Elephants and other foreigners

I inadvertently framed this weekend with Indians and elephants, in two completely different book reviews. Karma, perhaps.


Obviously ‘no one’ read blogs on Friday, so no need to be concerned with causing offense. Not that I would be anyway. As for now, I don’t know who reads what. I feel the need to avoid too much ‘news’ because so far it’s not really news, but more speculation, and none of it designed to make anyone feel better.

What’s interesting in the two books I reviewed, is [slight spoiler alert here] the prejudice.

Dindy’s mother is very anti-native, in this imperial tea plantation setting in 1946 or 47. For her children the setting is completely natural, and they love their native ‘spare mum.’ They speak the language. They have been warned about a lot of things they mustn’t do, but the local people don’t scare them. They just are. Just as they themselves are.

The adult men, their father and the doctor, appear to be happy with both the British and the Indians. But when the doctor is replaced with an Indian doctor, it takes an emergency for the children’s mother to accept him. Even though he trained in Britain.

In the adult crime novel Inspector Chopra is fiercely pro-Indian, obviously, and refuses – like his hero Gandhi – to accept British favours. It’s quite reassuring that such a change has taken place, I feel.

And yes, anyone who knows India well, will be able to tell that I don’t. I’m merely sitting in – or maybe just outside – Western Europe, spouting opinions.

Speaking of doctors, Son was delivered by an Indian doctor. Daughter was helped into this world by a Brazilian midwife. Both occasions were in England, a mile away from the street we lived in, where the the neighbourhood children were quite happy to tell mine to go back where they came from.

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