Category Archives: India 2012

India through its railways

My review in The Sunday Telegraph of Monisha Rajesh’s “Around India in 80 Trains” is available online here and below. Also picked up in the New Statesman’s Cutural Capital reviews round-up here. Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012, Published work

“This is India…”

As a rule I avoid deadlines in India. But earlier this year I had to travel from Kalimpong to Bagdogra Airport, a journey of about four hours, for a flight to Delhi. I made my flight, but not before encountering a situation that says quite a lot about India. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012

A brave or a foolish death?

It is 8 on a February morning. Around me, 100 Tibetans are seated on the stone paving in front of a temple. The temple is in a cramped square with a canopy of fluttering prayer flags. The hypnotic murmur of Buddhist chants floats over the sounds of drums and cymbals from inside. On the steps of a house on the right of the square, two elderly Tibetan women chatter as they spin their hand-propelled prayer wheels. Nearby a small girl, no more than eight years old, plays with a tiny dog in the corner of the square. Her rosy weather-beaten cheeks contrast with her bright green checked jumper, and give her the look of one who has lived an outdoor life on the Tibetan plateau. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under India 2012

Nations, Gods, and Plastic

“But what if,” I ask, “I wanted to become Indian?”

It is 9am, and we are twelve hours into a seventeen-hour train journey. There is something about Indian trains that encourages social intercourse, and I have succumbed to the temptation to engage in debate with my fellow passengers.

“You know,” I continue. “Like when Indians come to Britain. They get British nationality – why shouldn’t I be able to get Indian nationality?” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012

Do Indians now dream in English?

The Sunday Times of India has published a piece I wrote taking a sideways view of the Salman Rushdie/Jaipur affair. You can read it on the Times of India website here and below.

Do Indians now dream in English?

Sunday Times of India, 5 February 2012

The furore at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year prevented Salman Rushdie from contributing to the festival’s debate on the Englishlanguage in India. Though the debate went ahead, it focused mostly on issues concerning spoken English.
Rushdie would likely have broadened the debate to include the question of using English for Indian creative writing.His 1983 Booker prize for Midnight’s Children caused the chair of the judges to laud “the current adventuring in English language fictions”; a decade and a half later, he wrote that “prose writing – both fiction and non-fiction – by Indian writers working in English, is proving to be a stronger and more important body of work than most of what is being produced in the 16 ‘official languages’ of India, the so-called ‘vernacular’languages.”

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012, Published work

Oprah, God and Obama

“Look! Oprah!! Today she come?”

The rickshaw driver thrusts the newspaper into my hands pointing to Oprah’s photograph on the front page, before manhandling his rickshaw towards the potholed road for my final ride to the Jaipur Literature Festival.

“You are very lucky to see Oprah! Now she is very old…” he continues as he cranks up the engine. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012

Clean souls and Satanic Verses

‘I remember you from last time! Last time you buy very much for your wife!’

From my seat in the rickshaw I glance up at the rearview mirror to be greeted by a wide grin. It is clear that telling the driver that I am neither married nor bought anything on my visit here (to the Jaipur Literary Festival) last year will make no difference.

‘Yes you buy very much! I remember! What you take back for her this year? Jewellery?’

‘A clean soul,’ I reply, half sarcastically, the words falling out of my mouth before I know what I am saying. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under India 2012