08 November 2008
In search of lightAn employee at an MNC in Bangalore Traveling back to the world of Darkness Bangalore, 8th Nov 2008. Dear Mr. Adiga, Before i begin, let me first excuse myself for this old fashioned letter-format. I'm merely trying to stick to your format. True, this is a blog and chances are, you will never ever read this letter. But i must say that Balram's letters to the Chinese Premier reminded me of the huge pile of letters i used to fondly write to my friends and family when i was a 12yr old, stacked away in a lousy boarding school. I read your book. I enjoyed it. Then i read an attack on the book. Some know-it-all NRI author was calling your work blasphemous in some nice sugar coated words in a reputed South Indian newspaper. He was saying that The White Tiger's India is unauthentic blah blah blah. Mr. Adiga, i've never peered into an Indian servant's heart. But i must say that i completely enjoyed Balram's character. I thought it was cynical, yet humorous in a way that only Indians who have lived in both the worlds (or at least has/had servants from the Darkness) will understand. I am, by no means, a literary scholar or an expert on the dynamics of the Indian Economy (i leave that to Mr. Chidambaram). But I've lived long enough in India to know that it would be almost impossible to realistically portray the myriad cultures, classes, habits, personalities etc, all in one book. Unless of course, your critics assumed that you were the 21st century Vyasa or Valmiki!! Like i have mentioned before, i thoroughly enjoyed the book and thought that the so called mera-bharat-mahaan-type patriots who despised it probably had at least one servant in their homes whose second name they didn't know. However, Mr. Adiga, i want to share with you a post-white-tiger experience I've had. Let me begin with some background information about myself. I work for an MNC here in Bangalore and am usually dropped back home at midnight by the taxi services which my company has employed. I live near an Office Building which serves as a taxi-centre and every morning at 7am i walk past the parking lot sprinkled with shiny luxurious taxis and dozens of drivers in clean white uniforms sitting crouched at the tea shop sipping their chai. From the time I've joined my company, I've never once failed to thank the elevator boy, to smile at the door-man or to acknowledge the white-clad drivers i see every morning. But post White-Tiger, I've realised that I've stopped talking while I'm in the late night cabs, thank-you-s has become slightly strained, I've been preposterously covering myself up with shawls in an effort to look modest, i keep imagining that my friends in white are huddled up conspiring against me, Ive been clutching on to my laptop bag for dear life until i find myself safely inside my office building or home and finally i realised that i didn't know my maid's second name. Fear, Mr.Adiga, as you must know, is a very dangerous weapon. Am sure, that was not your intention, but i wonder what effect your book has had on urban India's many middle-class working girls. How many of us on our way back to our homes on a late night, with western music blasting into our ears from our i-pods, would ponder over what the driver (who might occasionally glance over the rear-view mirror) might be thinking about at the moment?? I'd like to think that i would be soon out of my delusion and would stop jumping out of my skin every time the cab driver turns around to ask directions. But i for one, want to make sure. Am determined to find out my maid's second name. Your's Sincerely, Jyothy. PS : Three months and 15 days after i post this blog, i finally get down to write about my maid's second name. I found out that Bhuvana never had a second name to begin with. Considering most people have their father's or husband's name for a second name, she nodded her head vigorously in compliance with my suggestion to christen her with her father's name. So now she is Miss. Bhuvaneshwari Chellamuthu. On a similar note, i realised that she was quite vague about her date of birth. But i decided, that awarding her with a convenient date of birth would be going a bit over-board with the liberty she has given me to concern myself with her affairs. Therefore, we decided that she is as old as she thinks she is. Twenty- Two.