Here is what I know about the Big Bang Theory (BBT): very little. I’ve seen only two episodes total, not counting the various clips that are scattered across Youtube. I like Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki. Blossum was my favorite show in the 90’s, so Mayim Bialik is always a treat to watch. But if I could only choose one series to binge watch for the rest of my life, BBT would not be at the top of my list.
So I can honestly say that I was not drawn to Kunal Nayyar’s book simply because he played Raj Koothrappali. In fact, I can’t even say what made me pick up the book when I first saw it in the library just two days before I have started writing this review… but I’m certainly glad I did.
Yes, My Accent is Real and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You is a collection of essays, chronicling the life of Kunal Nayyar, from his childhood in New Delhi, India to his college years in America. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always full of the wisdom of experience, I was surprised to find myself both metaphorically and literally on the same page.
For example, one theme that comes up quite a bit is the isolation and loneliness that comes from having to acclimate to a new kind of life style, namely, going to college. I already know from experience what is like to suddenly find yourself in a dorm full of strange people, having to adjust your routine, balancing work and play (I completely sucked at finding that balance by the way) and dealing with people who aren’t tripping over themselves to tolerate your individual quirks. Now add to that the culture shock that probably comes to a lot of people who study abroad.
During the early stages of his acting career, as a student, Kunal relates a story of how he basically holed up in his hotel room when his college theater group went to Boise, Idaho. He describes the “imaginary monster” that we sometimes make out of people that we are too afraid to interact with, like imagining that people are intolerant of you because of your background. As he matured, gaining more confidence along the way, he learned that hurt feelings can be a two way street, and that if you don’t at least take the risk of maybe getting hurt, you never know what you are absolutely going to miss out on.
If you read this book for no other reason, read it to learn more about holidays and traditions of India, as understood by someone who actually grew up experiencing them. In the seven part story entitled My Big Fat Indian Wedding, Kunal describes in beautiful detail every aspect of the wedding preparations, right up until the end. In the spirit of the book, we get a real glimpse into the traditional aspects of the wedding, as well as an honorary invitation back through time and space, to laugh and cry along with Kunal and the rest of his family at the most joyous occasion of his life.