Lunch With a Bigot: The Writer in the World
Amitava Kumar is Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. He is the author of A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb, and Nobody Does the Right Thing, all also published by Duke University Press.
In this chapter, the author describes his meeting with a man who had put him on a hit-list. This man, Mr. Barotia, was a member of an ultra-right-wing Hindu group, and offended that the author had married a Muslim. Mr. Barotia was proud of the killings of Muslims in Gujarat. The author disliked Mr. Barotia and his views but also saw a part of himself, and his own provincial past, in Mr. Barotia’s prejudices.
In the plane from London to Delhi, a boxer who had represented India at the just-concluded 2012 Olympic Games was returning home. He sat next to the author and made small talk with a young German woman sitting in the same row. In this brief chapter, the author recounts the overheard conversation, an introduction to a particular brand of masculinity.