Chennai To Chicago – Memoir Of A Software Engineer by Sriram Ramakrishnan | Book Reviews
We see that these days a large number of Software Engineers (or those who are related to Information Technology field in anyway) trying their luck as an author. And, there is nothing wrong in it. If you have something with a substance to tell and if you can weave those details in a nice story using right words, it can be a good reading experience for the readers as well.
Recently, we were approached by Sriram Ramakrishnan to inform us about his debut book, Chennai To Chicago. As the title was followed by more informative tagline Memoir Of A Software Engineer, we can guess about the content of the book. We found it interesting and decided to explore it. Though, the book is provided by the author, the review, as always, is unbiased and uninfluenced.
|Book Title||:||Chennai To Chicago: Memoir of a Software Engineer|
|Publishers||:||Independently Published; Published: (16 July 2018)|
|# of Pages||:||
2245 KB 308 (Kindle EBook)
|# of Chapters||:||8|
Let us take a look at the cover page of the book:
The cover page is made with cheerful colors and it looks attractive. The line drawing of skyscrapers to imitate Chicago in the back and traditional landmarks giving the impression of Chennai are thoughtfully placed. Overall a nice cover.
The book is comparatively a short and straight-forward read. Those who grew up in middle class family in India can easily relate to many parts of the book. The book is written in first person, where the protagonist is sharing his experiences.
Sriram RamaKrishnanan aka Sri is like any other middle class youth who grew up in shortage of material resources but rich culture. Such upbringing ignites ambition to do something remarkable and motivates one to do the needed hard work for the same. Sri does well in the study. But, just passing out school or secondary exams at higher grade is not enough to achieve what he wants to. He than completes his graduation and learns software development. As there was a requirement of many skilled engineers in IT sector those days, his skills came handy to him.
Of course, the experience to live in the bigger city or rather we say, a metro city, was quite different than where he grew up. He however adjusted. His job was unable to give him the satisfaction he was looking for, and the IT companies are running at the shortage of staff in most cases (sometimes willfully). One day he got an opportunity to go abroad for a project for his client and eventually it opened a series of such on-site visits for him, which introduced him to the world and various cultures.
His life in USA was pole apart form the way he used to live in India. While he love the study environment there, the work environment and the cultural crossover was a different experience for him. Eventually, he faced one of the most important question, from himself! What was that? And, how his life journey changed a direction form there, is better to explore in the book.
Chennai to Chicago is comparatively a small book which you will love reading if you are still connected to your Indian root and yet not orthodox. When I see people interpreting the word “modern” wrongly, I feel disappointed. Being modern has nothing to do with the cloths you wear or the language you speak. Being modern doesn’t need you to detach from your roots and leaving back all the morals and ethics you grew up with. Being modern is a mindset in which you are open to accept anything good and genuine coming your way without any prejudice. If you agree with these thoughts you will surely enjoy the large part of this book.
Just remember that it is not going to explore the life in Chicago (or for that matter Chennai too) much. It rather is a metaphor where the way of living in India and USA is mainly explored. There is an exploration of European countries too. The initial segment of the book will remind you of those old days when you used to see the real India being explored in writing, movies and even on TV.
The innocence of a person grew up in a middle family environment is explored quite interestingly. How he find the context in which the phrases/words like “girlfriend”, “going out”, “dating” etc. are used is something remarkable.
He shares his vision as:
Also, the job environment in IT industry is explored quite authentically. Especially the contradiction of working environment one have assumed/expected during his/her study and training period v/s the reality (for a majority of IT engineers) is explored in convincing manner. What the book explores is a story of cultural crossovers for the first segment of the same. Many young aspirants who’ve visited/lived in USA will surely relate themselves with the study environment, driving licence, teaching environment, way of working etc. His assessment of a good teacher is something I really like:
An unenergetic teacher will put anyone to sleep.
The book moves ahead with a balanced approach, the author never tries to glorify something which is not, nor he tries bashing something without a reason. It is a good quality for an author especially for the debutante one. Here are some of the interesting lines from the book which I love reading and am sure that you will like them as well.
Nature won’t give you something that you can’t handle.
Mind creates the rift. Heart is so much the same anywhere in the world.
Why would anyone in this world be inferior or superior to anyone else?
I realized I really needed a reason to be unhappy, but didn’t need any reason to be happy.
No self-help book would help unless the help comes from within.
You can see how beautifully some life-lessons are included without using heavy words. Also, the author explores the spirit of “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्” as you can see. In book, the author mentions a few “racism” related incidents and at the same time he mentions that they are “exceptional”. Not everyone in the world holds that mindset. The author also explores how the outsourced work is mostly white-collar labour, rather than something exceptional!
How much of this book are real life experiences and how much of this is imagination is something the author only can clear, but he summarizes the tale in the following linex
After all, each one of us is a hero in our own lives.
This is my life, my story. And I am the hero.
It is quite motivational for everyone, what you are living is your life, and thus you are the real hero of the same. So rather than complaining and spreading negativity, one needs be the hero to change the direction of the life to what he/she wants to make of it. The book goes philosophical at places:
I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing, why do life play with me like that? It slaps me for a minute, and cuddles me the next minute. The uncertainty on when it would slap and when it would cuddle sometimes scared me.
If there is only one line you need to take away with you, it can be:
“Hope” is the most beautiful thing, it’s the very core of human existence.
I also like the way the author has imagined to get his soulmate, getting married and then taken over by her and got occupied in the hustle and bustle of the life so much that he cannot do what he want to do the most. Caring and living with his parents. It is something that the modern youth faces more intently with the changing times.
I also admire that the book doesn’t have any adult material, which is nowadays very common to be found. And cultural crossover books give a chance to the author to justify it as well!
The book changes its track when the protagonist decides to take the life-exploring journey. It goes to philosophical and spiritual way from this point. It can work in both positive/negative way for the book. It strictly depends upon the reader who may/may not welcome the change of genre. However, the incidents he faced in the journey are interesting to explore.
The book has some errors also. While we surely need to ignore the ones where the pronunciations make some spellings to be different in southern part of India. It includes the interchanged use of “s” and “sh” and having “th” instead of “t”. However there are some phrases where it could have been avoided, as they are quite obvious. Eg:
Pani bothal(water bottle) or Dhandia (should be Dandia), it comes not once, but twice in the book. If the author had taken more care, such stuff could have been avoided.
Overall a nice book which is written genuinely and you can feel it while reading. If you love to read about self-realization and the happiness beyond the material life, you will enjoy reading it.
Around 8 stars out of 10.
Quick Purchase Links:
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Kindle EBook
- Buy Book From Amazon India – Paperback
- Buy Book From Amazon US – Kindle EBook
- Buy Book From Amazon US – Paperback
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