Sam Miller is the author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity, where he regaled readers with tales of his adventures as he walked in massive concentric circles around Delhi, meeting boot-blacks, nauseatingly lurching revolving restaurants, and other characters essential to the quintessential Delhi experience. Always aware of his status as a white, Hindi-speaking oddity, Miller’s very British humour is somehow really very much at home in the dusty roads of the capital city.
He takes his scholarship, his careful research and his deep and abiding love for India to new heights in this book. He looks at India the way that foreigners, outsiders, have looked at India, from to Tripitaka, all part of the creation of the image of India, whether as a place of dirt and excrement and other unmentionable body fluids, or as a place of fantastic wealth and jewels, beautiful people, silk and exotica. Along the way he narrates to the reader his own love story, involving a person and a country. Readers will love the stories about Kipling’s Mowgli, the questionable behaviour of various guests to India, and the author’s own doppelganger.
The author is disarmingly honest about the fact that he will never truly be a part of the country, he will always be “one of them”. Though his love for India is evident to those he meets, he is forced to acknowledge that there are parts of the Indian experience that will always remain foreign to him (a bad pun that will remain). These include complaining about the filth around the country, as well as the loss of vital parts of India’s cultural history due to neglect or corruption. He also becomes more acutely aware of the prevailing Eurocentric bend in any historical discourse, a determination to make everything else fit within a European narrative history, realising that it is disrespectful to India and to Indian history.
The author’s light touch and tremendous sense of humour makes this book easy to read and often laugh out loud funny. Read it, if only to understand you own country better.
A Strange Kind of Paradise by Sam Miller. Penguin—Hay House
Other books by Sam Miller:
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity
Blue Guide: India
He has his own website! http://www.sammillerindia.com/
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.