That travel need not broaden the mind, again

This reviewer of Hindoo Holiday appears to me to mistake for style what is merely the usual Indian reality. The writer's prince is zany, but then so are most your interlocutors in India; besides, seeing a naked man armed with a spear is not nearly as odds-off there as it is wherever the reviewer comes from. (Kansas?) I have only spent 18 months in India, and yet have seen several naked armed men; indeed, it was the sheer ordinariness of the naked-armed-with-spear business which convinced me not to write an India travelogue -- it's simply too easy to slip into an endless catalog of the merely weird.

Perhaps one day I will write something about my stay in India. When I do, I will be meaning to write about the ways in which India has changed me and will skip the naked-with-spear and the my-grandma-poisoned-my-grandpa stuff. One's encounter with India can really be a lot more profound than the campy gossipiness of this book, but that takes time, commitment and brains; and the time, at any rate, seems to have been short in this case.

And it usually is. Says authoritatively a character in Wharton's Age of Innocence: "You need three weeks to do India properly." Quite.


chris miller said...

Got any more recommendations about literature by or about people from the Raj? A nice, long list will do -- and I'll probably order every one. (currently reading a biography of Indira. What a goddess!)

Sir G said...

jewel in the crown, of course; a passage to india (incredibly, overwhelmingly beautiful); white mughals (and anything and everything by darlymple);
The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib and Ralph Russell; anything by ruth prawer-jhabwala (a polish jewess, btw.); baburnama (by babur, of course; the first paragraph starts "at the age of 12 I became king of ferghana"; and it ends: "no one plans a war campaign like my grandmother"); and -- am i forgetting -- the entire Kipling? :) that should keep you busy for a few weeks!

Sir G said...

oh, and of course

Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan by James Tod (1820?)

Sir G said...

Other Mind: A Study of Dance In South India by Beryl De Zoete;

also, every movie of satyajit ray you can lay your hands on, the chess players especially;

The Lucknow Omnibus by Abdul Halim Sharar, Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, and Veena Talwar Oldenburg;

Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India.;

anything and everything by romila tarpar, especially Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History

amartya sen's the argumentative indian

ok. ill stop here

Sir G said...

and the first part of In the land of the great image -- the part pertaining to goa

chris miller said...

Many thanks!

Worldcat will be keeping me busy.

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