The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters
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In Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India itself, William Dalrymple searches for evidence of Kali Yug, the Hindu 'age of darkness.' Venturing to places rarely visited by foreigners, he travels deep into guerilla territory with the Tamil Tigers, visits Benazir Bhutto and meets the drug lords of the North West Frontier. He unveils a regions where the strengths and problems of both modernity and tradition remain to be reconciled. The result is this engrossing, eagle-eyed and utterly enthralling collection.
felt that there was no problem that would be too great for him to solve so I was not worried ever, or too anxious, because I always felt I always had my father to fall back on.’ From the beginning of the interview it was clear that trying to halt Benazir in mid-flow was no easier than stopping Lady Thatcher, whom she has frequently cited as her role model (and with whom, incidentally, she had tea and scones at the Dorchester on her last visit to London). She has clearly studied her mentor’s
to.’ I was on the tarmac of the military airbase by nine the following morning, being thoroughly frisked by a huge military policeman, when a black Mercedes pulled up beside the Prime Minister’s jet. Out of it piled two of Benazir’s Filipino nannies, a pile of Louis Vuitton bags, a crate of Evian water and Benazir’s youngest child, the beautiful ten-month-old Asifa, decked out in a red OshKosh B’Gosh designer jumpsuit. After the nursery party had been ushered on board, an ADC showed me to my
period Lucknow was famed as one of the richest kingdoms in Asia. For today the city is as shabby and impoverished as anywhere in India. Waves of squabbling cycle-rickshaw drivers pass down the potholed roads, bumping in and out of the puddles. Rubbish lies uncollected by the roadside, with dogs competing with rats to snuffle in the piles of garbage. Beside them, lines of desperate street-vendors squat on dirty rush-mats, displaying their tawdry collections of cheap plastic keyrings and fake Rolex
come for you again?’ ‘Then we will welcome them. They are also victims of their culture.’ ‘You are a brave man.’ Dr Tyagi shrugged his shoulders. ‘I am a common man,’ he said. The countryside was scorched white desert: hot, flat scrub, all sand-flats and dust-devils. As we drove through it the light sand rose in clouds, gritting my mouth and powdering my hair, so that I emerged from the car like some stage octogenarian. A hundred years ago there was jungle here, but the tree-fellers came
spend its cash on consumer fripperies like televisions, books, art and clothes. Money began to filter down to middle-class teenagers, some of whom began to spend their pocket money in the new wave of bars and discothèques which mushroomed in Bombay. Then, in 1991, the Hong Kong-based satellite network Star TV began to beam in to India. Overnight the skyline of Indian cities was transformed, as satellite dishes began to outnumber the spires of the Hindu temples and the domes of the mosques. The