Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond

Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond

Pankaj Mishra

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0312426410

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

In Temptations of the West, Pankaj Mishra brings literary authority and political insight to bear on journeys through South Asia, and considers the pressures of Western-style modernity and prosperity on the region. Beginning in India, his examination takes him from the realities of Bollywood stardom, to the history of Jawaharlal Nehru's post-independence politics. In Kashmir, he reports on the brutal massacre of thirty-five Sikhs, and its intriguing local aftermath. And in Tibet, he exquisitely parses the situation whereby the atheist Chinese government has discovered that Tibetan Buddhism can be "packaged and sold to tourists." Temptations of the West is essential reading about a conflicted and rapidly changing region of the world.

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was a strong and principled ruler, someone who could crush the Maoists. He said that he missed Dipendra; he was the man Nepal needed at this hour of crisis. According to him, Dipendra’s three years as a schoolboy in Britain had radicalized him. Just as Pandit Nehru had discovered the poverty of India after his stints at Harrow and Cambridge, so Dipendra had developed a new political awareness in England. He had begun to look, with mounting horror and concern, at his homeland. Returning to Nepal,

karaoke bars and video game parlors standing next to Buddhist temples in Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan community in exile. Our modern fantasies of a simple and whole past are fragile. Perhaps, that’s why we hold on to them so tenaciously. In Tibet, I sought to confirm everything I had imagined about it, and for the first few days at least, I was not disappointed. The magic began on the flight to Lhasa from Kathmandu when defying predictions of

“There is no opposition from the residents, who in any case fear the mafia man and what he might do to them.” I had met the man she mentioned. His name was Atiq Ahmed. He was a Muslim politician who had just resigned from the Samajwadi Party over its failure to back Sonia Gandhi in her attempts to form a coalition government after the BJP government’s collapse, and he lived in the warren of narrow lanes, with overhanging two- or three-story houses and small shops, which made up the old quarter

traveling in my car after the Jeep had filled up with local Congress leaders, and a little while before he had been explaining to me why Mrs. Bahuguna would win. There was no question about the areas we were traveling through; her father had done so much work here, they all remembered him. Teachers all across the state (and there were sixty thousand in Allahabad constituency alone), he said, were going to vote against the BJP and for the Congress. They had been on a strike protesting their low

expression on her face did not break, the eyes remained glassy, she hadn’t cried at all, someone standing behind me said, and she needed to if she wasn’t to go insane with grief. When I walked over to the other side of the village, where another sixteen men had been similarly lined up and fired upon at close range, the bodies were still being transported to the gurdwara in improvised stretchers. There was a delay when a young widow sitting on the muddy ground would not let go of her dead

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