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An Indian Summer (Travel Library) Paperback – 14 Oct 2000
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worth reading despite the enormous changes India has seen in the last decades
The book was published in 1974 – three years after Bangladesh was created following India's invasion of East Pakistan during the crackdown on Bengali nationalists by the Pathans of West Pakistan - but much of it is still relevant to today's world, particularly in light of the rise in Islamic extremism. He describes Pakistan as “..a nation conceived in fear, born in bitterness and broken in folly. It took less than 25 years to prove to the world, if not to itself, that a nation created out of negatives was founded on sand.” Pakistan's founder Jinnah is described as “emaciated and exquisitely tailored.. the inflexible ..apostle of Pakistan who had.. a difficulty for every solution..”
He is not much kinder about Gandhi or Churchill - with his “catalogue of prejudices and rancor and small ill-tempered bitterness” - Attlee or Mountbatten although he has kind words for Nehru. He is also scathing about India's perpetual boast to be a democracy saying, “India survived as the world's greatest democracy, in so far as the word had any meaning at all.”
He obviously loves India but is merciless in his references to the chronic political corruption, hypocrisy and social horror and chides Indians for refusing to learn more about their own history.
Incidentally, in many cases the word “India” could have been replaced by “Brazil” (where I live) despite the enormous cultural and religious differences between the two countries.
This short but meaty book is a loving portrait of a marvelous country. Cameron uses the incident of a horrific car accident he suffered in Bangladesh to tie together his own sense of mortality and India's great endurance.
Pace can be a little rough at times, but that is the only detraction from this beautiful, appreciative look at India and its foibles, humanity, grace, sufferings. His treatment of conversations (with little hints of well-observed Indglish) are a joy to read. Many tender and thoughtful passages about mankind, but it's really a very personal memoir of Cameron's ongoing yet troubled love affair with a nation.
Indispensible part of any India-phile's library, great pre-departure (or take-along) reading for anyone going there.