Temptations of the West How to Be Modern in India Pakistan


  • Paperback
  • 323 pages
  • Temptations of the West How to Be Modern in India Pakistan Tibet and Beyond
  • Pankaj Mishra
  • English
  • 12 November 2016
  • 9780312426415

10 thoughts on “Temptations of the West How to Be Modern in India Pakistan Tibet and Beyond

  1. says:

    My first read of 2020 turned out to be an interesting one I don't know why it is titled Temptations of the west How to be modern in India Pakistan and beyond while buying I just thought it was a travelogue But anyway the author says nothing related to the title except he covers in his travels Kashmir Pakistan Afghanistan Nepal and Tibet and instead of talking about places and cuisine and other trivia like most travelogues he talks about geo political issues that shaped all these places in the last one century or so I would recommend this book just for his discussion of the Kashmir conflict which I badly wanted to know the way this book made me did It kind of confirms whatever Arundhati Roy says in The Ministry of utmost happiness The coverage of Afghanistan conflict is eually good but the chain of events or the circle of violence that made a ruin of that country would leave your head spinning After reading that I was happy that I was in India and happy for whatever I have I didn't care much for Nepal and Tibet though they are short chapters tugged at the end and by which time I was tired of all the bloodshed and violence I would've immensely preferred had he instead chosen to cover Sri Lanka The book came out in 2007 and the civil war was still on at that time He had covered some Bollywood too I don't know for what reason maybe for better sales or in an effort to keep it a bit light I didn't mind it and it was mildly funnyAn interesting book if you are interested in the mentioned things and not mislead by the title


  2. says:

    My feelings on Temptations of the West are very mixed To start the book has little do with the title or subtitle How to be Modern Mishra writes mainly of the history of the subcontinent rather than its future His journalistic tendencies come out a lot throughout the book Each chapter reads like distinct articles rather than as chapters of a single unified book However whether they are distinct articles or unifying chapters his editor could have been stepped in Particularly in the chapters on Kashmir and Pakistan he really could have wrapped his points better There was always another episode or encounter that got in the way of the larger narrative On the positive Mishra get his content spot on I will start with Kashmir As a secular Hindu Indian American I have never understood why India and Pakistan have pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war 2 4 times over this woe begotten state of rock and snow I've heard fundamentalist Hindus or nationalistic Indians argue passionately that India should sacrifice all to keep Kashmir to avenge Kargil But why? The argument usually follows the vein of it belongs to us Misra provides context for both Muslims and Hindus He also provides a thread that links the anti Soviet Afghan freedm fighters to the Kashmiri insurgency movement 1990s and back to the Taliban of the 2000s Mishra does this a lot Whether it his chapter on Ayodhya or Allahabad he provides links to other mass movements in the subcontinent over the past 100 years The larger point that he seems to make is that the region is a much brutal and hopeless place than I've ever thought Ex it's the fate of Brahmins whose land was taken by Nehru and then whose job prospects were given to untouchables Or Muslims who escape one massacre just to wait for the next massacre all with the governments tacit approval Or it's Afghan women who either face the rage of extremists in the city or the dead arid land in the countryside Pankaj dude let's go out get a beer watch some football and lighten up a bit Or should that be a hot toddy and cricket


  3. says:

    An extremely insightful book providing an illuminating account of Pankaj Mishra's travels in India Pakistan Afghanistan Nepal and Tibet Mishra takes us to cities and remote regions in these countries uniuely experiencing modernity development and changes wrought by capitalism Meeting politicians social activists religious fanatics traders intellectuals and ordinary men and women Mishra elucidates local history politics conflict and gains made by the powerful and the privileged The prologue is one of the most well written sections of the book in which Mishra tells the story of his stay in the historical town of Varanasi time spent in a fast dying public library and his encounter with a very interesting character Rajesh The chapters on Allahabad Ayodhya Kashmir and Pakistan are also brilliantly written and make one think hard about people trying to eke out a respectable existence amid tumult and turmoil This book not only focuses on the aspirations of common people in South Asia and beyond but also puts a spotlight on the chauvinism and appalling indifference exhibited by the urban middle classes Many hailing from the urban areas of India and Pakistan normally supporting the majoritarian rule will find this book revealing and might even come to uestion the lies systematically fed to them by the state and mainstream media


  4. says:

    Wow This is totally my kind of nonfiction The author an Indian educated journalist lends his personal understanding of South Asian culture language and history to current events in these countries The first chapter was my favorite especially the strange juxtaposition of a Brahman immersed in Edmund Wilson with a Princeton undergrad smoking hookah in late 80s Benares Throughout the book I was disturbed by the accounts of corruption and violence that rampages in nations pushed into modernization compared to the middle class corruption of 19th century Paris but I was glad to find a happy ending The conclusion is that a nation or people who are grounded in eternal moral principles can withstand any chain of world eventsIronically the journalistic style of the book reminded me of those I've read by Krakauer; the differences are that I found this book much intellectually challenging and deeply empathized with the views of this author


  5. says:

    Pankaj Mishra is one of the finest essayists of contemporary literary sphere He is a native of Jhansi Uttar Pradesh After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Allahabad University he earned his MA in English Literature from JNU Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi He started his writing career by contributing literary essays and reviews in various literary journals and newspapers especially in The Pioneer in early 1990sI must say that I was ignorant about this man of letters until an online friend from Assam who provided me a lost story that I was looking for told me recently and suggested to read his first book ‘Butter Chicken in Ludhiyana’ Well I couldn’t get that one but I got his other book ‘Temptations of the West How to be Modern in India Pakistan Tibet and Beyond’Apparently this is a non fiction but it was hard for me to categorize it in any certain sub genre It’s a mix of autobiography history contemporary politics and travelogueThe book is divided in three parts and it has a Prologue also In the Prologue the author talks about his Benaras days where he spent four months in late 1980s and how he came across reading Edmund Wilson in BHU Benaras Hindu University ’s library and how his writings affected Mishra’s thought process A great many other writers are also fleetingly mentioned whose works Mishra read and how they helped him to analyze the cause and conseuences of the present days and History is also described Rajesh a frustrated graduate from BHU author’s friend in Benaras has got the special mention and how he becomes a contract killer under small leaders of eastern UP Uttar Pradesh and also how young men like him get entangled in crime going through an identity crisis and end up in jail Later the author tries to formulate an euation between Rajesh and Fredrich Moreau the protagonist of Gustave Flaubert’s Sentimental Education Mishra asserts that both Rajesh and Fredrich were in the search of identity survival and happiness and thus their actions were motivated by thatPart 1 has three essays based on Allahabad Ayodhya and Bollywood Mumbai respectively Mishra had lived in Allahabad as a university student during 1985 1988 and in September 2000 he visits Allahabad again as a journalist His narrative about Allahabad Go to the link to read the detailed review


  6. says:

    An illuminating read by an excellent writer Content was nicely presented lively and from an interesting viewpoint Recommended if you’re interested in learning about the people culture and day to day life in India


  7. says:

    It's been at least 10 years since I read this book I remember thoroughly enjoying it Overall it was very insightful and an eye opener


  8. says:

    I really enjoyed it because I got to read about Nepal and Kashmir and Hindu nationalism and Afghanistan places about which I had known nothing before But I have a feeling that I will return to this book after a few years and find it pretty much self mastabatory is that a word?


  9. says:

    This is the first book by Mishra that I have read I’d heard of him from his fights with Rushdie and Ferguson In my mind he was always the review world’s Rakhi Sawant Reading this book has possibly elevated him – Sawants and Kardashians don’t go to Afghanistan and Tibet – but it still is a tepid book ‘A sparkling collection’ the back cover declares ‘Pankaj Mishra looks at the surprising ways modernity has come to South Asia’ It also notes that the books contains ‘lurid and astonishing characters’ from ‘societies that are struggling to define themselves’ Every writers dream every readers nightmare While the characters might be intriguing to a westerner who is being introduced to South Asia by this book they are no revelation to us natives With one foot in JNU’s campus and one foot in London where as he notes he divides his time Mishra peeks into Mumbai where he critiues the likes of KHNH and KKHH for the NRI’s Mallika Sherawat ‘As she spoke she kept brushing back thick wavy hair from her full lipped oval face Mallika and I sat on the sofa separated by a few inches – the narrow space into which she suddenly dropped while still speaking of Almodovar two glossy photos’ and a struggler doesn’t everyone writing about Bollywood? In Afghanistan he meets war lords and new ministers struggling to find a place in the new country – and in Tibet where he travels by Land Cruiser he sadly admires the beauty While to us there might be nothing new in Mishra’s essay’s maybe someone in the west might find use with the book Sadly he seems to have taken the role of the slightly leftist conscience keeper to readers in the west vacated by Roy who has scooted well – to the left Mishra has probably just started thriving in that world I just hope he starts writing better books – because he seems to be an otherwise excellent writer


  10. says:

    Mishra is a very good writer and this book is in many ways illuminating It discusses some aspects of contemporary life the stresses of contemporary life in South Asia I had hoped for of the sort of analysis the title seems to promise an explicit examination of the strains put on the people in these nations by the demands of modernity and the modern market culture Instead the book is largely narrative not in itself a bad thing with each chapter following a regular pattern exemplary narrative background or history exemplary narrative The book is also a reworking of articles published in the New Yorker and sometimes has an episodic feel Weakest is the chapter on Nepal; best the one on Pakistan and the section on Kashmir A good book but not the one I'd hoped for and expected


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Temptations of the West How to Be Modern in India Pakistan Tibet and Beyond A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceIn Temptations of the West Pankaj Mishra brings literary authority and political insight to bear on journeys through South Asia and considers the pressures of Western style modernity and prosperity on the region Beginning in India his examination takes him from the realities of Bollywood stardom to the history of Jawaharlal Nehru's post independence politics In Kashmir he reports on the brutal massacre of thirty five Sikhs and its intriguing local aftermath And in Tibet he exuisitely parses the situation whereby the atheist Chinese government has discovered that Tibetan Buddhism can be packaged and sold to tourists Temptations of the West is essential reading about a conflicted and rapidly changing region of the world


About the Author: Pankaj Mishra

Pankaj Mishra पंकज मिश्रा is a noted Indian essayist and novelistIn 1992 Mishra moved to Mashobra a Himalayan village where he began to contribute literary essays and reviews to The Indian Review of Books The India Magazine and the newspaper The Pioneer His first book Butter Chicken in Ludhiana Travels in Small Town India 1995 was a travelogue that described the social and cultural c