Sundarrajk's Weblog

Transmission by Hari Kunzru

Posted on: October 31, 2012

TransmissionTransmission by Hari Kunzru
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book is about the life of three people.

The first Arjun Mehta has just graduated from one of the many Engineering colleges in India, just in time to ride the IT boom to America.

The second Leela Zahir is a Bollywood actress who has met with huge success and has huge fan following including Arjun Mehta.

The third is Guy Smith, a British, who has setup his own company which is expected to help other companies with creative tasks. His girlfriend is an employee of a PR firm and they are leading a not so happy life together.

Arjun Mehta finds his American dream becoming a bad dream as he is left on the bench without any job for months and with money for minimum subsistence. After more than a year he manages to land a job in a company, based in Seattle, writing anti virus software as a tester. Arjun gets close to a colleague of his who teaches him to drive and with her he gets to see and know more of American social life. Just when he thinks things are improving for him he is told that he is going to be laid off. He begs and pleads with his boss but to no avail.

He decides that if we proves himself good the company will retain him. So he create a virus and calls it Leela and attaches a video clip of Leela Zahir dancing and unleashes it into the cyber world to be triggered on her birthday.

The virus wrecks havoc throughout the world and nobody is able to come up with a solution to fix the infected machines. Arjun walks into his boss’ cabin, but his boss wishes to shoo him off. He persists and gives his boss the solution assuming that his job will be saved. But the boss takes the credit and give Arjun the boot.

Guy Smith has been failing to get clients and his company is on the verge of collapse when adding to his woes the Leela virus strikes his laptop and all the computers in his office and he is left ranting after his System Administrator.

In the meantime Leela Zahir is in Scotland shooting for yet another movie. The paparazzi is demanding an interview with Leela Zahir seeking to know if she is behind the virus that is causing so many problems. They are not satisfied with answers from the producers of the movie. The producer ropes in a PR firm which sends Guy Smith’s girlfriend help them soothe the media and she comes over to Scotland. Here he happens to interact with Leela Zahir who has locked herself up in her room refusing to meet anybody.

FBI has started a hunt to find out the originator of the virus. Arjun now fears being arrested and flees home hoping to cross over into Canada. But in the tension and confusion he ends up in Oregon instead. His logic tells him it maybe safer to proceed south and try to get into Mexico as they will possibly be looking for him at the Canadian border as that closer to Seattle.

FBI manages to get his details through the lady who taught him driving and has launched a massive manhunt for him. He manages to reach San Diego without any authority spotting him.

Guy Smith is in Brussels for his pitch to the European Union Border Security. He ends up in an apartment complex full of illegal immigrants with a prostitute. When he wakes up there is raid and he is taken along with others. Thanks to the Leela virus their system matches Guy Smith’s finger prints to that of an illegal immigrant and he is deported along with others.

Leela Zahir disappears from the movie shoot after the arrival of her mother and Arjun is shown disappearing from San Diego.

The book ends with Guy Smith leading a rural life on a farmland. We are left to speculate on if Leela and Arjun are living together somewhere in the world.

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