Meera beautifully weighs in with an open letter to Aravind Adiga. It proves one my pet-peeve theories that the biggest intellectual celebrity is also the one with zero commonsense.
I have read much about how you came to write this book. You have been quoted as saying,â€ So, where’s this Shining India everyone’s talking about? It was time someone broke the myth,” and that â€œThe world needed to see the other side of India.”
But then Mr. Adiga, India Shining was a merely a marketing slogan and marketing slogans are not the gospel truth (it is probably the very opposite). I do think that the real perception of India outside the country is still very third world. […] You also talk about this incident which seems to have been a key inspiration. â€œI was buying furniture in New Delhi five years ago and the storeowner said, `Don’t give me cash, give me a deposit of Rs 1,000 [$25], and give the rest to the man when he delivers it.’ So when the man came to my house — and he was a very poor man — he put down the furniture and then I paid him the money. Then he asked for a Rs 10 tip which I gave it him. I was amazed that this man who made a maximum of Rs 1,000 a month or perhaps even less, was taking a bundle of money to give to his master. I wondered what made this man and people like him honest? This is something people in India take for granted. In essence, the novel began as a way of understanding this phenomenon. The social structure of the master and the servants, I realised, was not anything like in the [rest of the] worldâ€.
I, would like to suggest that what made him honest had nothing to do with servant-master but rather police-jail. Let us assume he was not servile at all, he had no family to think about, but, if he stole the money he could end up in jail. Most people like to avoid jail. A whole system of law and order is based on that.
Well I’m glad Meera thinks that way. I wonder what the Booker judges were smoking. Adiga may have shed commonsense in favour of rhetoric but what about them judges?