Are you familiar with the above acronym?  If not, all will be revealed in a moment…

I was very tired yesterday, and spent the morning reading before going to Peter’s for yoga and food.  On my way back I noticed that the Turkish cafe was closed: ‘Duh!  Of course – Ramadan’, I thought.  I then noticed that the new Istanbul restaurant next door was fairly full.  The sun was not yet down but was setting and I wondered if the diners were breaking their fast and whether they were being a little premature or whether the sun going down counts as sunset.  Anyone know?

So – TLDR means, in case you didn’t know, Too Long Didn’t Read: a suitably crisp and internet-friendly response to anything longer than about four lines or more complex than a SOV* sentence.  I try not to make my blog posts TL, not because I have a low opinion of my readers’ attention-spans but because I am aware that people have many demands on their time and that a blog post needs to last about as long as a cup of coffee.  Or – preferably – tea.

Anyway, the thing I was reading yesterday was of course ‘A Suitable Boy’.  It’s the kind of book you can easily stay at home reading for several weeks before you make much impression on it: at 1400 pages it’s more or less the same length as ‘War and Peace’, and what it lacks in Tolstoyan depth it certainly makes up for in breadth.  It’s like an all-India pilgrimage in book-form – from village-India to the University at Brahmpur (the town where the main action takes place) to Calcutta to Kanpur: from factories to shops, markets and the back-alleyways where cobblers live hand-to-mouth, and thence to Benson-Pryce, the British-run firm where the British-loving brother of the heroine works and the after-work cocktail parties which he and his wife attend: from the rooftops where a Hindu wife trapped in purdah (I thought it was only Muslims who practised that particular form of torture) paces to and fro like a caged lion, to the law-courts and thence to the regional parliament and its relations with an indecisive post-Gandhi Nehru: from the local police station and riots averted by presence of mind, to a disaster at the Ganges-bathing festival; the breadth and length of this novel is truly breath-taking.

Whilst not neglecting the four families which make up the backbone of the novel, there is a cast of characters in this book as big as any Bollywood spectacular: and yet Seth never loses sight of the main story which runs like a gold thread through a bridal sari – the tale of Lata and Haresh, a fictional account of how the author’s own parents met and how – in spite of both loving other, unsuitable, people, they came to marry each other.

Which in turn brings me to arranged marriages.  It is a truism in those cultures which practise arranged marriage, that love comes after marriage and is contingent upon it.  Whereas in our culture it is accepted that love comes before marriage and is all-but killed off by it.  But I see this blog post is going on a bit, so out of fear of receiving the comment TLDR, I shall leave this subject for now.

Kirk out

*Subject-Object-Verb.  Not a kind of off-road vehicle.