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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

Globetrotter's Nama

Multicultural angst fuels a bad trip for Iyer

Globetrotter's Nama
Globetrotter's Nama
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The Global Soul is an ode to a peculiar brand of weightlessness: the lightness of being born of too much air travel. Iyer is the hero of these essays, boldly going where the rest of us will apparently follow: into "mongrel worlds" where "more and more of us cross borders in our private lives, or choose to live with foreign cultures in our arms". How does Iyer make the grade as a Global Soul? Easy: "because, having grown up simultaneously in three cultures [Indian, English and American], none of them fully my own, I acquired very early the sense of being loosed from time as much as from space - I had no history, and lived under the burden of no home..."

Give me a break! So he's an NRI. A BBCD. So he has a gazillion frequent flyer miles. He has a girlfriend in Japan and a friend who once had a mile high experience. Who cares?

Iyer keeps up a relentless barrage of naive observations that only emphasise the banality of his global sensibility. The one essay in this book that rises above Iyer's trademark post-modern schmaltz is an entertaining piece on a month spent at LAX (LA International Airport to non-global souls). It's a great idea, and yields an exceptional essay, full of insight and delight. Here Iyer steps out of the "free-floating state of temporary intimacy" that characterises most airport experiences and actually tests the gravity for a change. Sadly, it's only a brief interlude before he's off again into the "floating world" he prefers.

Iyer's apparent "homelessness" is really a privilege - one that he obscures in the romanticised multiculturalism of his essays on Toronto or the Atlanta Olympics and the self-regard of the final chapter on his Japanese domicile ("an equivalent to living in the wilderness").

A jetsetter is not an ascetic, much less a refugee. The fact is, Iyer isn't global at all. He's just from another...

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