‘Dreamers’ by Snigdha Poonam was recently recommended to me by one of our teammates as a ‘must-read’ and I dived into the book immediately. It is a fascinating account of young India, and we plan to do our own review of the book soon in a regular post. Meanwhile, if you do want a first-hand account of the thirst that drives a significant slice of India’s ambitious youth in today’s world, Poonam’s experiences will be eye-opening. Link to the book: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674988170&content=reviews
However, this morning, on our brief post Cutting Chai, we would like to introduce a podcast to add to your listening list. India Explained is a series by two delightful presenters Rohit and Bunty, who chat about stories from India, ranging between the bizarre and the banal. From their distant homes (London and San Francisco were they now live) they pick their topics from news feeds, personal encounters and public opinion. Using the story as a starting point, they cover a range of issues that are balanced and insightful. Some of the podcasts I have recently sampled relate to quintessentially Indian experiences like train travel, school education, political debate, godmen, personality politics and peculiar encounters that can happen ‘only in India’. An interview with Singdha Poonam about her book Dreamers: On the hopes and challenges of small town India in the age of globalization, is the reason why these two topics appear together on Cutting Chai today. You can catch that on this link, we would love to know what you think about this:
Regarding their other posts, the hosts meander eloquently between different positions with some skepticism towards many contemporary trends and an obvious affection for an Indian-ness that they have grown up with. There is also a sense of hopefulness about the ordinary Indian, a genuine, hard-working person going about doing an ordinary job for a meagre salary, who they believe are the backbone of the nation. This can be heard resoundingly in the most recent episode on November 7th Bunty sees a Tiger.
Bunty and Rohit’s memories of somewhat anxious but affectionate times as children in a middle-class family with few dreams, selected ambitions and moderate means punctuate their posts with delightful examples that the audience can easily relate with. I find their posts to be authentic, entertaining, insightful and endearing, despite the fact that you may not always agree with their opinions. Furthermore, their conversational exchanges are characterised by confident and easy rather than being polemic, and one does not find any trace of the earlier tendencies of Indians abroad of being defensive, apologetic, contemptuous or romantic. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-indiaexplained-podcast