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
Category Archives: India 2012
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
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
“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
Do Indians now dream in English?
Sunday Times of India, 5 February 2012
“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
‘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