Indie Author Championship #6

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A Stranger in No Land Tales of Assimilation

Author Name: Vikram Rao | Format: Paperback | Genre : Literature & Fiction | Other Details

A 21-year-old from the all-boys (at the time) Indian college, IIT Madras, arrived at Stanford University in 1965. He was immediately confronted with the sexually permissive milieu, presumptions of Indian mysticism and conspicuous alcohol consumption, that was California in the sixties. Cultural assimilation had begun.

His nomadic childhood in India, punctuated by parental moves every three years, had armed him with the tools of assimilation, because India is a culturally diverse sub-continent masquerading as a country. Following the embrace of the “left coast,” he was often a stranger to disparate settings. But not for long. On the first day of a job on the east coast, he ran the gauntlet of a rite of passage into the industry. This, and other tales, comprise the book, a lighthearted collection of vignettes, most with the underlying theme that differences are to be understood, absorbed and even celebrated. Thematic departures are capitulations to whimsy about areas such as organic gardening and an alternative take that Dickens’ Scrooge’s meanness was a contrived brand developed as part of a long-term plan.

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Vikram Rao

Vikram Rao is an oddity, an engineer who enjoys writing. His first exposure to this was at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, where in his first year he helped found the campus monthly Campastimes. He was recognized at commencement for his column Caricatures. One of his books was dedicated to Campastimes, rather than to a person. His first book was dedicated to his grandmother, a pioneering educator.

His grandmother features in this book, as do many others who shaped his assimilative skills. Such shaping was essential because his life comprises a journey traversing many a cultural divide. In the early days this was driven by family moves every 3 years. After college in Madras, graduate school in California in the mid-sixties was the definition of culture shock. Later journeys were to the US east coast and Europe. He took notes when interesting things happened.

This book is a lighthearted collection of vignettes based upon those notes. The style is a throwback to the Campastimes days when the contributors indulged in respectful irreverence (while avoiding the ire of authorities). The theme is cultural assimilation. The result, he hopes, is entertainment.