The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb- An Analysis by Kristyn A. Stone

Book Review: The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India

Siddhartha Deb writes “The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India  to show the stereotypes people have about India, while also showing how life in India is actually far from the ideals that many people think of.  He is from India, and he therefore has an in-depth knowledge of India’s inside information, so he shows how India is becoming more globalized and modern while still retaining the complex cultural system of caste and status.  Throughout the book, the author encounters different types of people, from the rich to the poor and from the famous to insignificant. Even though some of the people would be considered not important to people who view India from the outside, he shows how they are actually very significant in interpreting the daily lives of Indians all over the country.

In the introduction of the book, he goes through his own life and what he has gone through to get where he is in the present. He is a journalist turned novelist, and met many people and challenges on his way. The introduction is very technical with not much of a storyline like most fiction novels. In many instances, he alludes to the face of India as being happy and prosperous in opposition to the normal lives that most Indian people lead. In some of the first situations he gives, he tries to show the face of the modernizing India. With the up and coming jobs like the telemarketers, he enlightens readers on the importance of job security. The telemarketers go through a lot to obtain and keep their job, but they think that the money is worth it. Many people go without electricity throughout certain times of the day, but they make what they consider ‘good money’ by working these long hours and because it is a new age type of job.

In India, if you are not born into privilege, you are struggling somehow. The Gatsby-like guy that he encounters produces big budget movies that no one hardly watches. He also runs a school that is not recognized by the government. He promises future students many things including a trip to Europe and a new laptop for everyone. Rahul tells Deb that in Arindam Chardhuri’s school, the students pay seven lakhs (hundred thousand), and that the operating cost of schools are low. He goes on to say “…you know how much teachers get paid in India. So, the money gets spun off into other businesses (p. 31).” This shows just how much big-business privileged people take advantage of the other working citizens of India. Teachers, who should be the heart of countries are paid such a little wage. Even though they have to have certain qualifications to be able to teach. It’s far worse than America, even though it can be seen that the 1% hold most of the money, while the other 99% struggle. Whereas the wage gap in America is widening, the economic gap in India is already very wide.

Another economic absurdity is the case he encountered with the migrant workers working in the factory. In America, and many other first-world countries, there are laws in place to help workers. Some of these laws include: maximum working hours, overtime pay, no children workers, and etc. However, the factory that Deb encountered seemed to break every law that most people take for granted. Not only this, but when he was given permission to talk to the workers, the workers did not want to tell him about their situation. Many of the workers were illegal—Muslims coming from Bangladesh or children. These people worked many hours, and some of them lived on fifty cents a day. They were also refused some government assistance. This just shows the wide gap between what is shown in the media about India vs what is the norm in the country.

Even besides economics, Deb also gives insight into a small scene that he encountered. The police were looking for someone, but they were doing it illegally. They were stopped by a man without uniform, holding a pistol (instead of a rifle). Deb’s friend concluded that the target “would probably be gunned down in cold blood, with a report released later to the media to say that the person had been killed in an active encounter and that he had shot first at the police (p. 166).” Even in his title “The Beautiful and the Damned,” he is taking a look at India through stories of the beautiful people (the rich, entrepreneurs, and the powerful), and also through the eyes of the damned (the poor, migrant workers, and people who are not moving up in life no matter how hard they try).

Even in Esther’s case, she studied biochemistry in college, and then went on to get a master’s degree in botany; she wanted to be a doctor.  However, she chose the food industry because it meant that she still thought she had opportunities to come. She kept speaking about if she was home, she would be married with two kids, and that would be it. However, she has to take three different modes of transportation and thirty rupees just to get to a job that makes her work from twelve to two in the morning. It can be seen that her situation is not abnormal. Many people work hard to gain an education because they have dreams, while in reality, only a few people make it to the upper classes of the world. Esther takes care of her sisters and brother. She also talks about how the men in her family (and around her) stay at home while the women work. The men want to find “the right job” rather than just any old job. In contrast, Esther has worked many jobs, and she is not scared to do the dirty work that others refuse to do. There is not just a contrast between classes or cast in India, but there is a wide contrast between the sexes still. Deb mentions “the warmth and hospitality the sisters displayed was characteristic of the north-east, but it was the urban anonymity of Delhi that had allowed them to entertain me, a man from a different ethnic group, in their house (p. 226).”

All in all, Siddhartha’s book enlightens the readers on the real world of India. He characterizes many people and he even mentions that he knows he could never compile the whole of India by only alluding to the lives of five people. He does, however, mention other people and their lives to try and compensate for the loss of substance. India is a huge country, with millions of people. It would be like trying to speak about the whole of America by only representing five of its people. However, he does give a great insight to people who have never traveled there, or for people who have left but forgotten what India was really like for the average person. He makes sure to note many things that India needs to work on. His novel is a loud cry for change in India. He knows that life is not fair or even close to fair, even though the Indian media portrays these happy faces to the outside world. He makes sure to give the reader a sense of what is actually happening inside of the country, and the changes that imminently need to occur  to better the lives of the citizens.

 

 

 

References

Deb, Siddhartha. (2011). The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India.  New York, NY: Faber and Faber, Inc.

 

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Very disappointed…

Go to google, type “murder by Muslim 2016,” and you’ll get thousands of results.

Now, go to google, type “murder by [insert other religion] 2016,” yea..kinda hard to find, right?

These kind of search results make me sick. I would rather not judge the whole on the actions of a few. It’s also saying that the murders all over the world that have occurred in 2016 were either by Muslims or atheist. This is simply not the case. There are bad people in every religion. There are terrible groups in religions that claim to be following the religion. This isn’t speculation, this is fact.

LISTEN TO THE FACTS, PEOPLE!

Stop being sheep and following the media/masses. Research. Don’t believe everything that you read or see on TV and the internet.

Just because someone claims to be Muslim does NOT mean that they follow Islam. I am a Muslim. I have read the Quran. I am an American. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and so on (as far back as we know) are/were American. (I’m not sure where I’m originally from.) I am white. I do NOT want to kill ANYONE for ANY reason–gay, black, white, Christian, Hindu, Mexican, Purple, Yellow, Satan-worshiper, etc. I AM the majority. 

There are 1.6 billion Muslims on the Earth. If Muslims wanted to kill you, you’d know it. There would be no debate on TV about whether Islam is good or bad.

Even if there were 16,000 terrorist attacks each year, which there’s not, that would still be less than .001% of the Muslim population. Are you really going to judge 1.6 billion people on the actions of a few?

 

 

Online Photography!

So, I am adding online photography to my schedule. Of course, I am still meeting for sessions. However, most photographers only give their clients bundle deals. I would like to give people the option to only pay for one photo if they want. Right now, I am only taking cash. I am trying to look for online payment methods (like Paypal) that I can trust. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! 

Portraits can be good for a number of occasions. A present for a parent or spouse, or just to decorate your home. I will edit animals, nature, people, and anything else you may like. $6 per photo, or $10 for two!

Alexis Stone Photography

Teaching Online Classes

أحلا.  I want to start teaching/ tutoring in online classes. There are two classes that I would like to teach/tutor: English grammar/ how to write academic essays in English, and beginner’s Arabic. It would be about $5-$10 for a class on Iteachi.  I will be graduating in May of 2016, so it would be nice to get some practice in and a little pocket money on the side. If you know anyone who would be interested in either of these classes, please let me know. It would be a one on one class, unless they had a friend that wants to take it with them. It would be a buy one-get one 1/2 off deal. 

I love writing essays, and I always help the international students at my school. I really enjoy seeing people improve their language skills. I’ve always liked to write. I especially liked learning HOW to write an essay, and I think that I could make it enjoyable for others, too.

Also, I am in love with the Arab culture and language. Of course, I also love Islam and being able to read the Quran (even though it is far far from perfect). I think that more people need to learn Arabic with everything that is happening in the world. How can you just trust the news for information about a huge group of very diverse people? The Arab language is so beautiful; I want to help people at least learn to read, speak, and write it. Even if a person doesn’t speak it fluently, he could translate and decipher articles about a subject from an Arab point of view.

Any suggestions would be immensely helpful. If you know anyone that may be interested, let me know!

 

Fostering Animals vs. Owning Animals

I’ve been fostering cats since April 2015. I absolutely love it. Helping an animal that has no where else to go makes your heart more full than you can imagine. If you have the ability to do it, do it. The Humane Society provides everything–food, litter, bedding, and vet. appointments. The only thing that you have to provide is your love, and trust me, they need it. I fostered one cat that was very sickly. She had been in the pet store locked up in a cage, and she got depressed. No one wanted her because she was older and sickly. She stopped eating. When I took her in, I had to give her medicine three times every day. Little by little, she started getting better. Eventually, she got a little plump, and she would prance around. You could tell that she was happy. Eventually, we found her a loving home with someone who found out she couldn’t have children. I am so lucky that I found the foster program. It filled me to the brim with joy.

However, ,the last foster kitten I had was different. He was only four weeks old, and he got separated from his mother. He was covered in fleas, and he could have died the night I got him. I started feeding him little by little, and he started to grow big and strong. He was a very rambunctious kitten. I started to train him with the leash, and he would walk outside with me. He went with us to play tennis, and he would chase the balls. Then, I put him in the basket on my bike. He loved to ride around. He was very curious about everything. My other cat loved him, and they would play together. After 3 months of having him, the humane society wanted to adopt him out. I took him back because I had to. I cried for days, and I felt depressed.I know some people will say, “He’s just a cat!” But, he meant so much to me.

Later on, I found a kitten that needed a home. He is half-Siamese, and sleeping on me right now. He is mine! I don’t know if I will foster any more. Or, maybe I will just foster older cats.

Either way, I would encourage anyone to foster! But, make sure that you don’t get too attached. It can be heart-breaking.

Here are  some pictures of the new kitten. *He is only about 6 weeks old* He has the bluest eyes, and luckily, they will stay that way.

Do any of you foster? Has it been tough? Also, PLEASE help me think of a name for him.

IMG_4655E IMG_4663E

Working

I don’t understand why people have to work so hard to make such a small amount of money. I am honestly sick of working. I know the world can’t be full of rainbows and soft pillows, but I know that I would make more money AND love going to work if I actually enjoyed what I do. I wish everyone could enjoy making a living. Maybe, when I finish college, I’ll finally enjoy what I do. I’ll be teaching international students English, first in America, then maybe in Bahrain. I’m just dying of boredom until then. I LOTHE working. Oh well. What do you do? Do you actually enjoy your job? Or, how do you make your job enjoyable?? Please let me know!!

 

YouTube

I think I may start a YouTube channel. What do you guys think? Also, what should I talk about or do?

 

Debate Review: “What Was The True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples?” – Br. Ijaz Ahmad vs Rev. Steven Martins

I’m so happy that I’ve found this post. I converted to Islam last year, and this will help me explain some things to my *very unhappy* parents. Thank you.

Discover The Truth

I review a debate entitled “What Was The True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples?”

The debaters

Br. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians

Rev. Steven Martins of Nicene International Ministries Canada.

I did the bulk of the review a while ago but never managed to finish it in the detail I would have liked but never got back to it through procrastination and other priorities I’ve quickly tidied up what I had and rolled it out.

“None of the Apostles could have written or sanctioned these stories about themselves” – Ijaz Ahmad

Were the Gospel Accounts eye-witness reports

Steven Martins’ approach was to draw upon the New Testament in his attempt to present what he believes the disciples believed. Steven believes the Gospels are the historical eye-witness records of  the disciples. This was rejected outright by Ijaz Ahmad who pointed out the 4 Gospels were not contemporary to Jesus p and nor…

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Upset about Palestine. 

I get to upset everytime I think about the Palestinian conflict. I mean, who is the UN to just give a piece of land away to a group when there are people living there? It’s like someone coming to your home and saying. “Sorry you have to leave. This was promised to me, and if you don’t comply, I’ll just force you to leave or kill you.” I watched a video of this Jewish boy standing with the Palestinians and speaking up. The Jewish police beat him and drug him to the poilice van, just for speaking his opinion at a rally. I just wish there was more that I could do. The whole situation just isn’t fair. I don’t understand how the world is letting this happen. I just don’t understand how that is HUMANLY possible.

What if Islamophobia were directed at Jews?

Many people do not read the actual texts of religion, but go by what others say. It’s the easy way. However, if you look at Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holy text, there are MUCH more similarities than differences, even when the topic is killing, adultery, and blasphemy.

yussifeffendi

Islam is being targeted by many "thinkers" as a religion of violence. Islam is being targeted by many “thinkers” as a religion of violence.

Islam fear-mongering and Islamophobia have become so desensitized in American society and media that almost anyone who is called out for his or her crazed attack on an entire religion is able to hide behind the idea that it is free speech, or the “truth” that “must be said.” It is sad that actor Ben Affleck has become a symbol in this battle against this anger and hate after he spoke out against Bill Maher and Sam Harris after they spouted generalizations and Islamophobic sentiments on Real Time with Bill Maher last year.

It is time we look at how the world deals with Islam and Muslims, in America and elsewhere. Too often there is a concerted effort to attack anyone who says anything bordering on being anti-Jewish or anti-Israel. To speak out against the oppression and…

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