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On A Month Alone In: India

@5dollarhaircut No offense taken! I must admit, I had no idea my complaints were up for competition; I definitely had some scarier experiences that were too personal to relay. However, being Indian-American, I'm cautious about how I might represent the country. There's an unspoken axiom when writing about India: you will upset someone. Someone will say you didn't suffer enough, or conversely, that you glamorized your travails. Someone else will say ‘colonial.’

I do think India has a problem with women, there's no two ways about it. Rest assured Indian women know it, too. While I'm not saying a western woman's horrific experiences should go unheard, I would maybe recommend that she, were she even interested in reliving it for a travelogue story < 2000 words, find a way to articulate that important and prescient story with immense sensitivity and hopefully, some insights.

I mean, for the last two hundred years, there's been an avalanche of literature on the subject. The British used the Fear of the Swarthy Rapist as pretext to viciously put down the 1857 mutiny. So with that and poverty porn like “Slumdog Millionaire” or “City of Joy” swirling in my head, I broach the discussion very, very cautiously; also, as a man, as an American man at that, I'm not sure I have standing to talk about it - yet. There seems to be a shortage of new voices or new perspectives on The India Thing. I think Kathrine Boo, as someone pointed out, did an awesome job with her book. Looking forward to more books that continue to mine new angles.

I should also say that I know The Hairpin is targeted to women, but I think Edith and I saw it as a human story more than anything else. A little postcard at best, not exhaustive reporting or a survey on inequality by any means.

And I'm deeply sorry to hear that so many women had such wretched experiences, but moved by the courage and compassion and love you all managed to leave India with.

Posted on February 16, 2013 at 1:02 am 3

On A Month Alone In: India

@hellonheels Yeah I did, but I ordered the popcorn chicken, which was worse than its American counterpart. What did you have?

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm 0

On A Month Alone In: India

@Megoon: McPaneer was not McBad. The taste of the paneer doesn't feature strongly under all that damn breading, but the sauce is good and spicy and with all that crack and saccharine ingested into their products, what doesn't taste good at McDonald's?.

Someday I'll return for the very real Pizza McPuff, Veg McCurry, and the Crispy Chinese, members of The Hamburglar's international crime syndicate.

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm 1

On A Month Alone In: India

@Leslie Green: You guessed correctly: I am a guy, sadly. But I'm not in any of the photos, btw. That slick haired fellow peddling trumpets was the proprietor of that booth. I too would be curious to read about a Western woman coming to India. There's a great book called Women of the Raj about British women who were brought to India starting in the 1700s. They didn't always have the best time.

@thiscallsforsoap: Hah, Instagram. I was in a filter-heavy period of my life, don't judge.

@eraserface: So I know you're running on the assumption that I'm a heavyset Amazonian, but despite not being that - nobody actually commented on my height at all. That's interesting now that I think about it. Though there is a bit of a staring problem in India - it's best to avoid making any assumptions as to why someone's looking at you, since it's so common.

And maybe just for men of the future who might also have the misfortune to share my name: Shona is a Bengali word for 'sweet.' It's also a pet name, one that I was supposed to grow out of, but never did. My full name is Sushanto, which I'm still not ready for apparently.

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm 3