A few days ago, a man named Karthik Rajaram shot his mother-in-law, his wife and his three sons (aged 7, 12 and 19). Karthik then proceeded to shoot himself.
This happened in an upscale neighbourhood in Los Angeles. According to Karthik's suicide letter, he had decided to kill his family and himself because of their financial difficulties.
Karthik was a well-educated man with an MBA and used to work for major accounting firms such as Price Waterhouse. However in recent months, he had been unemployed. One speculates that recent events such as the stock market collapse might also have wiped out his investments.
Coincidentally, this week I received an email from another American. Adam has just published a new book (his first) and he asked if I would review it on this blog. I said yes, and the book is now in the mail on its way to me in Singapore. I'll write again about the book, after I've received and read it. Apparently it has received considerable media publicity in the US, but so far, not outside the US.
Briefly, what is Adam's book about? It's a true story. It's about Adam's personal 1-year adventure to investigate whether the American Dream is still alive. One day, Adam left his home and family, and took a train to a randomly-chosen city. He carried only $25 and some clothes in a haversack.
His goal? To see whether he could start from zero and within one year, have $2,500 in his wallet, a car and a furnished apartment. The rules of Adam's game were that he would not rely on his education qualifications (he is a graduate), and he would not ask any of his personal contacts, friends or relatives for help.
Since I have not yet read the book, I don't know how Adam's adventure turned out. (I do know that he spent some of the time staying at a shelter for the homeless). For the current times, the book's theme is very topical, especially in the US. How bad does it really get, when you're homeless? How do you survive, when you're broke? Can things get better? If so, how?
I just have a feeling that Karthik might have done some things differently, if he had had a chance to read Adam's book.