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In his compelling new book the acclaimed travel writer, explores the worlds of people deeply engaged with the sacred in a fast changing India.

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Daily Mail
Oct 26, 2009
Will’s Divine Touch

William Dalrymple’s Dancer of Kannur transported me back to my hometown (Oct 12). I loved every word in the piece.

Kannur P. Rajan, Mumbai

Hari Das’s tale has re-exposed the politician-goonda nexus that runs from Kerala’s prisons.

Ramon Terence Iyer, on e-mail

Dalrymple’s a good writer who knows what sells. And there’s always a market for Indian exotica.

M. Srinivasulu, Hyderabad

Dalrymple proves every cliche about the patronising white man. His extract is apparently about the sacred but its obsessions are about caste oppression, a favourite hobby horse of India-bashers. A twist of the knife into Kerala, since it is generally considered an egalitarian state in this regard. The still deeper twist is the very ‘barbarity’ of the frenzied dances, the beheading of chickens and drinking of blood directly. This would never happen in the white-tie, spoons-and-forks dinner tables of the First World, would it? He is in line with Katherine Mayo, Edward Snow and even Danny Boyle on this. They profit from India’s undeniable misery, the Wretched Other.

Narasimhan M.G., Bangalore

Brilliant writing, vintage Dalrymple. As always, he paints in light, sure strokes, making the exotic seem close and real. The sad part of the story is that even today, within a 100 kilometres from the malls and the IT parks of our metros, old caste inequities still flourish. I suspect, though, that Dalrymple exaggerates its scale in this tale. Present-day Kerala is far less feudal than many other states in India.

Vijay Menon, Bangalore

I’ve read everything that Dalrymple has written; a lot of it is very good. I have also attended one or two of his lectures at the Royal Geographic Society. But his sympathies lie more with Pakistan than with the country where he has spent half his time in the last 20 years.

Swaraj Paul, London

India is a saleable brand in the West, write anything and you’re assured of a readership.

Ramesh Raghuvanshi, Pune

Does culture only mean blindly following tradition without questioning it? Does it not mean treating all human beings with respect, preserving the best in our own culture and incorporating the good in others?

Anup, Hartford, US

A few months back, I bought Dalrymple’s The Last Mughal and began reading it with no great expectations. Having grown up in Delhi and served the Indian army which still carries on with traditions handed down by the British, I found it easy to relate to his writing. He occupies space Indian historians have shown little inclination to explore, namely the life and times of royals and commoners in the period in equal measure. And that is why he gets readers.

Sudhir Sharma, Bangalore

Nov 02, 2009
Make-Up Appeal

William Dalrymple’s piece is a brilliant feat of exact imagery (The Dancer of Kannur, Oct 12). The writing was rich and evocative, with a period movie-like feel. Some of it came as a revelation  even to ethnic Indians.

G. Venkatesh, Dukhan, Qatar
Oct 03, 2009
08:21 PM
India is saleable brand in west, you can write any thing on India you will get reader in west because west is completely brankrupt culturaly, morraly.Weste `s literature,philosophy is dead,science killed their common sense,they are behaving just like robots. Indian philosophy, rituals give them relief so they turn to these kind of books
Ramesh Raghuvanshi
pune, India
Oct 04, 2009
06:02 PM
Brilliant writing, vintage Dalrymple. As always, he paints in light, sure strokes, making the exotic seem close and real. The sad part of the story of course is that even today, within a 100 kilometers from the malls and the IT parks of our metros, old caste inequities still flourish. I suspect though that Dalrymple exaggerates its scale in this tale. Present day Kerala far less feudal than may other states in India.
Vijay Menon
Bangalore, India
Oct 04, 2009
10:36 PM
very good- fascinateing.

should be filmed and shown all over in india, and the west.
gayatri devi
delhi, India
Oct 06, 2009
01:14 AM
Responding to Mr. Raghuvanshi's comments, i find your generalizations coming out of misinforrmed narrow mindedness. I find this myopic idea that India is culturally superior and west is not cultured, very prevalent. Doesn't It all depend on what you call culture ? Does culture Only mean performing the rituals, traditions without questioning them ? Does culture not mean treating all humans equal and with mutual respect, following laws, helping each other, working hard to preserve ethics, establishing conversation with each other. We need to have our mind open to even know what from our "culture" we need to preserve and what is that we need to learn from others and incorporate in our culture.
Hartford, USA
Oct 08, 2009
11:11 AM
"If you look at the history of Britain In India, there must be ghosts" - Jewel in the crown, BBC Serial.

Gaya, June 4(ANI): Similar to Ripley's series of 'Believe it or not', the ghost of a British citizen in Gaya demands tea and biscuits from people who pass by that area near the graveyard. People say that a beloved of an Englishman who died in 1806 used to appear in the form of a human being and would ask for tea and biscuits from passerbyes. If they did not oblige, they had to face the wrath of the ghost.

IS Theyyam a reflection of a primitive people? Or is it like the satellite in "Haroun Rashid and the sea of stories" - whose orbit is controlled by "Processes Too Complicated To Explain"? Let us try at

Narasimhan M.G
Bangalore, India
Oct 08, 2009
06:10 PM
Dalrymple briliant writings, notwithstanding to his request to be treated as Indian is very European - distance to religion, separatnes of individual as a human being at first and religious subject as second.I unfortunately also personally lack Indian undivisive mind which is advantage in life.
Daniel S. Zbytek
Warsaw, Poland
Oct 09, 2009
01:16 AM
An urbanized and literate society may eliminate the evils and divisiveness of caste but caste as a identifying element for groups will linger-on in a less virulent form than traditional oppressive system, not only because it's way too ingrained in everyone's psyche but people still want to belong to something that's comforting and unique to them, even if it's a low caste- because it's something they can still call their own.
Springfield, United States
Oct 12, 2009
08:15 PM
This is a very visually descriptive piece of brilliant writing. A movie like presentation, full of rich imagery. Truly original and powerfully evocative, and a revelation even to ethnic Indians.
G. Venkatesh
Dukhan, Qatar
Oct 25, 2009
03:41 AM
Dalrymple is master con knowing how to fool Indians while praising Pukis. He is a Puki lovers but makes all his money from Indians. I recommend ostracising him. No need to read him even his books are distributed free. He is our enemies friend.
M. Srinivasulu
Hyderabad, India


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