Sunday, August 03, 2008

An Unlikely Reconnection

When I decided to read 'The City of Joy', I approached it with the wary skepticism with which Indians tend to regard foreigners' accounts of India.I expected it to be filled with stereotypes portrayed, with so much conviction, by the European and American media.I probably underestimated the extent of Dominique Lapierre's research.I was struck by the introduction,where Lapierre urges readers not to form a generalized opinion of India based on what's in the book.

Lapirre's description of life in 'The City of Joy' ranges from stark to tender.Memories of alighting at the Howrah railway station came flooding back.So did wrenching images of the most dehumanizing poverty,the agonizing contrasts that make no sense,the immobilizing humidity and above all things an inexplicable sense of comfort.The book tugs at one's senses and invokes the kind of familiarity and fondness one wouldn't expect to feel for a hapless,overpopulated city.

As many of my readers know, I am a Bengali raised in Bangalore. I have often mourned the fact that I feel alienated and disconnected when I think of my roots, of Kolkata(Calcutta's new name) and a culture that has me confounded and bemused.Lapierre's moving account of the city and its spirit sparked off a reconnection.It rekindled the bond I shared with the city as a child.It is now time to make amends.

9 comments:

ankita anand said...

Makes me think of Dalrymple and Delhi.

Anonymous said...

hey babe.. read your blog - most of it i guess.. for a long time i have been really awed by the thought of you, a kid years younger but with such mature taste in books and music (ya, beatlemania galore). anyway- really stunned by ye writing and glad you took to it, cause somewehre along the line, it vanishes with the smattering of officialese at work :D Great going. totally tripped on your work. and yes- definitely inspired to write a bit :D Thanks.. Love. Prachi

Anonymous said...

this is writing that i would call - Diva-stating

La Diva! said...

Merci Beaucoup!

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