29 September, 2020

And Then There Was Ma

A 30-year survey of the urban Indian charts our ‘progress’ from the days of Chitrahaar to the present

Narendra Bisht
And Then There Was Ma

Articles strung together into a book are generally avoidable but Santosh Desai has put together his weekly ‘City City Bang Bang’ columns into a hilarious chronicle of urban India, and the way we Indians have changed over the last decades. Who exactly are ‘we’? Difficult question—Samuel Huntington wrote a monumental book with just that title, and Desai in his last chapters attempts to ask some grand philosophical questions about where India is headed. Apparently only ‘we’ know.

It all began in the era of the scooter—before the Maruti came and created a real middle class. Families shared clothes, letting out trouser hems and letting them in again for their children. The great buy was stainless steel, looking out of the window was television, and entire families went to the hills for the summer, to send a telegram home to say ‘reached safely’. No one looked at nature but went to eat channa bhaturas, get photographed wearing silly hats and to reduce the hill station to everyday...



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