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Friday, September 30, 2011

NY Times: a Column by Siddhartha Deb

Once upon a time some place in India there was a guy who was riding daily his bicycle everywhere he needed to go. Sometimes he was carrying also his wife on the crossbar. Both of them were happy, life was good. As the wife was advancing in age, her tummy was taking proportions and one day she felt from the bicycle. Funny to watch the scene from some distance, but for him: the wife got furious and accused him to be good of nothing.

This was once upon a time, which in India means in the early nineties. Meanwhile the consumer society penetrated there as everywhere, together with cheap credit, malls and automobile culture.

In many ways, the marriage between the Indian middle class and the automobile culture has been disastrous: roads remain awful, drivers continue to be erratic, and traffic in cities like Delhi and Bangalore is worse than ever; and yet the car has become deeply enmeshed with upward mobility, while also complicating this mobility, says Siddhartha Deb (author of The Point of Return and The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India). And he continues, the distinction used to be between those who owned cars and those who didn't, while now distinctions are parsed in terms of the model one owns.
Here is his column in today's NY Times:

(A Life in Books)



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