Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bali, Java, In My Dreams by Christine Jordis-Just Not my Cup of Java!

This book is, so far (I'm hardly through with the first chapter), another example of how not to write. 
The very first paragraph is an excellent illustration. The author begins thus: 
Seen from the plane, during the rainy season...
and proceeds to describe what can never ever be seen from a plane. 
She then merrily carries on, wading daintily in her foetid imagination, through  a very depressing description of Jakarta-not at all how I saw the place. Could it be that I'm Indian and she is not? Could the colour of her skin have so blinded her that, with nary a care for the feelings of any Indonesian who might read the book, she wallows in a most obnoxious desire to follow in the footsteps of Conrad and co. 
Perhaps, however, Bali, Java, en rêvant  might be just the book for you if you want some trivia about Europeans who wrote about these regions in times past. 
A deplorable book, by any standard, but not an uncommon one.
In my childhood, I heard of Europeans, people of European origin, who visit the lands they had once systematically abused through the machinery of colonialism, and promptly publish a book upon their return. In the same vein, one noted in the course of the years, almost as if it were a matter of pride, a trait to be emulated, these white skinned foreigners visiting India, hanging around x or y artiste or crafts persons or the like and pulling a book out the top of their hats within a short time of their going back from where they had come.   In short, these modern day offspring of erstwhile bandits seemed to tell us: the only worthwhile thing in life is to make money. Whatever you see, hear, experience, go forth and make it your own, make money out of it. So, whatever be the subject, there exists a white person who has written a book on it based on "authentic" experience. 
Alas, most of us others still fall flat on our faces in abject adoration that so and so white person visited such and such sitar player or weaver or other local talent and, what is more, wrote a book about that person! 
It seems besides the point to most that one is minting money out of the talents of another to whom one never really gives much/any of the rewards gained by publishing one's "encounters" with the real salt of the earth.
To conclude, it is also necessary to remark that, more often than not, such works are riddled with inaccuracies which once published pass off as God's own truth. At the very least, such authors serve to perpetuate prejudice.
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