India-England : a love affair

Farmer picking cotton bales. Gujarat, India.

The English left India more than 60 years ago but sometimes it seems they are still there. The english language is everywhere, well this is indian english, something very particular that reminds the old days, the time of the Raj, when the British ruled India. Cricket, polo, the double-deckers still used in Mumbaï, the victorian decoration of the best hotels,…everything testify to four centuries of English presence.

We can question the impact such a long cohabitation has had on two countries that are so different. In the long run, mixed marriages happened. A small Anglo-Indians caste appeared ( 150.000 at the time of the Independence) but, on the whole, English have always isolated themselves from Indians. ( Indians did the same but for other reasons.) Indeed, most of the British civil servants had only ignorance and contempt for the natives whom nevertheless fascinated other western countries. Churchill himself described the Mahatma Gandhi as a “dirty fakir”… May be it’s because of this indifference that English left India peacefully, rather respected by the locals.

But India got its revenge. The country has strongly influenced the British collective subconscious. An abundant litterature is there to prove it, from Kipling to Scott, from Thackeray to Orwell,… In all these novels where India is omnipresent, Indians are rare. Most of the time, there is only one Indian character, a maharajah or a notable, who because he is humble as well as proud, is perceived as incomprehensible and puzzling. But he is always presented as seductive and scandalous. And at the end, he is always defeated, humiliated, imprisoned or exiled in another region.

Nowadays, the tone has changed but English still write novels about India. The love affair still exists.


About travelerreport

My blog is all about travelling and photography
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