AN INDIAN SUMMER by James Cameron


Email this review


In no way is this a conventional travelogue or a tourist's appreciation of the dazzling and wretched subcontinent which has fascinated and repelled Cameron since he first visited it during WW II. Relatively unknown here (Cameron's last book, Point of Departure, was published in 1968), the author is a distinguished British journalist and TV commentator -- perceptive, honest and detached. His long Indian summer has become more, not less, intense with the passage of time and on this occasion he traveled in the company of his newly acquired Indian wife, which gave him a kind of double perspective on the country's myriad cultural incongruities -- hers, Eastern and infinitely tolerant; his, Western and critical. ""I suppose I am in everything but politics, a conservative,"" Cameron admits. And surely part of India's attraction is ""a sense of useless mystery,"" always there like the squatting figures by the creek -- ""public shithouse many miles long."" But even in India there are changes; Cameron was disgusted by the multiplication of swamis and angered by American kids with beads and beggars' bowls: ""an able-bodied member of the richest society on earth sponging on the poorest."" Cameron's observations take in everything -- the addled traffic patterns of Bombay, the distinctive features of Hindustani, a language useful only for the issuing of orders by the sahib to the servant, the curious nature of the job market where specialists abound and ""the more menial the task the more exclusive its nature"" so that the room-sweeper at the hotel will have nothing to do with the man who swabs the table. A wholly involving journey which ends somewhat apocalyptically with a horrific traffic accident that leaves Cameron hospitalized for months in the strange twilight zone between life and death -- a half world which adds extra dimensions to Cameron's intimate cross-cultural focus.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
Publisher: McGraw-Hill