Monday, July 28, 2008

Varying the pace...

I finally read Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams of my father, over the weekend. It is extremely well-written and engages the reader from page 1, and Barack raises a lot of questions about race, people's assumptions about it and the different ways in which they choose to address their own ambiguities on the issue. As you read through the book you realise it can't have been easy to be the child of a white American and a black african, with an Indonesian step-father and step-sister, growing up in the 60s and 70s, even if much of that happened outside the continental United States. Throughout the book you see how people try to go outside their comfort zone or even their reality, trying to prove how 'non-racist' they are or how true to their own race. It certainly gave me a lot of food for thought, to the extent that I couldn't sleep...like the time I read Roots and was haunted for weeks by images of slavery and the anguish of Kunta kinte...

So I descended to the ridiculous and picked up some Hardy Boys books to calm me down. The first one I picked up was hilarious - somehow beset with Indian characters with names like: Ramhud Ghapur; Tava Kapoor; Bangalore; Mr. Bhagnav and Nanab!!! The only Indian name they got right was a character called Ragu. I was just imagining the coterie of writers responsible for this series randomly scanning menus from Indian restaurants and coming up with these strange monickers. Not to mention a priceless climax straight out of a Hindi movie in the 70s, where the book states that Indians love wrestling so the gang of villains agree to let Frank and Joe Hardy engage on a wrestling bout with some members of the gang, with 2 out of 3 falls being the condition for winning...

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