Sriram Karri

These random excerpts, from one of the best books to be published in 2015, have been curated by team The Opener.

On north Indians and south Indians:

“We—the south Indians and the north Indians—hate each other because we know we are, deep within, the same. The same stupidity, uncouth lack of sophistication… being crude, soily, loud, melodramatic, violent—each state, caste, race, creed, and group is the same. And more similar the feel, the more they stress upon the outwardly differences, and thus institutionalise a prejudice.”

On writing:

Slavery does not come easily to those who write. When it comes, writing stops, unless you are writing soaps for the telly.

Contrary to the cliché that the pen is mightier than the sword and all, the pen is actually quite weak against the gun. The gun often protects the man who holds it; the pen often gets the one who holds it killed. The pen is mighty but not for the writer.

The gun has never been withdrawn; writers around the world still face it.

On political leadership:

Society survives everything, including bad leadership.

On Lord Rama and Krishna:

Who is India more akin to, Lord Ram or Lord Krishna—the two most popular Godheads of Hindu culture. The answer was not very far to seek.

Krishna was an orphan, yet had several parents. Loved for stealing butter and bikinis of a million maidens when they were bathing, he was indulged and loved. Lord Ram, no charmer but a serious icon, responded to the drudgery of duty, killing monsters, pleasing his parents, society, and subjects in his kingdom, and rescuing his kidnapped wife after a fierce war with the mighty ten-headed demon king Ravana; and at the moment of victory, suspecting her fidelity, asked her to plunge into fire to prove her chastity.

India which won the Freedom, like Ram won Sita, also burned it, in disdain, in suspicion, in senseless public posturing.

On the older Indian generation:

“I will not say that I like you, though you may be an honorable exception in your generation, but it is a generation I hate. You represent the rot in my country… subsidized incompetence, intellectual degeneration, and spiritual corruption. No, I can’t say I like you, though you perhaps have worked to the best of your might to serve your nation.”

“Yes, haven’t I failed you?”

“Terribly! You were the ones who were given a free India, a value you perhaps did not deserve, from a generation that was noble, fierce, and picture-worthy. You were the ones who chose to pass on to us a devalued rot, because you looted, for decades, a mother you chose to bring down to the level of a whore.”

The questions:

Why do civilizations collapse and die? Why did the Greeks lose it all? Why did Rome decline and fall? Why did the British not create a benevolent world government when the sun was clearly setting on their empire? Why did America give up on the ideals of its founding fathers? Why did India barter Gandhi for Stalin-Lenin views? Why did Islam lose its sense of enlightened reason-led revolution and degenerate into a barbaric, mullah-dominated political system steeped in medieval dogmatism?

Why did the greatest of religions split into denominations and classes and sub-groups? Why was Renaissance not forever? Why did the Age of Enlightenment wither? Why did the White Man persecute the Jews, the Black, and the Brown?

Why was Adolf Hitler not assassinated by his own countrymen who truly loved Germany? Why did generation of men yield to slavery and oppression under Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and every other despot?

I think all misfortune in history is only because the best men of their time did not stand up, did not own their country as completely as they should have, and those who saw the future turned their backs and closed their eyes.

When the blind lead the blind, be assured that the blind followers have eyes but consciously opt to close them… like Gandhari, Duryodhana’s mother.

All human tragedy is the story of the first man not standing up.


The caveat: Read in isolation, as presented here, might not be enough to form an opinion. We recommend that a reader should read the complete book to get the context right. For all purposes, therefore, these excerpts are only meant to be a teaser of a book we enjoyed reading at Open Road Review.