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The hell hole which was Bankipur

Updated: May 20, 2022

Here is a river shot from today's Bankipur. It reminds me of the black-and-white shot of a crumbling peasant shack in Urga: how pitiful the past is when viewed from the present.

Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer

Chapeau, Damon Galgut!

Perhaps no Indian and no European could have written such a rich and insightful account of E. M. Forrester’s first visit to India, one which so deftly avoids both the Eurocentric and the Indocentric temptati0ns and which remains wonderfully undistorted by ideology or grievance or pride.

As a character in Chapter 4 observes, the desires and sufferings of a closet homosexual in Victorian England are trivial. (“Yes, it is, if you only knew it. What you want is to live with a man in a happy homestead. But you don’t know how trivial it is. Marriage is emblematic of modern life. The way men and women are together—it’s a silly business, it has no nobility. I wish you could see that, instead of romanticizing it.”)

And Forrester’s resentment against his beloved Massood (for refusing to become his lover) shows up in all its ugliness — and is a good lesson for all heterosexual men not to encourage what cannot be by offering their homosexual admirers the sop of friendship. (Don't say, "I can't sleep with you but I do love you." Say: "No.")

And not to be surprised when women do the same thing to them in turn.

The India, and the Indians in his book — both native and colonial — are superb. Anyone who knows India, recognizes it immediately.

Chapeau, chapeau. Damon Galgut, you rock.

Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer

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