The Bollywood War Movie And The Indian Popular Imagination  

In 1947, even as India attained independence from colonial subjugation, war broke out in Kashmir as guerrillas backed by Pakistan sought to bring it into the Pakistani fold. That war ended in stalemate after intervention by the UN. Since then, the fledgling nation of India has gone to war four more times: first, in 1962,Continue reading “The Bollywood War Movie And The Indian Popular Imagination  “

Fascism And The Problems With A ‘Glorious Past’

I grew up in India, a land of considerable antiquity with a long and rich history. All around me, there were monuments to this past; sometimes they were physical, tangible ones, like buildings built many years ago, or books that recounted tales of magnificent civilizations and fantastically accomplished cultures with their philosophy, art, music, sculpture.Continue reading “Fascism And The Problems With A ‘Glorious Past’”

An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized

In the summer of 1992, I traveled to India to visit my family: my mother, my brother, his wife (my sister-in-law), and my little, then barely six months old nephew. The monsoon lay around the corner, promising mixed relief from the brutal heat of the North Indian plains; the humidity would still oppress, but evenings andContinue reading “An Unforgettable Image, Appropriately Contextualized”

Punjab, Palestine, Israel: Refugee Resonances

The way I first heard the story of the Jews from my mother it was about refugees, endlessly wandering from expulsion to expulsion, who had finally found a home. The first history of the creation of Israel I read introduced me to the Palestinians; they were refugees too. And I had learned, long before, thatContinue reading “Punjab, Palestine, Israel: Refugee Resonances”

Margaret Sullivan Won’t Miss Five Things About The NYT; Here Are Two More

Margaret Sullivan–“the media columnist for The Washington Post….former Public Editor of The New York Times“–lists the five things she won’t miss about the New York Times: 1. The inherent tension of the job. The whole concept of coming to work every day to handle complaints, and maybe to criticize work done at the next deskContinue reading “Margaret Sullivan Won’t Miss Five Things About The NYT; Here Are Two More”

My First Phone Number

I grew up–till the age of eleven–without a telephone in my household. A phone line was a rarity–expensive, hard to obtain with a long waiting line–even for the Indian middle-class, and in any case my family lived for the most part on air force stations. But even when we lived in the city, we madeContinue reading “My First Phone Number”

‘But I Am From Brooklyn’

A few days ago, I reported–on Facebook, where else–a conversation with my daughter that went something like this: Her: Papa, where’s India? Me: It’s a country in Asia, sweetie, on the other side of the world. Her: We can drive there? Me: No, we have to fly. I was born there, you know. I’m fromContinue reading “‘But I Am From Brooklyn’”

Democracy, The ‘Anti-National,’ And The Seditionist

In my essay in The Los Angeles Review of Books on the Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera, currently serving a fifty-five year jail term in Federal prison for seditious conspiracy, I had written: The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 remain a blot on American democracy; John Adams deeply regretted — till the dayContinue reading “Democracy, The ‘Anti-National,’ And The Seditionist”

Amitav Ghosh And Dževad Karahasan On ‘An Aesthetic of Indifference’

In his essay The Ghosts of Mrs. Gandhi (New Yorker, July 1995), Amitav Ghosh introduces the reader to the Bosnian writer Dževad Karahasan and his ‘remarkable essay called Literature and War (published…in the collection Sarajevo, Exodus of a City), which ‘makes a startling connection between modern literary aestheticism and the contemporary world’s indifference to violence.’ GhoshContinue reading “Amitav Ghosh And Dževad Karahasan On ‘An Aesthetic of Indifference’”