As I sat on my coffee table reading the book cover to cover, I started fantasizing what living in America would be like? Have you too been waiting to escape into the ‘better’ world for a lifetime’s experience? I believe as a person living in Nepal, where the western culture has a massive influence, we all have a version in our mind of what life in America looks like.
Kenny Pandey is the author of ‘Other Side Of Paradise’, an intriguing story that takes place in the 1980’s. He was previously associated as a writer with The Rising Nepal. These little baby steps of publishing articles and journalism encouraged his passion for writing that led to his debut book ‘Other Side Of Paradise’. The book is based on the union of an intercultural marriage between Pemba, a Sherpa and an American girl Linda, which unfortunately comes to an end sooner than expected.
The protagonist, Pemba, is portrayed as a selfless enthusiast who lives in the path of virtue and morality. He works as a multitasking porter/cook/manager under a mountain travel agency and falls deeply in love with wonderful Linda, a client during his Mount Everest trekking expedition. Both were almost instantly cast under the spell of love and were mesmerized by each other's charming personality. It was pre-built in the story that their love was an act of universe, based on destiny and fate.
Throughout Linda’s journey in Nepal, Pandey takes every opportunity and describes the country in an explicit manner. I think it is safe to say that Pandey has done justice to the beauty of Nepal with his words. In the first half of the book, the peaceful ambiance created by reference to Buddhism culture and natural beauty spreads a colossal positivity in the reader’s mind. During her expedition, Linda questions the possibility of such spiritual transcendence in the modern world of America while Pemba opposes by stating that the grass is greener on the other side.
The immensity of their profound love induced Pemba to move to America on a fiancé visa, causing his ever so fantasized dream of America to come to life, which he claims to be the ‘Other Side Of Paradise’. In a short span of time, his expectations were shattered when he witnessed the inevitable cultural shock. Pemba, a hopeless romantic, couldn’t handle it when he was unexpectedly conferred with divorce papers right after his honeymoon in Europe with Linda.
I must say that the book certainly is flawed. To begin with, there were several grammatical errors, spelling errors and repetition of words that I came across while reading, which was truly hard to ignore. I liked Pandey’s style of writing, which is vastly informative that helps draw a vivid imagination, but I found many areas of the book to be unnecessarily stretched out with tedious details. For instance, towards the end of the book when the couple goes to their honeymoon in Europe, I felt as though I was popped back into my history class with all the information and while I enjoyed the details, I am not so sure most readers might.
I appreciate how the book revolves around many traditions and cultures. The protagonist leads a journey of 30 years within the book among which he explores many places- Delhi, Los Angeles, Greece, Thailand, Miami, and Hong Kong, to name a few. The author takes the time to describe each place with such charisma and grace, which engages the reader in the book at all times. The author scrutinized and formulated deep conversations between the characters about delicate issues such as the society’s paradigm of the baptism taking place at birth. He strikes ingenious connections between the Greek and Hindu mythology or the Amish community and Buddhism culture which is remarkable.
It is true that although this may not have been the best novel I’ve read so far, after reading this book, there was a moment of purity and utter satisfaction of some sort, a soothing sensation of peace and tranquility. Pandey has crafted a book that does not only speak the tale of a young man and his hardships but has masterfully fused history, ethnicity, and diversity to his style.
Arthur Schopenhauer once said and I quote, “One should use common words to say uncommon things.” His words, without any doubt, remind me of Pandey’s style of writing who uses simple words to draw complicated feelings within one’s heart. Towards the end of the book, it is understood that paradise does not lie in a particular place or a person, paradise is the state of peace in mind, most importantly, it is not what you seek but make. I definitely recommend it.