Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Modernity & middle-class

Liechty offers an inspiring cultural analysis of modern life in Nepal that is deeply rooted in history. -- Laura Kunreuther, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

Liechty offers an inspiring cultural analysis of modern life in
Nepal that is deeply rooted in history. He thereby connects this seemingly out-of-the-way place to the rest of the world. More generally, Suitably Modern provides a theoretically subtle depiction of middle-class cultural practice that promises to be read by a wide range of scholars interested in class and global capitalism for some time in the future. (Laura Kunreuther Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences )

This important and clearly written book should be read by anyone interested in understanding how people in the periphery of the capitalist world economy are experiencing the processes of globalization. (Susan Hangen Journal of Asian Business ) [Indias Middle Class: New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity (Cities and the Urban Imperative)Ritual Matters: Dynamic Dimensions in PracticeEmpowering Visions: The Politics of Representation in Hindu Nationalism (Anthem South Asian Studies)Image Journeys]

A 30-year survey of the urban Indian charts our ‘progress’ from the days of Chitrahaar to the present

It all began in the era of the scooter—before the Maruti came and created a real middle class. Families shared clothes, letting out trouser hems and letting them in again for their children. The great buy was stainless steel, looking out of the window was television, and entire families went to the hills for the summer, to send a telegram home to say ‘reached safely’. No one looked at nature but went to eat channa bhaturas, get photographed wearing silly hats and to reduce the hill station to everyday Indian chaos.
A little prosperity came slowly. Families moved into quarters designated Type 2 A, 14B/43 of Phase 1. All appliances—a radio, B&W TV, a stereo, refrigerator and mixie—were displayed in the drawing room and the whole neighbourhood dropped in to watch Chitrahaar. Then of course came the Maruti, but first, Hindi movies and serials came into the house through the television and changed everybody—except of course Ma, the ageless Indian mother.
Desai studied matrimonial advertisements over 30 years and notes the shift from boasting about the family to a search for handsome mates, preferably fair. The older ads conveyed mysterious advantages like ‘mother pious lady’ or ‘brother settled in USA’, the alliance being one of families than of a couple. That has changed. The wedding now emphasises sex, sanctioned and fully prepared for, followed by the honeymoon, as decreed, when wooing commences, and husband and wife enact their real roles in private, getting away from ‘the exaggerated respect we accord to a new car, careful not to scratch....’ […]
Desai is the nearest thing to a R.K. Laxman in prose—a chronicler of middle-class India. He answers no social science imponderables, but hundreds of little questions. This chronicle is a diary—of a people—and like a diary written over thirty years, grows into something it never started out to be. As the Economist once noted, ‘Why is the modern view of progress so impoverished’? Desai puts it differently. Why have we ceased to despise vulgarity? At Rs 399, worth buying and laughing over. Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense Of Everyday India By Santosh Desai, HarperCollins [City Stories : Tales from Here and There]

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