“She calls ‘come’ through her hundred mouths through objects ridiculous and august. But come to what, she has never defined.” So wrote E.M.Forster in 1924.
A land of epic and monumental literary creations, mysterious and serene India has been calling writers of all races for ages. What attracts writers from all over the world to India?
From ancient times, India has been seen as a fantastic and marvelous land, noted for containing a multitude of curious things, from its spiritual pull to its diverse culture.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, an eminent American author, strives for recreating a new attitude to life with the help of Indian thought. Another leading American, Walt Whitman’s quest for spiritual truths also leads him to the East, particularly to the great scriptures of India. Henry David Thoreau is drawn towards Indian philosophy in his strivings for a fuller and more natural realization of self, but his response to India represents a richer and more complete integration.
The British Percy Shelley retained his interest in India till the last day of his life. Numerous references to India, scattered in his poems indicate his special interest in India. D.H.Lawrence too in his efforts to revaluate the process of civilization turned to the East. The lure of the East continued to attract him, but he seemed to waver between the West and the East and couldn’t find the meeting point of the two. Englishman James Joyce drew much from Indian philosophy, assimilating it, and presenting a new creative and artistic synthesis of the East and the West.
It can be seen that it is the old and ancient in India that attracts the foreign writer to its shores, even if not literally. The current blending of tradition and modernity is also relevant, in this context. That is why you will find foreign writers in India preferring certain places to call home. These are as varied as the megapolis of New Delhi, the Silicon Valley of India: Bangalore, the peace and quiet of Goa or the quaintness and old-world charm of Mussoorie.
New Delhi offers a vibrant culture and unparalleled access to both archival and live information on India. With India’s greatest concentration of intellectuals it allows the foreign writer to delve deep into the heart of India. Its modernity also allows many of the comforts that a writer might be used to at home. Access to the officers and staff of international consular staff as well as foreign correspondents can be used to compare notes on India from various perspectives.
Bangalore has transformed in the past few decades from a retirement hill-station to the heart of India’s vibrant Information Technology economy. The expatriates in Bangalore tend to be much younger than those in New Delhi. They also tend to be more at the cutting-edge of new-age businesses rather than being diplomats or journalists. With southern India’s beautiful cultural backdrop, Bangalore has become a new favorite of writers.
Goa has achieved world-wide fame as the ‘Ibiza’ of the East. Think Goa and you automatically think of party time! Doubtless the days from Christmas to New Year are the time to be in Goa if you want to party and celebrate.
Amazingly, for the rest of the time, Goa is one of the most peaceful and quiet cities in India. Sleepy afternoons with the population enjoying their siestas are the norm. For writers, this allows the calm background they require to focus their creative thoughts. Goa is also inexpensive, making it very easy to enjoy a good standard of living. The large resident expatriate community also makes for a pleasant social life.
Mussoorie is the quintessential British hill-station. Here one can well and truly stop to smell the roses. The old-world charm and easy pace of life are a soothing balm for the mind. This serenity unlocks many creative doors in the writer’s brain. Ruskin Bond, India’s beloved “foreign” writer calls it home.
Rohit is an architect by profession, traveler by passion and writer by instinct. He travels his pen at his website at TransIndiaTravels.com. He finds it interesting to see more and more foreign writers in India each year. There must be something about this ancient and curious land that makes writers decide to live here.