Granta, Issue 130: India
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For a long time – too long – the mirror that India held to its face was made elsewhere. ‘What writer about the country would you recommend I read?’ first-time travellers to India would ask, and in the later twentieth century the answer was still Forster or Naipaul or even the long-dead Kipling. In fiction, that changed with Rushdie. Now it has changed in all kinds of non-fiction. Narrative history, reportage, memoir, biography, the travel account: all have their gifted exponents in a country perfecting its own frank gaze.
lantern that when they met on the road he’d been afraid in case the other man was a ghost. Oho! said Borkar, pouring more Santra for all of us. I took my tumbler and put it against my foot so I’d know where it was. It was nearly dark now. Even the bats were hardly visible, sudden cinders against the darkness. It was silent. The city lights seemed far. I thought of the field temple I used to walk to as a boy, its blunt found idols of Narsoba and his wives. I must be tipsy; I felt detached from
looked up and down the road for a taxi, and everything swam before me in a watery haze, so that I seemed to be witnessing the absolute dissolution of the city. Only the very tops of the skyscrapers stood firm and bright above the murk, and in those moments without clarity, it was easy to assume that this was all there was to Mumbai, these forbidding towers and the privilege they contained. ANNAWADI Katherine Boo In moments of intense reporting, I could be counted on to miss the incidentals:
get away with it. Selecting the right kind of a tomato was crucial for the scam to work. Do you think the old man would’ve let me walk away with a perfectly good tomato, ever? If there was even the slightest chance of selling it, he’d have snatched it out of my hand and tossed it back into the basket. A tomato had to be, well, you know, kind of poised between overripe and rotten, if not downright rotten, to have any hope of getting past my father’s trained eyes. Once my father had given the
could go wrong? So Jai pays and lets the chair settle round him. The prosthetician sprays his upper body with antiseptic phages. As the man goes to work, Jai hums a low syllable. He lengthens the sound, spooling it out of his diaphragm. When the anaesthesia kicks in around his chest, the syllable drains away until it’s no louder than a whisper. At first all is black. Then he hears a tone, single, constant, running through him, resonating in the cavities of his body. This is the tonic. Every note
pause, not unkindly, and hung up. There was always something – the bathtub drain that got clogged by their thick hair. The leak above the bed that dripped on them. He had been raised in a community in which men with brains were not expected to use their hands. Now he was expected to have an enormous brain, two strong arms and endless money to buy love. These wives and daughters wanted a Tamilian Clark Gable to father and husband them – but not Shweta, he thought. He heard his niece’s voice lift