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Floyd Cardoz
By Nitish S. Rele

Satish Sharma, an educated and middle-class Mumbai native, immigrates to the United States for a better life. He settles amid the oil and gas industry in Houston, Texas only to be tagged as �an Indian in cowboy country.� Despite the hardships and challenges he faces, Sharma prevails and winds up as a highly successful professional.

This, in short, is the protagonist of Houston-based Pradeep Anand�s debut novel �An Indian in Cowboy Country: Stories from an Immigrant�s Life� (published by iUniverse, $14.95). And the story is eerily similar to its author, who like Sharma, is a native of Mumbai and a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, who settled in the middle of the oil industry in Texas to prosper and finally set up his own management company, Seeta Resources.

�There is nothing autobiographical about my book,� cautions the 56-year-old author in a telephone interview from Houston, �except the places in Mumbai I am familiar with such as Dadar, Fanaswadi, Kala Ghoda, Mahalaxmi Temple, Haji Ali, among others. I wrote about the neighborhoods I knew so readers who aren�t aware about Mumbai could imagine their own neighborhoods in Kolkata, Delhi or elsewhere.�

Anand, who also earned an MBA from the University of Houston, besides the IIT engineering degree, calls himself a �non-engineer. That�s because, over a course of time, I became a sort of a specialist in commercializing new technology. In 1993, I realized that I had hit my ceiling and needed to work with multiple companies. So, I formed Seeta to help companies accelerate with their growth.�

�An Indian in Cowboy Country� is based on an episodic structure with convenient stopping/resting points in the narrative. For instance, the first chapter �Rites of Passage� deals with the experience of the protagonist and his schoolmates to their first adults-only movie followed by Mumbai�s first ethnic riot. Then there�s �The Interview� in which Satish Sharma is interviewed for a promotion and rejected. Or �Going Home� in which he visits Mumbai after 10 years in America.

It is in �The Interview� that Anand rakes up the subject of racism. �In those days, it was rampant,� he says. �During a radio program to promote my book, as soon as I spoke about racism, the calls started pouring in with several folks sharing their experiences.�

The book also takes a peek at the subject of arranged marriage, spirituality, falling in and out of love, finding and losing a job � from a man�s viewpoint. �Let�s be frank: Most of the Indian writing is done by women,� says Anand. �There is none that addresses such core issues of life from a male�s perspective.�

The debut-making author is excited with the response to the book. �We came up in top 1 percent of sales at Amazon and Barnes & Noble,� he says with pride. �Once we make the book successful in the U.S., we will look to sell it in India.�

What�s next for the Houston-based author? �I do write business articles extensively,� he replies. �Having learnt the ropes of fiction, my plan is to do a �How to Business� book in fictional form, sort of chatty and easy to read. It would answer three simple questions in business: �Where are we, where should we go and how should we get there.� �

We can bet that Pradeep Anand will go places one day with his talent for writing stories about Indian immigrants in a skilful and effective narrative style!

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