There is a little anecdote about Mark Tully from the days before television. If you went to an Indian village and said you were from BBC, they would ask if you were Mark Tully. If the answer was No, the villagers were disappointed. Such is the charm of Mark Tully and the place he enjoys in hearts and minds of many Indians, who grew up listening to BBC on AM radio.
This book is most interesting in that it is a truthful depiction of the diversity and the finer nuances of India, normally visible or intelligible only to the most sensitive and intelligent of Indian minds and blocked out by most of the middle class, obscured by the daily struggle of living. He touches upon various themes including the continued stigma of untouchability in India, our colonial baggage and how it impacts our love of our own languages (compared to English and by the way the Indian constitution recognises 26 major languages, give and take a few), the Sati, the Kumbh Mela (widely televised in the UK last year).
What is intriguing to most outsiders is how these ancient practices co-exist with the visions of modern India. That is where Mark Tully is different from others. Having spent many years in India, and living now in Delhi, he has not just seen it as tourist interest but as an introspective journalist analysed it all. One of the fascinating results is this book.
Highly recommended if you want to understand the enigma of India (and Indians). If you are the Palace-on-wheels tourist, with all respect (since you bring dollars to the Indian economy), skip it. It might give you an upset stomach.