Three months in India. I have been undisciplined and did not take notes every night. I have lived and learned. I wonder sometimes if writers read. I write and say I need to read. I read and I say, I want to write. But I am in a country I am discovering and that often does not understand itself. I feel so ignorant when comes time to write about it. But some thoughts have been measured and confirmed.
When you read this paragraph, you just say: “I will read this book.” That is what I am doing.
“IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A vast, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semi-feudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England.”
Indian Summer, The secret history of the end of an empire, by Alex von Tunzelmann
And then my mind goes into the history, trying to understand the India of today. I have heard politicians speak with a tone of nationalism that seem to want to bring India to the “greatness” it once knew. Times when people came from other countries to attend the first university in the world. When there was gold and precious stones in the markets maybe. Of what greatness was he speaking about? It left me curious.
Some Indians know that. That is the only space they have. In the slums, no choice. I many parts of the cities, no choice. In the rural area where there is more space, a family often choose to share only one room with their children. Maybe they do not choose, it has been this way for ever and they continue, satisfied of one room.
There must be part of the Indian population who have no idea what they mean when speaking of going back to greatness. Where is that exactly? Is greatness a place to re-visit?
Has there ever been greatness in the rice fields of the world aside from their beauty? Aside from the hand-made work done to them to nourish so many people in the world? Is greatness not there?