A very curious essay appeared in the recent issue of The Caravan magazine. Written by Nilanjana S. Roy, titled ‘How To Read In Indian‘, it veered uncertainly between discussing the emergence of the phenomenal success of Indian writers writing in English, and a discussion of outsiders writing stories about India. Subtitled The Long History of a Literary Argument That Refuses to Go Away it clearly meant to be a literary discussion, but in fact it quickly diverged into a discussion about the outsider writing about India. Details »
Note: This essay was originally published on March 21st. This is an update based on a recent meeting with historian Samira Sheikh who has generously provided me with her research into the legend and contested history of Bahuchara Mata. All updates reflect insights gained from her work.
A continuity of history has been erased at the temple of the goddess Bahucharaji. As I walk into the center of the temple I am surprised to see a dozen or so men busily working at carving and cutting away stone and cement blocks, constructing a new temple where once a classical Indo-Islamic structure had stood. The shrine complex that I had expected to see is no longer. Details »
He is waiting for me in the hotel lobby, but barely lifts his head to acknowledge me when I come down from my room to meet him. His face, decorated with a pair of plastic sunglasses, is perfectly round. An equally perfectly round chin, nose, pair of cheeks and eyes but an incongruously square mouth complete a the face of my interrogator. A mustache covers his upper lip, and his middle age is betrayed by his receding hairline and thinning hair. His police uniform is sharply pressed, its starched perfection suggesting professional dry cleaning. It clings to his frame like shrink-wrap and suggests a tailored fit measured to accommodate the demands of his large frame and without a hint of being ill-fitting. The buttons are well polished. His black, patent leather shoes equally well buffed. A fastidious man, I think, one that may be equally fastidious when he question me about my reasons for being in his city. Details »
It stands there with its veneer of rude decay and abusive repair. Peeling paint, carelessly applied white wash, cracked and broken jalis (screens), gently leaning wooden doors held in place by rusting hinges, and large areas of carelessly applied cement to repair gaps in its walls. Sitting low to the ground, the mausoleum appears to slump towards the earth, a posture reminiscent of soul realizing death and waiting for it. Shanties surround it, and thorn covered bushes garland it from all sides. Refuse and waste dance in the wind on its patios, and bird droppings decorate the perfectly round forms of its nine domes. The angry scars of time and neglect cover its entire surface…and yet it is beautiful. Details »
On April 15th 2011, David Foster Wallace’s posthumous novel The Pale King will be released.
- The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
The State of Gujarat has banned Joseph Llelyveld’s new book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India.
Gujarat’s much celebrated Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, called it perverse, or more specifically, he stated that:
This publication defames the Mahatma and there is rising anger not only in Gujarat but in the entire country. The perversion shown in the writings not only deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms but cannot be tolerated.