25 October, 2020

Hindi-Chini, By And By

Lazy neo-Orientalist perspectives have clouded our view of China. A first-hand narration clears the air.

Hindi-Chini, By And By
An Indian window has finally been opened into contemporary China. Scores of books are now available on life in a changing China. But Pallavi Aiyer, teacher and journalist, is the first young Indian to have lived the experience and written about it. She has written a witty, insightful and profound book that every educated Indian must read to understand the life and loves, the fears and hopes, the ups and downs of our biggest, oldest and most important neighbour.

Aiyer landed in booming Beijing to teach English to young and aspiring Chinese at the Beijing Broadcasting Institute. She learnt the language; learnt to eat "real" Chinese food—frog’s legs and all—chose to live in a traditional Beijing neighbourhood, a hutong; refused to run away when the fear of SARS gripped China, and travelled all over by various means. Living with a Spanish partner who’s a diplomat opened doors to a globalised new Beijing throbbing with activity. Living among the locals in a hutong opened windows into an old and dying Beijing. This dual exposure enables...



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