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
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.
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