SCOOP-WALLAH by Justine Hardy


Life on a Delhi Daily
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Vivid impressions of the different India a young British journalist (Ochre Border, not reviewed) discovered while working as a writer for an Indian newspaper. Hardy has written one of those travel books that is more a collection of set pieces than a linear trek to a desired destination. Though she describes her time with the eccentric princely family whose apartment she shared in Delhi, her personal life is consistently upstaged by the stories she covers. An experienced journalist long drawn to India, she was inspired by a remark from her London greengrocer to apply for a job at The Indian Express, one of the country’s major dailies. Since she planned to report on the country from the inside, she held out for more substantive assignments when her editor wanted her to cover socialites and celebrities. She goes here to Assam, where tribal natives, seeking independence, wage a reign of terror in the tea gardens; to a remote valley on the Tibetan border where the Dalai Lama taught the local faithful and foreign tourists; and to the Delhi slums, where inspiring former journalist Gautam Vohra has set up education programs and an organic farm project to show villagers they can make a living farming. While researching a series on physical fitness, Hardy both meets a Brahmin pooja practitioner who foretells her future and also realizes that in a country where “spirituality and religious superstition hang about on every street corner,” there is no room for cynicism. Although her tone is light and her affection palpable, her stories reveal the depth of her attachment. Like the British women Kipling described, she has been in “a place so extreme that it sucked away all the smallness that lurked in the Englishness of the English.” India, warts and all, from a clear-eyed visitor who stayed long enough to learn—and still love. (B&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 0-7195-6140-X
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: John Murray/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1999


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