Prufrock's Page

Monday, July 24, 2006

Reading Rushdie In India

James Mutti spends a month in north India armed with Midnight's Children, Godaan and other works, and then reflects on how his reading shaped his travel experience:

"As I looked back on my trip more closely, my reading and traveling experiences intertwined comfortably and harmoniously. There was something Rushdie-esque about the train ride from Delhi to Haridwar; the pudgy 8-year-old girl who bought food from every wallah passing by—chai, sandwiches, fried rice, tomato soup; the awkward, gangly college student who accidentally dropped his suitcase on a baby’s head drawing the attention of the whole car of passengers; the beautiful young mother deep in animated conversation, her face lit up by a diamond-like bindi on her forehead, a wide smile, and a bright knitted stocking hat."

Mr Mutti may be entirely well-intentioned, but upon reflection, his account smacks of a residual colonial inscription. If one went around New York, for example, armed with Auster's The New York Trilogy or even Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities and then claimed to 'understand' the city better, how seriously would one's account be taken?


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