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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Travels with Biju and the Judge

Do you find parallels in the stories of Biju and Jemubhai each going abroad?

I'd love to hear what you think of how they are treated, how it affects them, how they are changed by these experiences, and how differently these stories of leaving end for each of them.

I found each of these stories to be very disturbing, very moving.

Rachel
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Travels with Biju and the Judge



rkubie wrote:
Do you find parallels in the stories of Biju and Jemubhai each going abroad?

I'd love to hear what you think of how they are treated, how it affects them, how they are changed by these experiences, and how differently these stories of leaving end for each of them.

I found each of these stories to be very disturbing, very moving.

Rachel




Biju's hardscrabble existence in Manhattan, and the Judge's studies in Cambridge, were negative experiences, and stunted them both. Both were deeply changed for the worst.

Biju belongs to the "shadow class" of illegal immigrants in Manhattan. He is constantly dodging immigration authorities, and getting fired or layed off from one menial, ill-paid job after another. Poor and lonely in Manhattan, Biju eavesdrops on wealthy businessmen eating steak and exulting over how wealthy they've become because of the new markets in India and Asia.

One scene that I broke my heart is when Biju scrambles with a crowd of other illegal immigrants to reach the visa counter at the US embassy...."..how self-contented and smiling he was; he dusted himself off, presenting himself with the exquisite manners of a cat. I'm civilized, sir, ready for the US. I'm civilized, Ma'am."

When he returns to India, he becomes part of the rage and frustrations which he hadn't experienced in Manhattan.

The Judge, isolated in racist England, feels "barely human at all" But when he returns to India, he despises his apparently backward Indian wife. He is one of those "ridiculous Indians" as Desai describes him, "who couldn't rid themselves of what they had broken their souls to learn". He's become an unbearable, Anglophiliac snob to his fellow-citizens. His Anglophilia turns into self-hatred.

Desai makes both Biju and the Judge unwanted anachronisms in post-colonial India. Their fellow-Indians are no longer seduced by the charms of the West; she presents a very bitter view of how humiliating Western colonization has been to India's economy and culture.

Definitely a very disturbing picture.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Travels with Biju and the Judge

Somehow, both stories taken together feel just crushing to me!

I think I found her conclusion to Biju's story more affirming, but I'll look again. Maybe this is only because his character is so much more sympathetic than the judge?

And I felt proud of Biju, despite the comic touches, to his decision to stop serving beef! And that he then must go work in a "Gandhi Cafe," a tourist trap--makes his decision to take charge of his own life somewhat comic or sad or both!
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