Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why I cannot read crime fiction set in India...

I am a great fan of crime fiction. Some of my favourite authors include James Hadley Chase, Alistair Maclean, Lawrence Sanders, Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christi ( the Poirot series), Peter Mc Donnell (Modesty Blaise comics and novels), Martin Cruz Smith, C.J.Sansom, Stuart Kaminsky, Henning Mankell, Dick Francis(Francis wrote only crimes related to horse racing in Britain) ,Oliver Strange and Fredrick H Christian(Christian & Strange wrote westerns).

As a child, I enjoyed reading the children’s adventure books (sort of crime fiction you can say!) from England and USA . From UK, I read the popular Enid Blyton series such as The five find-outers and the dog, the famous five, secret seven, the adventurous four, the series where all the adventures start with R (e.g. the Rub-a-dub mystery, the Ragamuffin mystery, etc). The three series from USA I read were the Nancy Drew series, Hardy Boys series and the Alfred Hitchcock series called The three investigators. Maybe I would have read a lot more if they were available in India. I discovered that several other series existed only after I moved to Canada and saw several adventure series in the book stores!

For reasons I myself do not fully understand, I can’t bring myself to read crime fiction set in India. I am trying to explore my mind and find out why. I am an Indian and lived in India almost all my life and know India pretty well. I know about real crime in India as much as a middle class, urban lady leading a relatively safe and protected life would know.

India produces literature in many languages and in English; I read only English.(It is not that I am too snobbish to read Indian languages. I am very slow while reading Kannada novels and it is so painful to read at the speed of 10 minutes per page.... So I have given up reading in Kannada, the only Indian language I can read) As far as I know, there are more social novels ( I like to call them social novels as they are about social life in India) than crime fiction. There are many romantic novels, books about Indian society, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. I know that a lot of new writers in India are writing crime fiction these days and writing in English too but I have not read any of them. I have read less than 10 books which have crime fiction stories set in India.

They include: Bahadur comics (read them as a kid in the 70s and 80s). I remember enjoying them but not as much as Phantom comics(by Lee Falk) I read at the same time. I thought that the Bahadur comics were sort of copied from the ‘foreign’ comics. Bahadur’s girl friend whose name I don’t remember definitely did not have Indian features. Either the person who drew her sketches did not get the bone structure right or the girl friend of Bahadur was supposed to be a ‘foreign’ lady, I am not sure.

The Inspector Ghote series by H.R.F. Keating. These are written by a foreigner but set in India. I find the language too stilted and not much fun to read.

I remember reading the Shuja and Daboo comics in the Kannada weekly magazine called Sudha. The comics were in Kannada and though I hated reading in Kannada, I did read them. I remember enjoying them a lot. Shuja seems to be a copy of Tarzan comics to me. I recall that Shuja's lady friend's features were not Indian nor was her clothing. I enjoyed the Daboo comics a lot which was like crime with science fiction. I cannot remember the authors of these comics and would like to know their names if any of you who read this blog know. If anyone out there has made cuttings of these strips from the Sudha magazines, I would be happy to buy it from them.

I also enjoyed Tarquin Hall’s The case of the missing servant about 2 years ago and now I am reading the Case of the man who died laughing. It is about a private investigator Vishu Puri. Hall’s writing is good and humorous but he did not have me on the edge of my seat like Chase or Peter O’Donnell. These are two books of crime fiction set in India and written by a non-Indian author who seems to have settled in India.

I have tried to read Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games recently but am having difficulty getting through it. It is well written and interesting but the size seems to be keeping me from reading it. Spoiler alert : The stuff in red below gives away a story.

I am adding to this article the stuff in italics long after the original article was written.. I read 2 crime novels set in India i.e. ''Six suspects by Vikas Swarup and Aravind Adiga's 'Last man in tower'. These two books accurately reflect crime in India. Aravind Adiga's novel is both extremely real and stunning! Stunning because one sees how ordinary middle class 'respectable' people are capable of crime as henious as murder. They not only commit but get away with it! When I read, Last man in the tower, I was so depressed...I always was proud of the fact that the middleclass people, 'will somehow or the other' manage to hang on to their morals as they are not as desperate as the starving poor; but reading this book, one realizes that even the middle-class will commit henious crimes.

Aravind Adiga's 'The white tiger' too depicts with realism, the crimes in Bangalore and India.

No heroes whom I like in these three books mentioned above! I think why I dislike or disbelieve crime fiction from India boils down to two reasons: Morality is disappearing in India and it’s impossible to believe that there are people who are both moral & crime-fighters; the second reason is that survival is becoming impossible without compromising morality or ethics to some extent. Ergo, if someone writes typical crime fiction with the good guy winning, it seems unbelievable and so you don’t like the story.

I have read and enjoyed the comics and books of crime fiction written by Sathyajit Ray. Though they are not my favorite, I think the comics (Feluda series) are the best Indian crime fiction I have read. Both the drawings and the plot were good. I discovered Sathyajit Ray’s crime fiction only recently on the internet in Canada; I bought the books in a recent visit to Bangalore at Crosswords.

I am adding to this article the stuff in italics long after the original article was written: I read a book called Delhi Noir i.e. short stories about crime in Delhi. It was an exciting book to read and realistic. However, I did not get the satisfaction I crave for i.e. the satisfaction one feels when the villain is punished and the good person is saved. In this book, the criminals more often than not, got away with their crimes! And I think, this is the most important reason, why I do not enjoy crime fiction from India. The reality is that the bad guy wins in India, 99% of the time . So I cannot enjoy crime fiction if it is realistic ; and I also cannot suspend my disbelief when the good guy wins!

In India, crimes of all sorts are rampant and crimes often go unchecked and unpunished; People have become blase about crime.

And 99% of the police are corrupt and so any book with a honest heroic police officer is BS and I unbelievable;

Apart from the books mentioned above, I cannot recall reading, crime fiction written by Indians or set in India. I remember reading a monthly English magazine about crime in India called 'Crime & Detective ‘with the most lurid photos on the cover with 'true' crime stories. This magazine’s atrocious language & grammar; the lurid photos and atrocious crimes were repugnant but also drew me! The writers also had their own unique' moral of the story', definitions of crime, their own unique perspective about laws and ethics! I gave up reading after a while as I found the crimes too disturbing and the language in this mag was terrible.

If you go to these weblinks given below, you will see others views about this magazine. But the best thing one can do is buy this magazine and read it to know first hand, how terrible it is!

This last link has a photo/comic strip about a crime and the literal translations from Hindi to English are hilarious. You can also see the weird stereotypes the writer has of men & women and city & rural people!

During my next visit to India, I am planning to buy these magazines...the sheer absurdity of the language and views of the writers, the stories, the over-the-top photos, the literal translations of Hindi idioms and phrases will help me pass time during the grey winter months in Canada! (PS: I visited India in 2015 and could not find the 'detective and crime magazines sold in bus stands and railway stations and bookshops in Bangalore...I don't know why; years ago, I saw these mags with lurid photos of crime scenes everywhere but NOT  single one, this time! Has the government banned them?)

I am going off topic but another entertainment from India would be reading the sex magazines available in shops at railway and bus stations in India. These are written and published by people who have no scientific knowledge about sex; these mags are full of misinformation and are hilarious to read. It is sad though, that many men and boys read these and get their information from these gold-mines of mis-information.(women and girls don’t dare buy these books in public). Reading the bill-boards of travelling hakims who sell potency drugs and other drugs to unsuspecting villagers is another form of entertainment in India. Of course, it is sad, but I cannot help laughing.(Now that I own a camera, I am planning to photograph their ads and put them up here !) I visited India in 2015 and did not see these magazines this time anywhere

I have been told of a terrible television show in Hindi about crime called CID; It is supposed to be unsuitable for viewing due to the violent content, but yet seems to attract a wide audience. I think there is something about crime that attracts people! My friend’s teenage son watches this serial and she finds it disturbing to watch her son watching this show. But how can I console her? My aged dad enjoys watching this and when I ask him he defends saying that he can learn about the ways of criminals and be forewarned!

I spend hours browsing on the internet and reading websites ( such as to find good crime fiction .

My latest goal is to read exciting crime fiction set in different countries. I like to think that the best way to understand people of another country or society is to read crime fiction set in that place. To this end, I set about finding the best crime fiction of different countries. I discovered and had a fantastic time reading crime fiction given below:

set in Russia (The Arkady Renko series by Martin Cruz Smith and the Inspector Rostnikov series by Stuart Kaminsky and 2 books by Tom Rob Smith). I am eagerly waiting for the third book in the sereies by tom Rob Smith. While I loved all the books, I must admit that the 2 books by Tom Rob Smith were difficult to put down.

set in Slovekia: The Jana Matinova series by Michael Genelin.

set in South Africa: The Jade De Jong series by Jassy Mackenzie

set in Sweden (Inspector Wallander series by Henning Mankell and the Steing Larrson's the Millenium series). The Wallander series has come to an end and I am waiting to get my hands on the last book i.e. The troubled man.

set in Saudi Arabia

(two book i.e. Finding Nouf and City of veils by Zoe Farraris). I liked both books and was especially appalled by the life of women in Saudi Arabia. I thank God that I was not born in that wretched country.( I apologize sincerely to the moderate Saudies and all women & children of Saudi for calling their country wretched)Her third book which is also good is "Kingdom of strangers'. Three other Gulf-country based books I read (after posting this article) which I enjoyed are : Layover in Dubai by Dan Fesperman, Strangers by Carla Banks and Last Light by Alex Scarrow. A part of last light is in a Gulf country while rest of the book is set in UK.

set in the Palestine-Isreal region: The collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt beynon Rees (did not enjoy this much actually)

There was a time I wanted to read crime from different ages and then I discovered the C.J.Sansom series about the lawyer Shardake set in ancient Britain. I loved this set of books. I however did not enjoy the other authors who have written about crime in medieval ages set in Britain & Egypt & Spain. I did enjoy reading about the Templers by a couple of authors.

The crime fiction which I adore and are simply too many to list here are by American authors or are all set in USA or England.

Below are those which I did not enjoy as much…I am sure the writers and the plots are good but they were not my cup of tea.....I am not critizing the authors or the books here....dear reader remember I have some sort of ADHD and cannot enjoy a book unless it pumps my adrenalin!

set in Pakistan

(one book only i.e. A case of exploding mangoes by Mohammed Hanif). This was okay...funny in parts.

set in China(modern China) is "Eye of the Jade" by a lady i.e. Diance Wei Liang. This is a good book in that one can see the behaviour and psychology of modern day China.

set in Turkey

i.e. the Barbara Nadel series but I gave up on these as I simply could not finish the books.

Set in Netherlands

(De Cok series by A.C. Baantjer) but found the language too stilted and did not finish.

I have begun and not finished many crime books. I have skimmed through a few and not read the books in their entirity. But this may not only be because the books failed to hold my interest. It may also be that I am suffering from a sub-clinical level of attention deficits!tan

Set in Iceland: Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason

I must add here I had the impression that some of these great writers may have suffered from depression. I may be wrong but I cannot shake off this feeling.

I am now trying to analyze why the hell I can’t bear the thought of reading crime fiction set in India and these are the reasons I come up with. Maybe the true reasons are buried in my unconscious and some psychologically gifted reader may have to dredge it out of the unconscious for me!

· Being Indian, I know the full extent of crime and corruption in India. In most crime fiction, there is justice at the end and even if it is poetic justice, I find it believable and therefore I feel satisfied when I read.

Knowing that 99% of the Police in India are corrupt, that the Justice system is excruciatingly slow and rotten to some extent, I am skeptical when I think of crime (even if it is fiction) set in India. The concept of a realistic but rosy ending to an Indian crime story where the villain is found and punished seems impossible even in fiction. Let me explain why.

I love fiction but it has to appear plausible or probable to me; and to even conceptualize about crimes being solved or the criminals getting their just desserts seems unreal in India....It is not that the crimes are so complex or the criminals are so terribly intelligent that it is impossible to solve crimes. The reasons the crimes are not solved and justice not got in India is because of corruption in the Police and the lack of interest of the police to solve crimes or book criminals.

To some extent, the lack of training, the low calibre of people who make up the police force, the poor pay scales of the policemen, the need to pay a huge bribe to get employed in the police force are all factors contributing to poor caliber  policemen . Various social & psychological factors in India such as inequality, casteism, people's fear of getting involved in anything, etc are other factors contributing to crime against people in India. Various offences are not even recognized to be criminal by the perpetrators, the victims, the general public or the people. For example, giving and taking bribes is so common that no one blinks an eye when it happens. People have become so accustomed to so many types of offences, that they just take it in their stride and do not object, let along complain to the police.

I have come across so many types of abuse in India where no one tries to stop it, protest, help the victim. So many women are molested in public, for example on buses, trains or streets but the people just watch or look away or some even enjoy watching the abuse! Rarely does someone try to stop it, protest or help the victim. In a country, where so many crimes and offences happen and people are indifferent, it is impossible for me to even imagine a heroic figure, fighting crime!

.Reading about the crimes happening in India, daily, on the internet, I feel depressed, helpless and frustrated. The crimes against women, against children, against the Dalits in various parts of India wears me down. I hurriedly avoid items such as’ tiger killed in reserve’ or ‘elephant electrocuted’ as I find these items even more disturbing (e.g. killing of wild animals by poachers or villagers who are angered by wild animals which destroy their crops). The wide range and humungous quantity of crimes is so appalling. To think of a crime fighter against these overwhelming odds, seems impossible, implausible, improbable...take your pick!

I do know that in most cases in India, there is no justice for the victims especially if they belong to the poorer classes. In India, the victims are often further victimized by the police. The criminals commit crime with impunity; the police look away or are hand-in-glove with the criminals. It is 'stretching credibility' to even think of criminals getting punished and victims getting justice. So I cannot enjoy Indian crime fiction knowing fully well that there is no justice except between the covers of fiction books. It is simply impossible for me to suspend disbelief, even for the duration of reading the Indian crime fiction book.

One frequently heard set of true stories in India is about some poor soul dragged to the police station and accused of a crime and punished while the real criminal is out there! This is done for various reasons such as the police need to show they have solved a crime or they want to punish a person for some reason. So I am always skeptical when I hear of a crime being solved or a criminal being caught. Often, people belonging to certain communities or religions or castes are victimized in this way by the police. Knowing this, how can I enjoy Indian crime fiction? I know for a fact that women especially Muslim women, Hindu women of lower castes, and the poor and all people of lower castes would never ever go to a police station to complain....especially in rural areas where the police force is much worse. The police treat them worse than the criminals against whom they want to complain. To me, at least 50% of the Indian police are criminals in uniform, with greater power than the criminals.

· Once while talking to the wife of a 'rich' police officer, I commented on corruption in the police. She said, when others are making money, what is wrong if her husband makes money? Interacting with the wives and children of these 'well-to-do' police officers, I realized that the wives and children never question or confront the corrupt police man. They are silent. They enjoy the benefits of his corruption i.e. a lavish lifestyle, getting into good universities with his money or influence, getting into elite clubs, etc. The double standards in their families are interesting... The children of the family are not supposed to lie to their parents, steal, bunk classes etc. However, the corrupt police officer that is the adult family member, does all the things the children are not supposed to do … work, he takes bribes, is brutal, is unfair, intimidates, breaks rules, etc.

· Just looking at the affluence of the police officers which are in contrast to the actual salaries they earn, I perceive them as criminals than as crime fighters.

· The few times I have confronted corrupt people about their corruption, they smoothly explain, how they are actually doing a service, how they are less corrupt when compared to others, how much they have helped people (helping their relatives and friends using their contacts), how everyone is corrupt and how insane he would look if he behaved differently!

· One remarkable thing in India.... The honest people appear embarrassed and awkward in parties and ge-togethers as if they are the freaks while the corrupt are able to socialize smoothly! The honest cannot afford to give expensive presents  at parties and have not helped relatives and friends using their the sense of self-consciousness & discomfort at parties. On the other hand, the corrupt in India who are utterly shameless,are cheerful, gregarious and boisterous in parties!

· When 99% are corrupt, the 1% who are honest, are the exceptions i.e." abnormal". If the criteria for normality is "Normal behaviour is the behaviour shown by majority of people", then, in India, the few who are honest are the freaks or mad or abnormal!

· The Indian personality types I have come across are not like the crime fiction personalities I know and admire. I admire the heroes of the western crime fiction books I read.... I do know that these fictious personalities are so interesting because they are fictious and not real. Yet, at the time I am reading the book, they feel so real; I can suspend my 'disbelief ' and cry when they are hurt and feel happy when they are happy!

· I think the childhood life and upbringing and life styles of most Indians makes them develop personalities, not cut out to be the dashing heroes of crime fiction. To me, all Indians are so deeply trained to obey elders, respect their parents, that as adults, they end up being obedient rather than dashing, heroic and adventurous! Also the value system in India, the strong family ties, the presence of extended families, makes me think of an Indian as a domesticated person with an entangled family life than a hero fighting crime to save the world! Can there ever be an Indian "Lone Ranger"? Of course not! Every Indian has at least 3 dozen relatives.....except maybe orphans in orphanages.

· I can easily visualize an Indian detective who is struggling to cope with the bickering between his wife and mother, struggling to get a job, get a house and a car, get his kids educated and get his daughters married ; But I simply cannot visualize an Indian hero who will follow criminals, catch them red-handed and fight them using his muscles.

· Physically too I can only conjure up a puny, short Indian or a pot-bellied one than a James Bond type with muscles and brains!I find the characters in the western fiction extremely attractive . The fact that many are single or have a girl friend or boy friend or are having affairs with beautiful exciting people makes the reading exciting. Rarely is a crime fiction hero/heroine in American or European books married. An Indian private detective or police officer, who is single or having a girl friend or boy friend or an affair is implausible/impossible! And if like most real-life Indians, they are respectably married then they do not seem exciting !

· It is impossible for me to conjure up a realistic, exciting heroic Indian character solving crimes. The nearest I can think of an exciting heroic person is possibly Amitabh Bachan in an old movie called Zanjeer....That is not even a book but a movie.

· I do not see traits of gallantry in Indian men.... I have seen simply too many Indian men elbowing women to get seats in buses; seen men striding ahead empty-handed while their wives walk behind them carrying heavy grocery bags and maybe a kid too; So if I even read of a fictional Indian hero who is gallant, I will not believe!

· Lots of (Indian)people I know are superstitious and fear a whole range of people and things and it is impossible to imagine them as heroic. In my mind, an Indian crime fighter will probably go back home and have a cleansing bath if a black cat crosses his path when he is chasing a fleeing robber!

· In India, I have seen a majority of the people intimidated by those in power(in India, even a government office clerk has 'power' i.e. power to make your life miserable by not doing his i.e. your paperwork and slowing your file). I have seen simply too many people being polite and submissive to corrupt people in the government offices to get their work done; I have seen too many people tolerate injustice as fighting it will cause them more problems;How can anyone expect heroic crime fighting traits in this environment? People may curse these guys but will give in anyway. When my uncle refused to give a bribe to an inspector, he did not get permission to do the electrical work in his building for months! Can you imagine the impact of this delay on the construction work, the costs, and a hundred different things? Even highly educated professionals such as professors, doctors, engineers, give bribes to get their work one has the guts to protest corruption. So, how can one develop the guts to fight crime in this culture???

· Living in this Indian society, will simply crush several fighting qualities in people. And growing up in this society since childhood, the crushing is systematic and complete, especially if one is born in the less fortunate sections of society such as the lower castes, rural areas, being born as female or being born 'in some way different' than most, in some really backward and feudal areas such as Madhya Pradesh, Upper Pradesh, Jharkand, Bihar, etc. In the worst states of India, children who are brave, grow up to be criminals rather than upright moral adults as the culture they grow up in enables growth of criminal mentality than an honest one...I know the patriotic Indians who read this will be furious but let them go and look at what is happening in these wretched states

· I think any heroic traits Indians are born with will be fully crushed before we reach the age of 30 in Indian society. There is a pervasive apathy, a pervasive lack of trust and respect for the system, a chronic cynicism, near-constant wariness (and so many other ' survival behaviours' than' healthy behaviours') in most people all the time. The only ones who are fearless are those in positions of power. But I have seen even these aggressive assertive powerful people, grovel when they need something! For example I know of a powerful, politically connected doctor, grovel before an extremely rude school principal to get his kid into a 'good school'; he was boiling with rage within at the principal's rudeness but did not protest...he did not want to jeopardise his son's chances of getting into this school ! I have seen powerful ministers grovel before the high command of their political party or even before the so called "Gurus" or "Swamis" like Sai Baba.

· After seeing this over and over again in India, my brain absolutely refuses to accept the concept of a heroic detective or policeman fighting crime in India ! Growing in Indian society, all the good traits seem to be crushed out along the way.

The fictional characters who seem capable of fighting crime in India to me are probably the Rusian policeman Rostinikov created by Stuart M. Kaminsky and Arkady Renko, another Russian character created by Martin Cruz Smith. Maybe I find them right for India as Russia is depicted as pretty corrupt in these books and these 2 fictional characters seem to be succeeding in that corrupt country.

The personality traits I have observed in most of my fellow countrymen are the antithesis of what a crime fiction detective or hero would have. Also the value system in India where the wrong traits and behaviours are glorified, valued and accepted and the really good traits are neither recognized nor respected makes it difficult for me to accept an Indian crime fiction hero. For example a person who stands up against corruption and therefore faces a lot of hurdles is considered as 'crazy' while a person who is street smart and greases palms to get things done is considered as smart. With this kind of a value system, what kind of a heroic crime fighter can India produce?

· One more thing I have noticed is that choice of a career in fighting crime is not the choice of majority of youth. Youth are pursuing other choices which seem to offer money without risks. Till now I know of just one kid who wanted to join the army and believe it or not, his family thought he was crazy to want this and dragged him in for counselling! Of course, I have seen many youth from army backgrounds (fathers in the armed forces) wanting to join the military or other such adventurous careers but these are few. Most youth today seem to be in pursuit of things other than least what I consider as adventurous.

I think Indian literature, other than crime fiction are wonderful to read. I have greatly enjoyed Indian tales depicting pathos, unrequitted love, sacrifices and tragedies caused by fate. I have loved the gentle humor of R.K.Laxman's cartoons and the delightful cartoons of Mario Miranda. I have enjoyed the fantastic short stories by countless Indian authors which appeared in the now extinct magazine i.e. The Illustrated Weekly of India and another (sort-of-porn) magazine of the 80s called Debonair. I am so sorry that though I loved these stories I cannot remember the name of even one of these short story writers! I have also  enjoyed the wonderful love stories set in India which are equal to or better than Romeo and Juliet. Heer Ranja, Prithviraj Chauhan and Sanyogta, Radha & Krishna, Shakuntala & Dushyanta, Salim & Anarkali,Shahjahan and Mumtaz, are unforgettable love stories. I love reading the epic mythological stories of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The characters in Mahabharatha are fantastic with all their virtues and frailties! I loved the Amar Chitra Katha comics about various Indian kings, mythological figures, freedom fighters, etc. I loved the illustrations too especially the covers!  I have enjoyed reading the realistic and wonderful novels of R.K.Narayan. I loved the short stories and dramas of Tagore and moved to tears when I read them.

But Indians as crime fiction heroes is something impossible for my mind to accept....I do not see the Indian personality as an ideal crime fighting figure. These sort of questions come to my mind when I think of an Indian crime fighting hero…..How can you be a tough guy when you are also  obeying daily your parents commands? How can you fight crime when you yourself are forced to give bribes in government offices to get simple things done; What will you do with the drug dealer you nabbed? When he has the entire police station in his pocket…. What will you do when you finally discover the guy stealing vehicles…if he turns out to be the son of a politician? How will you fight crime when half the crimes are committed by goons of politicians and you are intimidated into letting them go free?What is the point in a courageous & honest policeman putting a politician's hired goonda  in jail when the goonda receives VIP treatment in jail after intimidating the  sycophantic jail staff...the jailed goonda gets cellphones, television, alcohol and chicken biryani, and possibly prostitutes too... INSIDE THE JAIL!!!

A hilarious thought…..In Tarquin Hall’s Indian crime fiction book, he mentions that several cases coming for private investigation were of families checking into a prospective bridegroom’s background…does he smoke or drink? Did he have a girl-friend in the past? Has he really studied engineering or did he lie when he came to see the girl? When I read this bit in Hall’s book, I realized that the life of a private investigator in India will be less than adventurous! He also mentions a case where the house owner hired the private detective  to find out  if his tenant was a pure vegetarian as he claimed or did he cook non-veg in the house!

I am now going to actively look out for crime fiction set in India and try to discover some good books and get back to this article. I would love to discover some Indian crime fighter out there either real or fictional, whom I find believable and fall in love with.

If any of you know of any good crime fiction set in India, let me know. I want to try reading. I know that in the last few years, the number of English novels written and published in India has increased tremendously. But I am not sure how much of it is crime fiction and how many of them are really good.

After writing the above, I thought a lot and find that three authors whom I admire have written crime fiction books which I really enjoyed. They are set in countries which are known for problems similar to India's and societies as (dare I say) pathological as India's. These are books set in Russia's Moscow i.e. by Stuart Kaminsky and Martin Cruz Smith and books by Zoe Ferraris set in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh. Thinking about these books, the crime fighters in these books, I can now believe it is possible for India to have a crime fighter who is plausible. We already have Vishu Puri, private investigator in Delhi, a delightful character created by Tarquin Hall. Who knows? Maybe, more such crime fighting characters, both plausible and probable may be created in future, to delight Indian and other readers.

Reading over what I have written again, I recall, that I have come across many people in India, who are honest, brave, kind, generous, gentle and non-corruptible, in the face of heavy odds. These are people, whose 'progress' in life has been painfully slow due to their values. They have not budged from their chosen paths in spite of their families pushing them to take the easy path. Recalling these people, I now think that it is possible for my dream Indian crime fighter(.... like the western characters whom I like) to exist!

I also want the readers to think about the fact that to be 'good' in a society like current day Indian society is infinitely harder than being good in a society like Canada's. In India, the overwhelming corruption one sees daily in all corners of society, the daily hassles, the daily struggle, the lack of so many basic facilities, the fight amongst many for a few resources, the poverty, etc rapidly erodes the good decent qualities in majority of the people.

Which brings to my mind, an Indian saying which says that the beautiful and sacred lotus can only grow in filth, and it cannot grow in clean waters. Similarly, maybe, some people who are growing in a society such as India's, which is full of dirt and obstacles, may end up with strength & the lotus. The dirt and difficulties may be instrumental in making at least some people better and stronger.

Many real and fictional crime fighters (and other 'good' people too) were born and brought up in dirty and difficult situations and this only made them stronger rather than crush them or corrupt them. So maybe, the Indian society may have the same effect and some lotus may sprout here too!

And talking of a crime fighter who rose above difficult situations, there is one I recall i.e. Modesty Blaise.I would take my hat off to the person who creates a real or fictional Indian Modesty Blaise! That would be, as my little sister puts it, "awesome"!


I am adding this long after this article was published. Many old comic strips both funny ones and action-adventure ones which appeared in newspapers are now being published in book form (with good quality paper I might add!). Some of my favs coming out now as books include:

Modesty Blaise (Titan publications. You can check all these on

Phantom by Lee Falk (Hermes press)

The wizard of Id(Titan books)

Beetle Bailey(Titan books)

Andy Capp (Titan and other publishers too)

Other comics I read in the past are also being reprinted in long-lasting hardbound books such as Hager the horrible.

While Modesty Blaise are soft-bound, the rest are all hard-bound and will last!

I would be so happy if the Indian action-adventure comics I read in the Sudha magazine in the ?70s or 80s are reprinted in book form. These comics include Shuja & Daboo. I wonder if these comics are even remembered by anyone or if anyone has saved these strips.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Changes in Bangalore

The changes I saw in Bangalore

Visiting Bangalore in March of 2010 after nearly 3 years, I saw several noticeable changes.
The city seemed hotter than before. I always wore sweaters till spring years ago when in Bangalore but now in spring of 2010 I needed a fan instead of sweaters!
The time one needed to get from one place to another be it by bus, auto, car or two-wheeler had doubled compared to years ago. I remember it took about 45 minutes to get from Yelahanka to City Market in 1997-98 but now it took nearly two hours for the same ride! Plus it was so full of discomfort with drivers honking, the exhaust fumes in our faces, the long wait at the railway crossing, the swelling in number of all vehicles and people.
There is a huge increase in the number of people, vehicles on the road and consequently there is a huge increase in noise and air pollution in Bangalore. Coming from a relatively quiet place, it initially seems too much to take but I did get used to it in a few days.
Another terrible change I see is the inflation. The prices of all goods and services now are unbelievably high! I feel deeply saddened thinking of my retired relatives and friends, who were once in government service as officers, engineers, professors, etc who are living on pensions which are inadequate for maintaining their previous life styles….they did not even have luxurious life-styles in the past! One of the most depressing things I saw was an aged aunt of mine (in her late 70s), who had worked as a school teacher, working now with nursery kids, to make ends meet. When she told me the cost of onions and tur dhal and asked me how she was expected to pay one hundred rupees for a kilo of tur dhal, I was miserable and speechless. Inflation has devastated many families. The true and complete effects of inflation in damaging families cannot be measured. People usually place the blame at the right door i.e. the government as responsible for the inflation. Yet, they also take out their frustrations on their family members and others who are as much a victim as they are. The person in the family who is in a poorly paying job is blamed or ridiculed, the vendor who sells vegetables or whatever at high rates is yelled at, the servants are yelled at for asking too much salary. The list of people taking out their frustrations on other victims goes on.
I remember that when I was a kid, all of my relatives in the city were at the same level, economically speaking. (those in villages cannot be compared, economically to the ones in the city) Now the economic range of the families and new families (i.e. cousins who now have families of their own) has widened enormously. While many are doing well, especially those who went into the science stream (engineering, medicine and dental), those of us who opted for arts stream and other stream are struggling to just maintain a middle class life style. Siblings and cousins who were at teh same economic level as children are now so wide apart economically, that  it's not funny. (Though the economic differences do not affect the affection we have for each other, we definitly notice it!) It’s not just inflation tearing apart families but other issues such as lack of job opportunities for those with college degrees in science, arts and commerence, lack of job opportunities for those from rural schools and colleges, for those with lesser education. The reservation policy prevents many of us from jobs in government service and in the 80s there were limited jobs in the private sector compared to what Bangalore has today. Apart from reservation, the inability/refusal to pay bribes and the absence of ‘influence’ were two other factors which prevented a few of my friends and cousins from getting decent jobs.
Another hugely sad feature of current day Bangalore is the increase in prostitution and its blatant and obvious presence. Walking in Majestic or Market area, one had to be alert and ‘look out’ for these women. But when I visited in 2010, I found them in large numbers, in broad day light, standing in the middle of the walkway in the city bus-station.
I also saw many many of them on M.G.Road near the metro construction between Kavery and Shankar Nag theatre. I was surprised at their number. When I asked a Bangalorean, I was told that, after the US recession in 2008, many garment factories in Bangalore stopped getting orders from their USA buyers and they had shut down. The women working in these factories were suddenly jobless and many were from villages, with lesser education and no other skills than sewing. These women had been forced to take up this profession in order to survive. To think that some American idiots greed & stupidity brought about recession in USA and the US recession is drastically affecting thousands of young women in Karnataka was depressing. What really burns me up is that most people blame these women for taking up prostitution, treat them like dirt, exploit them, but hardly anyone analyzes why some women take up this degrading profession or try to help them.
One sad consequence of these ills in Bangalore is the decreasing empathy in people. Maybe I am imagining it or maybe it is true of only some people, but there seems to be a definite lack of empathy, sympathy in people. The son who is unemployed, the child who chose to not take the main-stream (in my circle main-stream means computer science, engineering and a few other professional courses like medicine and dental; and every thing else is frowned upon by most parents. Will you believe it, even a nursing degree or a degree in education is looked down upon by the middle-class in Bangalore ! That’s the kind of respect for teaching/teachers or nursing/nurses, middle class snobs have ! )
but to come back to my point about people lacking empathy, when one goes against the main-stream i.e. do something different like study arts, wants to do voluntary work or work in a low paid job but which one is passionate about, the person faces consequences. The family keeps criticizing the person and beg him or her to move to main-stream. The threats sound like this: "No one will marry you. Who wants to marry a school teacher? Why cant you study engineering/ How can you support your wife on your salary? What job will you get with a B.A? Who will offer you a job with your B.Com degree? " The worst one I have heard is this: "You are already dark-skinned. And now you say you do not want tostudy science and you want to study comers? Who will marry you? If you at least take science and study engineering, we can maybe find you some groom."
This lack of empathy and support is seen in many families. I suppose it is a bit better now within the family than it was about 20 years ago. I seem to see a lot of parents quite concerned about their kids and a definite reduction in the kind of pressure they put on their kids. But we still have a long way to go.
But there is a definite decrease in empathy for people outside the family. People seem to be engrossed about their family and it’s problems and seem to think little about the fate of other people. There is a kind of harshness in interactions between people and a definite erosion of trust. Every interaction seems to be a near-confrontation. Interactions with bus-conductors, auto drivers, vegetable-sellers, the people at counters when one goes to pay bills, etc. The hostility to strangers is seen maximum while driving on roads or walking as pedestrians! I sometimes thought that smiling and pleasantness has disappeared so much in Bangalore that when someone smiles at me, I immediately become suspicious and wonder if the smiler is out to con me !
Another major change I saw was that everyone seemed to be carrying a cell phone! I really liked that especially when I saw the vegetables vendors on the roads using mobiles!
This indicates, to me at least, greater communication and accessibility even for people with low incomes which is really good.
I was definitely sad to see the disappearing bungalows of Gandhi Bazaar to be replaced by multi storied buildings. I wonder why builders build these multi-storey buildings and do not make arrangements for water supply to the flats in these buildings. I have heard of horror stories of people who bought these flats in areas like Yelahanka and later discovered that there was poor water supply.
There has been an increasingly poor supply of water and electricity in Bangalore even since I was a kid. But the situation seem to be getting out of control now. While the middle and upper class buy wanter from tankers which arrive at their homes, I feel really sorry for the poor who cannot afford to buy water from these tankers.
Thanks to the absolute shamelessness of politicians who do nothing to improve the conditions of people, the problems of Bangalore continue. I hope that the situation in Bangalore is better when I visit next.
One positive change I saw was the polite behaviour of people in some government offices I visited. I do know that they still do no work unless bribed but it was a relief to see their polite behaviour! But I wonder… a polite corrupt person better than a rude corrupt person? I don’t know!Does the lamb prefer a smiling butcher to a stern butcher?  You tell me!

Another change I have seen in Bangalore over many years is the importance people are giving to looks, appearence and grooming ! It is not just the rich or middle-classes. Now nearly all people seem to dye their greying hair, nearly all women do their eye-brows and use some minimum makeup! About 2 decades ago, one could see lots of greying men and women but hardly any now. It is great to see people caring about their appearence but I also miss the greying middle-aged who cared more for 'the important things in life' than looks!
Several people in my village too had started dying their hair and this surprised me. The only time anyone ever bought a hair-dye packet in my village was when they wanted to sell their aged buffalo; they would dye the entire animal's body, hoping that it looks younger if it is blacker and try to sell it as a young one which is capable of yielding lots of milk! I am also thinking of the impact of lead pollution in the water, caused by this Kala Mehendi(Indian hair dye powders have  lead in them) being used by greying Bangaloreans over time.
Some changes which will make a positive difference to life in Bangalore:
If people carried cloth bags when they shop and refuse the plastic bags, there will be less plastic bags, less plastic floating around in gutters, on roads, less plastic pollution.
If people waited instead of trying to over-take while driving  and showed patience and good manners, the traffic jams will clear faster.
If people, stopped using precious drinking water to clean their front yards daily, several thousand buckets of water will be saved.
If people planted a few plants in their houses instead of building on every inch of space in their sites, there would be ground water recharging, some oxygen generation, some greenery, some shade.
If people simplified celebrating festivals or changed the way they celebrated, there would be so many positive impacts. Use of Ganeshas and Gouries without color during Ganesh Chaturti would reduce lead poisoning of water tanks; Not using tinsel to decorate; not using fire-crackers during Deepavali; substituting newspaper to wrap incence sticks, camphor would reduce the plastic papers lying around temples. I know the banning of fire-crackers will have a negative impact on fire-cracker manufacturing units in Sivakasi and other places but I hope they will change their business to something else.
The government and many government employees can do so many things to improve the life of Bangaloreans but as they are shameless corrupt bastards loaded with impunity and not burdened with a conscience, it is a waste of time suggesting anything to them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cultural Pathologies of India

Mental illnesses are universal i.e. found in all societies and cultures.

Mental illnesses existed in the past, exist now and will continue to exist later too.

The causes of mental illnesses such as environmental stresses and biological, psychological , genetic vulnerabilities are present everywhere.

However, the environmental stresses are unique to each culture and so the person’s manifestations of symptoms too will vary. A schizophrenic from Russia may suspect the KGB of following him, an Indian schizophrenic may believe his neighbour has put black magic on him….and so on. Though the underlying illness, e.g. Schizophrenia is the same in all countries, the manifestation of symptoms of schizophrenia varies as it is influenced by culture.

There is a fascinating chapter in the CTP (Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry by Kaplan & Sadock) about mental illnesses unique to different cultures. There are also new diagnosis of new mental illnesses being published in medical literature . Some of the new disorders which did not exist a few years ago include internet addiction, video game addictions, Hoarding,etc. This indicates that  new changes in lifestyles, for example the invention and wide-spread use of computers brought about these new disorders.

Here, I am writing about my observations of the oddities unique to Indian culture  I came across in the patients of a department of psychiatry  I worked in India

These patients of the outpatient department  had odd behaviours, personality traits, style of thinking, unique to Indian culture which

(a)are definitely MALADAPTIVE.

(b)Do not add up to a full diagnosis of a mental illness or a personality disorder or a neurosis

(c) have not been recognized as a mental disorder by the medical field as yet

(d) but are sufficient to warrant attention, sufficient to prevent the person from spending life as a happy, well adjusted, productive person.

Let me add here that I observed  these behaviours  not only in clients who came into the psychiatry dept seeking help but also  in Indian society.

These are not full blown mental illnesses but behaviours which I came across in my practice…these behaviours cannot be given any existing diagnostic label either from the ICD-10 or the DSM-IV R as they don’t fit the criteria. I strongly believe that most of these behaviours also exist as the Indian culture encourage or at least do not actively discourage these behaviours. Also the extremely schizophrenic nature of Indian society may be contributing for the development of unhealthy behaviours to cope with this society.

The “odd but not odd enough for a clinical diagnosis” behaviours and personality traits intrigue me and as I neither have the interest or energy to do more research, I have just blogged my thoughts below.

I just thought of something! These may not be unique to India, they may be in other societies too....but my experience is mostly in India. I also think that any culture with similar patterns in the  roles of parents, similar interaction patterns in the society, similar pwoer structure, similar hierrarchy, similar role of religion, etc may produce the same patterns of behaviour.

The lazy person: These are young men of say 20-30 years of age brought by their parents, usually village or small town folks, usually of agricultural background. They are of middle class or lower middle class. These young men are not working, they are either married or single, with at least  grade 10  level of education or a bit higher. The parents main concern when they land in the outpatients department of psychiatry is that their son work on the family owned agricultural land or get a job.

Interviews, mental status examinations, psychological testing yield no answers to the person’s lack of interest in finding work or working. They do not seem to have depression, anxiety or schizophrenia and there is no disturbance of biological functions. The biggest issue/?symptom is the lack of motivation and lack of interest to work. These youth do not mind idling away the days, either visiting the town, gambling with friends, going to movies, etc. If they happen to be married, they do not have a sense of responsibility about their wife or kids .
To some extent, the Indian society contributes to this behaviour. The youth are brought up dependent on their parents. When these youth enter their teens and refuse to participate in the house or field work, their parents are easy-going and dont push them to work; marriages are arranged for them when they are in their twenties…(there is no courtship as these marriages are arranted by parents) . The  girl  chosen to marry one of these youth, usually has little or no choice about marrying the youth.

Once married, the girl lives with her husband and parents-in-law. She does the housework while her parents in law and brothers-in-law continue to work in the fields. The lazy person’s wife continues to look after him such as cooking for him, doing his laundry, etc. As it is a joint family, there is no danger of economic problems and this lazy person continues his idle lifestyle. The lazy person is supported by the joint family system adequately and he even has children who are looked after by his wife, brothers, his parents while he takes little or no responsibility. When brought to the psychiatry department, some report a few somatic symptoms for their ‘inability’ to work. However most of these people, lead lives in the villages and rarely are considered as needing psychological or psychiatric help.

A few of them get some sense of satisfaction or the feeling of achievement by doing very light chores and also doing chores of their choice. If a chore involves visits to the city or another village or meeting someone interesting, they offer to do it, but decline to do any task which is hard or mundane !

I have seen a similar pattern of behaviour in the cities too in the  males of joint families who run family businesses. While one son or two sons are  hardworking and slog away at the family business , one or more may work in a very cursory manner and get away by whiling their time indulging themselves. The eldest or the most assertive may control the money and again there is a lot of unfairness regarding how much money each son or his family can  access. The assertive ones get more from the pot while the less assertive ones get little and this leads to a lot of frustration for  wife and kids of the unassertive son(the guy who works and takes little from the pot does not feel disturbed but his wife and kids surely do!) Several women from such joint families have approached the psychiatry department for counselling and expressed their bitterness and frustration. But the problems of the joint family system in India is another huge can of worms altogether.

Another similar set of  people are  the unemployed youth in India... at least the few I have seen in my village and taluk: They are either college or school drop outs, unemployed and  who tend to hang about ‘important’ people such as politicians or people in the political field and 'obey' these big shots.. Most of these youth are not really employed by these politicians but they seem to enjoy hanging around these men and whiling away their years. They seem to derive a sense of satisfaction and importance by being associated to these politicians who are mostly thugs. The politicians too make use of them and also manage to attract them by providing them, not consistently  but on & off, alcohol, food & money  and also  as I recently discovered, sex trade workers. Though there is no consistent salary or work,  these youth tend to hang around these people.
I bet there are a few people out there who may find me judgemental....that "to spend life, in a way one likes is okay and who am I to judge?" But I find this way of life parasitic, where the lazy person, seems to live off others, without guilt or any qualms. They are young, able-bodied and idle. There are millions of youth in India who are struggling to find a job and earn a living but unable to do so. However these youth are those who smply do not want to work. Not wanting to work, (a)when one is able,(b) when work is available, (c)when one is dependent on others (for food, etc) is a kind of pathological behaviour according to me.
The consistent failure of the monsoons in Tumkur has now increased the number of such youth...i.e. those who while away their time. But is this a  mental illness or a disease of society and circumstances...circumstances such as poor rains, failed crops, poor skills dervided from a lacklustrre education system, poor opportunities for jobs?
I am not sure whether I would call the young, able-bodied people begging on the roads or the saffron-clad people, who lead their life praying and wandering as having pathological behaviours. Many beggers identify begging as a profession and so I do not find begging pathological. Being Indian and a Hindu, I have empathy for monks, mendicants, sanyasis, sadhus, etc and do not find the behaviour of those who have given up family and work to search God,  pathological.
I must relate an interesting  case here. I had attended the case conference of a young man, who belonged to a rich business family in India. He had left his home and wanted to become a Monk. He was an only son, heir to heaps of property and businesses and his father was growing crazy trying to get his son to come back home! He had dragged his son to this psychiatric hospital and wanted the psychiatrists to cure him. Lots of mental status examinations, psychological testing, physical examinations later, the shrinks could not find anything wrong with him! Other than wanting to become a Sanyasi, this guy was perfectly normal! Swami Vivekananda is another example of a person who gave up home life to become a monk.
 I have heard of a few men who gave up family and  jobs and everything in their life and went in search of God or Nirvana or whatever at different points in their life. These men usually went to temples or Ashrams in the Himalayas and did not return. Let me explain here that none of these men were running away from difficulties in life, none were mentally ill, none were doing it on the sly. They had this inner urge to find God (or whatever) and left their safe, comfortable homes. They spent the reminder of their lives in these ashrams till they died.
Many of these men were deeply knowledgable about philosophy and were good debaters and teachers about their school of philosophy , their religion and rituals. Today, one finds such people in smaller numbers than in the past, but they do exist. These people  renounce the usual way of living....the usual way of living is  going through the life cycle of studies, marriage & children, work, retirement...or the 4 Ashramas i.e. Brahmacharya, Gruhasta, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa;
 These people jump into the Sanyasa ashram very early in their life, maybe without ever entering either the Gruhasta or Vanaprastha Ashramas. Having met a few of these men, I am full of admiration for their knowledge, calmness and their wisdom and though they have sought this life style, one can never accuse them of any sort of pathology. They derive meaning in life through their search for God, serving people by teaching philosophy, working in the Ashrams, doing social service. Many have left grieving wives and parents behind but this does not seem to affect them. (Hindu philosophy says that "you come into this world  alone  and you leave this world alone". These monks seem to follow this and have no sadness when they leave  their family members). This life style is seen all over the world...the Catholic  priests who dedicate their lives to God, the nuns, The Buddhist monks in different parts of the world and so on.
But in today's very materialistic world, these people stick out like sore thumbs at times. It would be wonderful if these people were looked after by the governments of their countries so that they could dedicate their lives to Philosophy, which would benefit all mankind. In India, these monks can survive due to the alms given by people, as people have faith in the monks. But I think it would be very difficult for these men to survive in countries where  everyone is expected to earn and not beg for a living. A begging monk would look definitly odd/pathological in some places.


Wild goose chasers: OR People with poor judgement OR unrealistic people OR  Delusional people.

If someone is persistent and succeeds their persistence is admired but if someone persists and fails they are labelled insane for persisting in something that was doomed to fail!

I know it is wrong to judge a person’s sanity by the results they achieve but I cant help it . This kind of doomed persistence and therefore insanity is seen in another set of people(cultural pathology-2) who try for roles in movies or television series in India. I have seen about 4 people in the dept of psychiatry and I am sure there are millions more in India who fit this type of madness. The symptoms they have include:

A strong, persistent, unshakable belief that they should be a movie actor

No training to reach their goal such as no efforts to enrol in an acting school, etc

Very average looks ( Believe me, in India, ‘looks, contacts & money’ are more important than acting skills, if you want to get a ‘break’ in movies or serials)

Refusing/not trying to develop skills to get alternate jobs if acting does not pan out.(there's no plan-B)

Hanging out near film shooting units, near directors and producers of movies at all times or as much as possible.

Doing odd chores for the movie people, working without payment in the hope that they will get a role, waiting for years without losing hope.

Neglecting all other areas of their lives such as family, education, job, hobbies, etc.

I have seen one who dropped out of college and was hanging around movie units till his 30s...he never completed his educaiton nor did he seek a job...his mother fed him daily and he spent his time hanging at movie shooting sites, hoping to get a role...for years and years!

There was another guy  who left his village to work in movies and never got a role but was hanging around the movie sets;
And one guy who wrote scripts without getting paid or even getting credit though his scripts werrre used.

No amount of counselling can make these people get out and seek a different goal in life.

In some ways they are like gamblers and people who buy the lottery…the firm, unshakable belief/delusion that one day, their day will come. But it never seems to come to many.

I do not even want to talk about the deluded young women who want to enter the film field in India.  In addition to all the  problems  the deluded film-crazy young men experience, these young women face sexual exploitation too.

My family have argued with me about including this wild goose chase as a family members, think that there is nothing wrong about being passionate about something, that most Indians always play it safe and are conservative and want to only seek education which gaurentes them jobs...that most Indians are averse to risk and dont even attempt to do something they love, without worrying about earning. But I disagree. I have seen many people in India who are passionate about what they do and they do it knowing fully well that they may not earn much but they are enjoying what they are doing and they are passionate about thier work. I dont see these people as mentally ill ...I see them as passionate, perhaps not practical and worldly but they do know the consequences of thier choices and still choose to do what they do. One example is a close friend of mine who is an artist...does minimalist works which are not really popular in India but she does it as it is her passion. She has exhibited abroad and has sold to museums but has little money to show for it. Though she is frustrated about the poor money she makes, she has accepted the low financial benefits and refuses to make art which is more commerically viable.


Another phenomenon I observed while working in the Indian hospital is the onset of psychosis in one set of students i.e. students  taking the PUC ( PUC is Pre-University Certificate…it is the 11th & 12th grade equivalent)exams especially the science stream:

I worked for about 7 years in the psychiatry dept and came across more than 25-30 cases of 'first episode' psychosis/schizophrenia in youth aged about 17-18. The fact that it is a first episode psychosis is not unique. The age of onset is also not unique. What was unique was that all of these youth, were studying in the science stream (i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics as their main subjects) and were in the second year when they had their first episode of psychosis. This indicates to me that :

It is mostly the science stream who were stressed out enough to have a break down and not the arts or commerce students of PUC or other youth of the same age group.

It is only in the second year of PUC that the stress gets to them.

This indicates to me that many students taking the science stream are extremely stressed out and should not be stressing themselves out like this. They opt for science so as to study engineering, medicine, dental, and other professional courses after PUC

I am not talking of a cause-effect relationship between taking science and getting psychosis, but these are kids who got poor scores in school, have limited capacity to study tough subjects, yet opt for these subjects and then break down.

A major insane behaviour seen in south India and now I realize it is a behaviour seen in many east Asian countries as well…… the insane need of parents to force kids to study science ; some parents  believe this is the only way to ensure future economic and job success/security for their kids. It is not just the parents who insist their kids to study science; many kids too opt for science even if they lack the interest or aptitude for science for insane reasons like, ‘All my friends are taking science and I have to take it too’; or ‘others will think I am dumb if I do not take science’.

Truth be told, I have seen parents who did not want their child to take science in college as they knew it would be too tough for their child to handle but their child insisted on taking science as "all his friends were taking science". I have also seen children who did not want to take science but were coerced by parents who assumed that their child's future would be bleak if he took arts or some other stream.

I suppose variations of this behaviour is seen in children and parents all over the world. For example, I have a Canadian colleague who says that ‘every Canadian parent seems to think that his kid is the next NHL player’ and that lots of parents put immense pressure on their kids to do well in sports, irrespective of the child’s skills or aptitude.

Putting pressure on one's children, controlling many aspects of their life is one common feature in many eastern cultures. This makes children feel powerless and resentful. They end up doing many things against their wishes and finally if they meet with failure, the blame-game starts and no one is willing to take responsibility. Children blame parents for not being allowed to make their own choices and parents blame children for failing in spite of the sacrifices they made for them.
Lots of adults do not have choices in eastern cultures and have to do their parents bidding. Parents dictate what the adult child wears, what he/she chooses to study. Even the career and spouse may be chosen by parents! With little autonomy over their lives, it is natural for a variety of pathological behavioiurs to develop.
Lack of logic: To me, this is the biggest mental symptom in the Indians ( I am an Indian and so I may have the same symptom……. who knows???) A lack of logic and magical thinking is highly prevalent in the Indian population and seems to be unaffected by factors like education, intelligence and exposure to facts! To me this lack of logic or magical thinking or Denial as the Freudians call it is a huge barrier to successful and happy adjustment .

Let me tell you some examples of the unrealistic expectations, I came across in my clients:

Teens and their parents: Many parents dragged their teenage kids to me for counselling to improve their academic performances. They would ask/demand for pills to improve memory, pills to improve intelligence, hypnosis to improve their performance in exams.

On assessment, most of these kids were average or low average and their parents expected spectacular academic performances from them. They believed that if the kid only worked harder, he could get 100% in mathematics or 99 in physics or whatever. No amount of explaining or counselling would dispel the expectations they had of their kids. I was distressed to see a person who had a son with developmental delay who was giving him pills (from Himalayan Drug company) to improve his IQ as was promised by the person who prescribed it.

An illogical belief in prayers, worship, rituals, mantras, etc to cure mental illness: Many clients to the department of psychiatry, especially those from rural areas, lower socio-economic status, lower literacy levels usually took the family member suffering from mental or physical illness to black magicians, priests to get them cured as they believed the cause of the problems was black magic done by some jealous person and removing the black magic will cure them. What left me irritated was that a lot of literate people too held these beliefs. By literate I mean those with at least college level education and some with science majors!

Going in unprepared, in the belief that things will 'somehow' workout: This is another illogical practice I have observed in me, many Indian children and adults. Many Indians (and maybe people of other nationalities too but I do not know of them) go to many important events totally or partially unprepared and hope that  'luck' will get them good outcomes! I have seen students who whiled away their time and went unprepared for exams and expected some good fortune to happen to them to give them a pass with good marks! I have seen adults go to interviews without preparation, hoping that they will be 'lucky' and get the job! I have seen people expecting good luck to take care of them and they never try to take to do the logical thing to get a favourable outcome i.e.  planning ,doing what is needed  and by working hard!


Apart from the examples mentioned above of people who show odd behaviours and do not fit into any diagnositc category, there are also people in India who fit into psychiatric diagnostic categories but who do not have any label attached to them and who are doing well. These are the Asperger's syndrome people, alcoholics,people with other forms of substance abuse, some people with borderline or mild developmental delay, people with a definite psychiatric diagnosis but who do not ask for asessment and treatment, etc.
 These people live in society and are never brought for treatment...this happens as they not only lack insight but as the people  around them are lacking the guts to suggest they get treatment or report them to the proper authorities.

A few of the several cultural and economic factors causing pathological behaviours in people of India:
Demanding Dowry: Not only do people take dowry, but they pretend they don't; It is the pretence which is more nauseating than the asking or taking dowry itself.
Bullying of new students by old students
leading to the victims attempting/completing suicide, giving up the educational course and returning home, suffering from depression and anxiety, etc.
Farmers suicides due to a range of interrelated factors
Murders of wives by alcoholic men: These men are so brain damaged by heavy drinking and suffer from alcoholic jealousy and paranoid illnesses. But the newspaper articles reporting of incidents of these men killing their wives never mention the  psychiatric problems such as alcoholic jealousy, paranoia and brain damage  these men suffer from; this gives the impression, to the vast majority of readers that the wives were adulterous. Since I see at least one such death every week in one city's newspapers, you can imagine how many more are happening!
Exposure to Gender and Caste discrimination in India right from childhood, leads women and lower caste people to have a certain unhealthy self-concept and low self-esteem. This pathology of low self-esteem is common in majority of Indian women, low caste people and by many others who are neither low caste or women such as thpose who suffer from handicaps, and those who are different in some visible way;
people in India develop low self-esteem, for various faulty child-rearing patterns, harsh teachers and  stupid value system, period.
The few who do not develop this pathology and have healthy self-esteems are brutally treated by some who cannot tolerate this and verbally or physically assault them until they are cowed down. This is seen more in rural areas than urban and among the  folks who are less evolved. A low caste person demanding his rights is considered to be 'arrogant'; or  a girl who demands equal rights is subjected to such harassment until she backs down and accepts that she was wrong. I can go on and on about several such issues. But I think I have made my point that
 several aspects of Indian culture is pathological;
that many pathologies are acceptable and normal and highly valued in India and
many  normal and decent values are unacceptable to majority of people; that this will continue as long as the people who are right do not fight and resist; that this will continue as long as the oppressors who benefit from this pathology, fight to maintain the current sick culture.



Cases of Nonconsummation of marriage was another unique phenomenon I came across in Indian society through the psychiatry department clients. On taking the case history and detailed interviews, I realized that

most of the marriages were arranged by the parents of the man and woman, there had been little or no courtship or interaction or even communication during the period they knew each other before the marriage.

Causes for non-consummation: Often the man or woman, were not interested in the marriage but were forced to marry by the parents.

In more than one case the man was gay and had not revealed to his parents or wife and the homosexuality was disclosed only when the medical team interviewed him at length.

In some cases, one of the spouses already had a lover, but had neither told the parents nor tried strongly enough to resist marriage to this person. After marriage, the other spouse was left wondering why, the partner refused to have sex.

There was one case of impotence, one case of schizophrenia (parents had not disclosed that he was mentally ill either to the bride or her parents) and one case of severe alcohol dependence for non-consummation of marriages.

It was very sad for me to see the lives of these young men and especially women, affected by this web of lies and deceit which could have been avoided, if the spouse/his family was upfront before the wedding and prevented teh wedding from ever taking place!

I do not know if any of the cases I saw went through divorce or  got counseling or got some sort of help. The person with schizophrenia did get help but the others did not return after a few sessions.

In India, with arranged marriages still prevalent, I do not know how many other types of problems are lurking.


Children’s expectations from their parents: One slightly bizarre behaviour I saw in a few cases was the demands made by children on their parents in some upper and middle-class families.
Two were women :one in her late 30s and one in her late 40s ; both were furious with their fathers for not getting them married. As you know it is mostly arranged marriages in India and Indian girls expect their parents to find suitable grooms for them. These 2 women during their 20s had rejected many ‘suitable’ proposals when their dad brought them giving various reasons such as he is not good looking, he is not in a good job, he is not earning enough, I don’t like his house, etc. Now in their 30s and 40s, they are accusing their aged parents, of ruining their lives. Both women are unemployed, have gradually withdrawn and refuse to visit other families and friends, do not participate in house work and are looked after by their aging parents. It is difficult to make any diagnosis as they do not fulfil any criteria except maybe psychosis nos or depression nos. At the beginning i.e. when this behaviour starts, they do not fit any diagnostic criteria but after several years of the same behaviour and increase in withdrawal, they seem to fit criteria for a illness at some point in time. The lapse into illness is 'seamless' and slow.

Unfortunately I have seen many similar cases amongst relatives, friends and neighbours. I really blame the Indian culture for these expectations  children have of their parents.

It is a combination of reasons such as
(a) the youth not allowed to find their own spouses i.e. lack of autonomy over one's life and parental interference,
(b) the youth not allowed to mix freely with the opposite sex(this has changed now, at least in the cities, thank God),
(c) lack of economic independence (mostly in women than men)when one does not work.
 I have also seen cases of severe marital conflict and where the married person continues to blame the parents (for  several decades after marriage),  for not finding a suitable partner. The parents bear it silently with a sense of guilt. This would not happen if one could have autonomy over selection of one's partner. Many of the people continue to be married to the person who was 'selected by parents' and neither divorce or try to get along or seek counselling. They spend lives in bitterness. 
One major reason for this seems to be that many Indians do not take responsibility but blame others or external forces for their miseries. To this day, a common tale of woe you hear in many Indian households is of a father or mother telling the kids   " I did not want to marry your father/mother. I was forced to by your grandfather and now my life is ruined". These accusations continue to be thrown for ages and never seem to stop!

Another type of unrealistic expectations I witnessed was kids demanding their parents to shell out huge sums of money (“take a loan if you do not have the money; Get me the money somehow”!) for their education. One case I quote here was a girl of 18 who got average marks (and hence the marks are not good enough to enter medical college easily) and got into a medical college after her parents took a huge loan(fees/donation are high if your marks are poor). She then refused to go to the college as ‘she did not like it’ and demanded her parents take another loan and put her in another medical college! It was then her parents brought her in for counseling. This girl was simply unable to see reason and refused to budge saying that her parents have to take a loan and get her into another college and that she will clear their loan at a later date. She dropped out after coming reluctantly just once and I am not sure what happened to her. This is another case which looks so delusional and yet her bizarre behaviour is partly the result of her parents being indulgent for a long period of time....and being unable to put their foot down when she made these ludicrous demands.

 I have seen many adults make similar unrealistic demands on  their hapless parents and throw tantrums (these are adults in their 30s and 40s…not little children). I have seen some guys asking their parent to get them a beautiful bride and their parents move heaven and earth, trying to find someone not only beautiful but also willing to marry their son! What puzzles me is the utter coolness with which these demands are made, the inability to see how wrong their demands are, and the parents inability to draw the line.

All these behaviours do not add up to a personality disorder in most cases. They definitley do not add up to be schizophrenia, depression, mania or any type of psychosis. These are behaviours which have reached this point due to a variety of cultural factors such as over-indulgence by parents , partiality to male children, parents jumping through hoops for thier kids instead of setting limits...believing that if they give everything to thier kids, they will make thier kids happy and successful or that their kids will love them or look after them in their old age.

The shocking anti-social  behaviours displayed by the sons of the very rich in India such as sons of politicians is another example of cultural pathology. These boys get away with murder!...Yes. They can literally kill one or more human beings and get away with it. Reading the Indian newspapers will give you many examples. These kids do not display such  pathological behaviour because of  mental illnesses ...they become like that due to cultural factors such as over-indulgent parents and sycophants surrounding their families; deviant parent role models, not being punished when they do wrong as children, etc. The fact that their parents use their power to twist the law to get their kids out of trouble only encourages them more.

There is also the unnatural expectations parents have from their adult children (such as complete obedience without exercising personal choice or independent thinking) but I am not going to dwell on it much. You would have seen it in the million Hindi movies released every year.

Blind love is another phenomenon but this is of course not unique to India! I have seen this both in  people with and without psychiatric diagnosis . I have seen it in friends and relatives. To me blind love is where a person is having so much love and affection for a person that  it blinds them to the loved one’s defects.

I have given one example of blind love here; one psychiatric patient killed a person and  reached his  home late that night. He confessed to his mother that he has just killed a person and do you know what his mother's response was? His mother told him,” what is done is done and cannot be undone. Eat your dinner. You are late and you must be very hungry”.  She was more worried about her son's hunger  than about the murder he had committed!

There are many such people, who love so blindly that they simply fail to see even the most severe faults in their loved ones. Mothers blind love and forgiving nature towards their ‘oldest child’, ‘youngest child’, ‘only son’, ‘only daughter’ , ‘grand-child’, is bizarre, moving and sickening all at the same time!

 I know an old lady, whose son borrowed money and failed to return and the mother accused the moneylender! The lender had actually lent the money out of compassion but this mother accused him of loaning money to her son for the selfish reason of charging interest! She did not acknowledge the fact that her son did not even bother to return the money or pay interest or even call the money lender to apologize.
The extent to which blind love, twists people’s logic is simply amazing. I know of another mother who was treated very harshly by her adult son.... Instead of feeling anger against her son, she  blamed the maid-servant  in the house for putting black magic on her son and turning him against her!  The human mind has an infinite capacity to be deluded!There are millions of cases such as this but again, they are not really mentally ill according to any criteria. But to the eyes of an objective outsider, the delusions appear highly pathological!
Twisted perception such as the ones mentioned above is another common pathology one sees in India. Indians (or is it the entire world?) interpret informaton in ways to suit their beliefs, they twist reality and make explainations to suit their perceptions. The reason I keep harping on India and Indians is that I have lived in Canada for 8 years and I do not see the extent of delusions, lack of logical thinking, and denial and twisted perception among the Canadians...whatever their level of education, age or background is. They seem to be more grounded and realistic than Indians are. This makes me wonder if we Indians are somehow more delusional and pathological than the rest of the world. One good reason I can think of for this could be that: The stress caused by living in India is much higher than living in Canada. Therefore we all become a bit mad, in order to survive living in India. If we were completley sane and not delusional, then living in India would become hell! (No defense mechanisms to survive the ugly truths we face in India means ouor ego will collapse in no time!)

As society evolves,  people evolve too and adapt to the change. It is possible that the pathologies are not new but have been influenced by the culture and transformed into new maladaptive behaviours. For example the addiction may have changed over time but  addicts have existed at all points in time. It may have been alcohol addiction in the last century and drug addiction today.

There is an ongoing Metamorphosis of culture, society& behaviour and therefore metamorphosis of  pathology too.  I wonder  if a day will come when society has evolved in a healthy direction and  to such an extent   that there will be very little need for pathological behaviours.
One example of society evolving and decrease in pathological behaviour I have observed is that in my family (about 100 including all uncles, aunts, grand parents, cousins, their spouses, siblings, their spouses, etc)there seems to be lesser of blaming parents as autonomy in choice of partner has increased in the recent generations. My grand parents generation had no choice in selection of their own spouse, parents generation had no choice too; but in my generation, those who married 30 years ago had no choice but those marrying now select their own spouses....the marital harmony, respect for women, economic equality between genders, 'about' equal levels of  education between the genders and also greater levels of education than pervious generations, etc seems greater in the newer marriages than the older ones.
Another example I can give about evolving leading to decreased pathology is  the lower prevalence of mental illness and greater mental health in healthier societies today such as the Scandinavian countries.
A few other pathologies I have observed which seem to be unique to India and these are pathologies which are sub-clinical and not enough to warrent a diagnosis are:

Attributing success and failure to totally unrelated events:
e.g.: I passed in the exam because I prayed to God;
e.g.: I failed in the exam because a black cat crossed my path , the day I went to write the exam.

I always believe that where there is no freedom and where people are repressed, threathened and bullied,  they show unnatural behaviours. The behaviours are not natural to the situation and often people do not even realize what is happening. In majority of the people's lives, there is fear and lack of freedom. So majority of people show unnatural behaviours in many situations.
The harsh punishment of teachers in schools scars many children for life and they show unnatural behaviours all through thier lives.
The punitive methods used by many parents especially in the lower strata of society makes many children behave unnaturally. Exposure to harsh realities of life from childhood itself such as hunger, physical,verbal and at times sexual abuse make many children react unnaturally.
The bullying nature of bosses, the hierarchy, the nepotism, gender inequality, discrimination based on caste, etc at work places make people cope by reacting unnaturally.
Why do I say "react unnaturally"? to all the above situations. It is becaue to react naturally in those situations is to expresss anger, dislike and to escape or to change the situation. However, as most children and people are neither able to escape or change the situations, they end up by coping with it in unnatural ways. This is the pathology. For example, The child fearing but continuing to respect and obey the punitive/bullying teacher is a kind of pathological behaviour but it helps the child cope and survive. This can go on for so long that the child, now an adult, does not even realize that it is wrong or pathological to respect and obey a bullying person. As an adult, the person does  not even recognize abuse as he is so used to it from childhood and thinks of abuse as "something good and necessary" and may himself become abusive .....and perceive it as "I may be harsh but it is for the child's good".

When one looks around in many eastern societies, so many pathological behaviours go unrecognized as pathological. Some of these pathologies are even glorified as Good or benevolent behaviours!
I have seen parents of kids with ADHD  who are initially, extremely proud of their kids as they equate the hyperactivity with intelligence ; another example is that many men with poor social skills or shyness,  or men who do not interact with women are regarded as 'very decent' and 'good' while someone who interacts easily may be suspect! Asperger's goes undiagnosed often in Indian culture; many cases of mild depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive neurosis, several types of seizures, many personality disorders, borderline intelligence, are neither recognized or treated. The odd behaviours are accepted, tolerated, maybe even considered as more  'positive'  than 'normal' behaviours by Indians! This happens even amongst the educated folks.
I have seen one very pious and religious family who believed that their son who was very very hyperactive in childhood was an incarnation of Lord  Krishna. The positive view of his ADHD probably did good to his self-esteem but the family went through a tough time when his behaviours got worse as he entered adulthood and their belief that he is an incarnation of Krishna was severely tested.

Footnote: I was inspired to write this after reading online about  a pathology unique to Japan (and a few other east Asian countries)i.e. Hikikomori and after reading the chapter on cultural psychiatry in Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.
While working in India in a major mental hospital, I came across 'recognized' psychiatric disorders and psychiatric disorders unique to India such as Possesion, and disorders found more often in say for example the Indian population than the western such as psychogenic seizures. While there is some published research on disorders occuring in some cultures, there is not much being done to explore the link between the factors causing these problems and not much being done by the authorities(government, policy makers, etc) to counter these factors.


Abortion of female children is not unique to India. It is a practice prevalent in many countries in the east, in patriarchal societies, in societies where parents consider sons as blessings and assets and daughters as liabilities or a burden. The extent to which female fetus are aborted in India is so vast that the current male-female ratio is many parts of India is skewed. Instead of 50-50 or the 51 females to 50 males, typical of many developed countries, it is 933 females to 1000 males. I naively believed that education will lead to a healthier sex ratio and this is not so. People with education also abort female fetus; I naively believed that people of higher socio-economic status will not abort females as they don't have any 'financial problems' . But a study in Bombay, showed that the number of females born in 'affluent' areas of Bombay wee lesser than those born in less affluent areas of Bombay. Abortions are legal in India. However aborting a fetus because of it's gender i.e. because  it's a female is not legal. Yet, millions of fetus are aborted in India every year! What does this say about Indian society? About our morals and ethics and decency? You have these middle-class and upper class people, who visit the scanning centre and pay to know if the fetus is a female or male. Then they decide to abort it as it's a female. Become pregnant again and check again and abort again if it's another female. Continue this until a male is born! They don't experience guilt, significant enough to stop them from aborting. They overcome their guilt, if any, through many rationalizations to themselves. Of course, they keep this abortion a secret and don't discuss it openly. They don't want any criticism of their act! The people aborting are often  educated, know that it is both wrong and illegal, and are females themselves! I have seen a gynecologist abort her own female fetus until she had a son. I have seen lecturers who 'preach' to students about psychology, sociology, etc abort their fetus. The pathology  leading to abortion is multi-dimensional and too much to discuss at length here. I will mention a few here, without going into depth.
(a)double standards...preaching equality of genders but practicing abortion of female fetus.
(b) believing they are 'decent', morally upright', 'educated', people and don't even seem to realize they are murdering a helpless fetus, their own daughter or granddaughter or niece or whatever who is innocent, helpless. (many women abort because they are pressured into aborting by their husbands, in-laws, their own parents, etc)
(c). Their need to show off that they have a 'son' and their shame about 'not having a son'...they consider having a son as an achievement to be proud of! They don't seem to realize it is just 'chance' and 'nature' that it happens to be a boy. Their sense of shame, anger, and frustration when they have a daughter...though the girl who is born has done no crime!
(d)All of these unwashed ass-holes want a good-looking, hard-working, obedient, educated daughter-in-law for their son; but don't want a daughter !
(e)The people running the 'scanning centres' don't feel guilty and think they are 'doing a favour to society'; The doctors aborting countless female fetus don't have any compunction doing what they do. To hell with the Hippocratic oath! They are here to make money! There is so much money in abortions  in some parts of India, that doctors compete to do their masters in  courses related to this field. The police turn a blind eye or take bribes and let these things continue.
(f)What I hate the most is the need these people have to project an IDEAL FAMILY PICTURE to the world..."We are a happy family; My husband is an engineer and we have one son and one daughter. we have a house and car" . Or "we are a happy family; we have two sons". I HATE THE LIES OF THESE PEOPLE; They don't admit that their happy family is because they aborted 3 female fetus and kept trying for a son; they don't admit that the car the family has is the dowry given by the woman's dad; that he is an engineer because his dad paid donation as he did not get good enough marks to get an engineering seat. That he got the job of engineer as his dad and father-in-law bribed to buy his job"
It is the utter callousness of the abortions, and the hiding and lying about the abortions that bothers me the most about this Indian culture's pathology of female feticide.

I came across a few unusual  cases but as they are just one of a kind, I do not want to put them under cultural pathology. But they are definitely influenced/caused by the culture surrounding them.
Here are 2 which I recall.
One male, with 10th standard level of education was referred to psychiatry for assessment by surgeons of another hospital. He had approached that hospital asking for a sex change surgery and he had been referred to psychiatry to rule out psychiatric issues before they did surgery. I am not sure if the doctors would have gone ahead with the surgery if he had gone back to them. While interviewing this guy  about the reasons  for a sex change, he said he was the son of a farmer, he wanted employment in the polic force and if he was a female he had better chances of getting the job as he had the required 'height' and had passed 10th standard! He had two criteria to get the job; now al lhe needed to do was be a female(because some quota of jobs are reserved for females; the females quota of jobs remain unfilled at times due to few women applying)
I explained to him that the sex change operation was not simple or something he could be done with in a day or a week, that there was a lot of cost involved even if the surgery was free (hormone treatments), that there was no guarantee that he will get the police constable's job if he had the surgery, that he will have to explain to his parents, that he will have to face his village folk, etc.
 He had not thought this whole thing through and had just impulsively hopped on a bus and come to Bangalore, gone to a hospital and landed with us! He left us and did not come again. I hope he has reached his village safely and got a job or is working on his parents farm.
Why do I link this to culture or the society around him? I am not sure if I am right but I think  that: (1) if getting a job for a villager in India was not so difficult,(2) if he had a better quality education,(3) if he had sensible people around him with whom he could have discussed this idea of his, he would not have ended coming to Bangalore for a sex change operation.

The second case is of one where a rural boy had been dressed as a girl by his family since childhood and he also sat in the girls side of the class. Arond 7th standard, his family seemed to wake up and wanted him to start acting as a boy and dress like a boy but the boy refused. A similar case which again presented in the department of psychiatry was of a girl who had been dressed as a boy all her life and the parents wanted her to go back to being a girl when she was around 9th grade. What amazed me was that the kids got away in school. I alwyas wondered how they got away while using the toilets in teh school? I wondered about the relatives and neighbours who in the early days at least, would know the gender of the child and how could they ALL forget the gender of these kids over time?
In both cases, the parents had no satisfactory answers as to why they brought up the kids as the opposite gender.  I do know of many girls brought up as boys in Afganisthan so as to get education, go out in the city and work, go out to simply shop for vegetables. But these 2 kids were brought up as if they were the  opposite gender, studied alongside the opposite gender kids (a girl sitting with boys in class or a boy sitting with girls  is a very big deal in Indian villages) and were suddenly expected to change gender and behave and dress differently when the parents realized that 'the time had passed' and it was time for them to revert to their right gender. I do not know of what happned to these 2 cases too. Often, many villagers make one or two trips to the city hospitals and cannot afford to come for psychiatric treatment to the city regularly.

Another pathology, whether it is unique to India or prevalent in other countries I dont the Lack of depth in thinking and planning before taking major decisions. I will write about this some other time when I have composed my thoughts., Right now I have a dozen examples and I think if I write those examples, people from other countries will not believe these are true examples! That we could be so unthinking, ergo stupid in India!!!

Dressing as the opposite gender is something I have seen often in India. I think there are many reasons why we Indians do that but none of the reasons seem very strong. Parents want to see how their baby boy looks in a frock, they dress him in that. and take a few photoes for posterity! They  dress a boy as Krishna and that involves a lot of girlie things like silk clothes, eye-liner, rouge on cheeks, Lip stick, peacock feather in hair, gold jewels for arms, waist, etc. And some parents address a beloved daughter as if she is a son and this continues all through their life.
 But I have seen this often, with no serious psychological or other consequences.

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...