‘Balram Halwai, the eponymous ‘white tiger’, is a diminutive, overweight ex-teashop worker who now earns his living as a chauffeur. But this is only one side of his protean personality; he deals in confidence scams, over-ambitious business promotions (built on the shakiest of foundations) and enjoys approaching life with a philosophical turn of mind. But is Balram also a murderer? We learn the answer as we devour these 500 odd pages. Born into an impoverished family, Balram is removed from school by his parents in order to earn money in a thankless job: shop employee. He is forced into banal, mind-numbing work. But Balram dreams of escaping — and a chance arises when a well-heeled village landlord takes him on as a chauffeur for his son (although the duties involve transporting the latter’s wife and two Pomeranian dogs). From the rich new perspective offered to him in this more interesting job, Balram discovers New Delhi, and a vision of the city changes his life forever. His learning curve is very steep, and he quickly comes to believe that the way to the top is by the most expedient means. And if that involves committing the odd crime of violence, he persuades himself that this is what successful people must do.’
I finally managed to finish The White Tiger and I have to say it was one of the best books I have read in a long time. When I finally reached the last page last night before bed I was slightly disappointed there was not more to sink my teeth into but at the same time happy that I had finally accomplished the three hundred and something pages.
The White Tiger is a very rare creature indeed and when stuck in his cage he gets extremely restless. As he paces up and down in his cage at the same pace in the same line left to right he is thinking about his options, means of escape and what the future will be like. Balram Halwai ‘The White Tiger’ of his village went from being one of the spiders in the tea shop breaking coal and cleaning up the mess of other. Through his turmoil of daily servant life where he was ordered to sweep the floor, clean the car and drive his masters wherever they wished to go and whenever Balram was a modern-day Cinderella just waiting to break free.
A teetotaler with the background of a sweet maker Balram is one of a kind whose loyalty shines through like no other servant. Scrubbing and massaging one of the masters feet, bathing their pets even taking the wrap for a murder he had absolutely no part in something that in some places would be seen as absolutely unacceptable, these are the parts of Balram’s life day in day out. You would think that after all this hard work and dedication he would at least have a comfortable mattress to lay his head at night but like many others in his situation after fighting for it he manages to sleep in a bed that is hard as stone with a mosquito net around him that also shields him from the roaches crawling up the walls at night.
Aravind Adiga has given me a slightly darkened pathway to india but with a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. The difference between need and must in Balram’s life was made very clear when he had the choice of fight or flight when he had the chance and took it to murder his boss ‘other half’.
If I was put in his situation I have to honestly say I am not entirely sure whether I would do the same as murder is murder wherever you are and whoever you are. Nobody has the right to take another’s life and this is frowned upon in many countries sadly not worldwide.
Balram ‘The White Tiger’ made it out of the darkness into the light.
Personal Rating = 4/5
When you read this book you will obviously come to your own conclusions but if mine are anything to go by you will thoroughly enjoy this book and not want to put it down. I read that there will be a 24 hour read-a-thon on April 9th and I kind of wish that I had a full uninterrupted 24 hours to read this book as it is an extreme page turner. But what I shall be doing for this will be in yet another post!
Have a great day!