11 May, 2021

White Man's Guilt

An outstanding, angry travelogue culminating in self realisation

White Man's Guilt
IN 1978, Robyn Davidson travelled to the camel fair in Pushkar; was intrigued by what she saw; and resolved to come back and spend a year travelling with a group of nomads in the Aravallis. More than a decade passed before she could realise her wish. And then everything—or, almost everything—went horribly wrong.

Travel books on India are a cottage industry for thumb-sucking writer-wannabes in the West: plainly, there's no better place than the former colonies in which to achieve literary manhood. Unfortunately for them, the blunt xenophobia and facile contempt of Paul Theroux has been shunted into obsolescence; the imperatives of political correctness don't permit anything beyond the amusement-tinged condescension which is these writers' primary narratorial stance. Desert Places clearly breaks the mould—could it be because the author is a woman, white, and single, and therefore exposed to a wholly different experience of India, to far greater hardships than the relatively less vulnerable male traveller?

Let it be said right off: readers expecting...

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