Mass Fantasy


I am one month late acknowledging Indian Independence Day, but in a place where the word for “yesterday” is the same as that for “tomorrow,” I think I am entitled to some leniency with matters of time. In any case, I wanted to show you this garlanded Mahatma snap from a Calcutta sidewalk on August 15, India’s 58th birthday.

And also thought I’d share the following, if only because it speaks of the uniqueness of India’s countryhood. “India’s independence,” wrote Salman Rushdie, is merely “a new myth to celebrate, because a nation which had never previously existed was about to win its freedom, catapulting us into a world which, although it had five thousand years of history, although it had invented the game of chess and traded with Middle Kingdom Egypt, was nevertheless quite imaginary; into a mythical land, a country which would never exist except by the efforts of a phenomenal collective will – except in a dream we all agreed to dream; it was a mass fantasy shared in varying degrees by Bengali and Punjabi, Madrasi and Jat, and would periodically need the sanctification and renewal which can only by provided by rituals of blood. India, the new myth – a collective fiction in which anything was possible, a fable rivaled only by the two other mighty fantasies: money and God.”

And although I am a month late for India, I am right on time for Independence Day in Nicaragua, who turns 167 years old today. Felicidades, jodida!

And finally, today marks our half-way hump in India, two-and-a-half months down, two-and-a-half to go. Till Thailand…

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