Author Sunil Lala takes a humorous look at the issues surrounding immigrant life in America.
Just like his father before him, Sunil Lala grew up in northern India knowing his path would lead him to become an engineer.
After years of nothing but "study, study, study," Lala had accomplished his goal, immigrated to the United States, and is now an IT consultant for MIT Lincoln Labs.
But something was missing: Lala always wanted to write and needed an outlet. Incognito, Lala began sending friends and family an anonymous e-mail newsletter, "Cyber Citizen," in which he addressed Indian-American social and political issues.
For the next five years, Lala offered commentary on the popular Indian blogging site, www.Sulekha.com.
When his father died in 2005, Lala decided it was time to get serious about writing, he said.
"It gave me a sense I needed to take my writing seriously. The whole idea was, I needed to be doing things I really wanted to do because life is short. I had always been interested in writing, but hadn't really done anything about it seriously," Lala said.
He wrote a tribute to his father, which was published in a leading Indian newspaper, Hinustan Times.
At the editor's suggestion, Lala began writing a column from his home in America, "Boston Diary," and was further inspired by the positive reviews it received.
In memory of his father, Mohan Lala, he penned "American Khichdi" -- a first-generation immigrant book in which Lala pontificates on the trials of being an Indian living in America -- or a "non-resident Indian."
Like the Indian term "khichdi" -- used to describe food that is a hodgepodge of ingredients but cumulatively difficult to define as either hot, cold, snack or meal -- Lala's book, as he writes in the foreword, is "a hodgepodge of feelings, a jumble of beliefs, an assortment of contradictory ideas ... about isolation and assimilation, confusion and clarity, about rights and duties, honesty and hypocrisy."
In "American Khichdi," Lala aims to provoke thought and convey serious messages in a humorous manner, he said.
"It's natural for a first-generation immigrant to start thinking about (immigrant issues). I chose to channel my emotions in each of those areas," which Lala addresses individually by chapter in essay format.
"One of my hopes for the book is that Indians and Americans and other immigrants read it - all immigrants can identify with these issues - and start a conversation between Americans born in America and immigrants who come to America from a foreign land," Lala said.
Each group can understand the other a little better, he said.
"There are things you start looking at differently about your home country (when you emigrate). I hope by reading my book, Indians have a little bit of laugh at themselves, they should do that a little more frequently," Lala said.
For more information or to purchase Sunil Lala's book, "American Khichdi," logon on to www.americankhichdi.com. To view Lala's "SNL-style" sketches, logon to www.atomicdesi.com.
Joyce Kelly can be reached at 508-626-4423 or email@example.com.