Thursday 13 February 2014


So here's what sums up why this book failed to impress me: 

Halfway through, Delisle is showing a western journalist/illustrator around Burma/Myanmar. He points out how people carry their umbrellas stuffed into the back of their longyis (or lungis as we call them in India) and also sometimes hanging from the backs of their shirt collars - which he calls 'weird'. I don't know man. Walking through crowded chaotic streets - makes sense you'd want your hands free. But because that's not how they do it back in Canafrancadapolis, it's 'weird'. 

A few pages later, Delisle and the other white guy are stuck under a tree in a rural area, stranded in the rains. A villager comes running up to them twice, to bring an umbrella each for them. He then invites them back to his house to warm up and eat something. Someone who speaks English is found to interpret. Delisle explains that a government worker also has to be present to report on their conversations. 

In all this, Delilsle fails to note the selfless compassion shown by a man who at least once walked back to his home without an umbrella to help out two grown men who were incapable of making their way through the same rain. In fact, looking at the drawings (in Delisle's crude but moderately effective style), it is clear that their host never used an umbrella himself. 

You know what's 'weird' Delisle? The fact that you take this incredible act of gallantry totally for granted. that's fucking weird.

1 comment:

Kaustubh Thirumalai said...

Interesting! I haven't read this - the only Delisle I have read is Pyongyang and I suppose, in such a bizarre scenario and area, that 'weird' from Delisle's POV would fit the bill for most anything?