In India, it’s the rich who have problems with obesity. And the poor are darker-skinned because they work outside and often work without their tops on so you can see their ribs.
I grew up, as many Indians do, in an archipelago of tongues. My maternal grandfather, who was a surgeon in the city of Madras, was fluent in at least four languages and used each of them daily.
Indians mock their corrupt politicians relentlessly, but they regard their honest politicians with silent suspicion. The first thing they do when they hear of a supposedly ‘clean’ politician is to grin. It is a cliche that honest politicians in India tend to have dishonest sons, who collect money from people seeking an audience with Dad.
In my family, as in most middle-class Indian families I knew when I was growing up, science and mathematics were held in awe.
I had grown up in a privileged, upper-caste Hindu community; and because my father worked for a Catholic hospital, we lived in a prosperous Christian neighborhood.
Too much of Indian writing in English, it seemed to me, consisted of middle-class people writing about other middle-class people – and a small slice of life being passed off as an authentic portrait of the country.
India’s great economic boom, the arrival of the Internet and outsourcing, have broken the wall between provincial India and the world.
It has always been very difficult for writers to survive commercially in India because the market was so small. But that’s not true at all any more. It’s one of the world’s fastest growing and most vibrant markets for books, especially in English.
Like most people who live in India, I complain about corruption, but know that I can live with corrupt men. It is the honest ones I secretly worry about.
At a time when India is going through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the West, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of society.
Greenwich Village always had its share of mind readers, but there are many more these days, and they seem to have moved closer to the mainstream of life in the city. What was crazy 10 years ago is now respectable, even among the best-educated New Yorkers.
I want to read Keats and Wordsworth, Hemingway, George Orwell.
If we were in India now, there would be servants standing in the corners of this room and I wouldn’t notice them. That is what my society is like, that is what the divide is like.
When I was writing ‘The White Tiger’ I lived in a building pretty much exactly like the one I described in this novel, and the people in the book are the people I lived with back then. So I didn’t have to do much research to find them.
Having plenty of living space has to be the greatest luxury in a city, and I guess in some sense Bombay is the antithesis of what living in Canada must be.
Columbia University, where I went to study in 1993, insisted its undergraduates learn a foreign language, so I discovered French.
Mangalore, the coastal Indian town where I lived until I was almost 16, is now a booming city of malls and call-centres. But, in the 1980s, it was a provincial town in a socialist country.
Like most of my friends in school, I was a member of multiple circulating libraries; and all of us, to begin with, borrowed and read the same things.
When I was growing up in the south Indian city of Madras, there were only two political parties that mattered; one was run by a former matinee idol, and the other was run by his former screenwriter.
I never did very well as an immigrant. I’ve lived in several countries and been a disaster everywhere.
An honest politician has no goodies to toss around. This limits his effectiveness profoundly, because political power in India is dispersed throughout a multi-tiered federal structure; a local official who has not been paid off can sometimes stop a billion-dollar project.
I am coming back to New York after five years, and it seems that psychics are taking over the city.