The White Tiger :A Novel
By Aravind AdigaPaperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Free Press
Review of the book by Cashmere
The story of Balram Halwai was quite interesting. From a promising student to a human spider in a tea stall the ups and downs of life in the “Darkness” are spelt out with chilling coolness. The matter of fact description of exploitative practices was quite scary. Made you thankful for not being born in the Darkness region which I would consider East Up and Bihar area.
Then leaving the home village for the nearest town the boy decided to better his prospects by learning to drive. The burning ambition to get out of the tea stall rut motivated him to get into that smart driver uniform. There too with his employers he was servant number two. The lowest in the servant hierarchy, a nobody till he figured out the servant number one’s secret.
That secret he exploited to its full and ended up coming to Delhi with his employers. Out of the darkness and into the dusk. A city where Light and Dark both had their place and he was balancing his act between the two. Keeping up an education which came to him from the streets the driver found his very existence threatened when his master decides to replace him with a local driver.
Drastic problems called for desperate measures. A murder and a robbery later the man flees to Bangalore. There again he takes to the streets and pavements to educate himself. As he says each city has its own language, you need to listen to understand what it is saying to you. The solution to his problem lay in the Bangalore concept of outsourcing.
He begins a taxi service for call centers and turns a profit with the seed money that came from a murder. He crosses over from the poor to the rich. He has finally made it to the other side. Although he is trying very hard not to be like his old masters when he deals with his servants. An interesting read and a glimpse into the underbelly of modern India. The difference between the haves and the have-nots is beautifully portrayed in this Booker Prize winner of 2008.