About the Author
Eliot Weinberger’s most recent book is the essay collection Oranges & Peanuts for Sale.
What People are Saying About This
Hindoo Holiday sweeps the reader into a Firbankian world of total absurdity, in which the wildest fantasies of superstition and of sexual variety and experiment are the daily routines of the palace.
One of those books of rare occurrence which stands upon a superior and totally distinct plane of artistic achievement...It is a work of high literary skill and very delicate aesthetic perception and it deals with character and a milieu which are novel and radiantly delightful. What more, in an imperfect world, has one the right to expect?
His humour is the humour of pity and love. He is an artist of the understanding.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the wry, urbane memoir of five months spent as personal companion to the Maharajah of one of India's Princely States in the early 1920s. I enjoyed it - Ackerley writes with curiosity and an eye for the ridiculous, and his affection for the Maharajah and his time in India is clear. A side theme is Ackerley's interactions with the Anglo-Indians and Brits, who harangue him for becoming too close to the Indians and advise him against all his efforts to learn about and experience Indian culture. I also liked the character of the Maharajah, an absolute ruler but one with authority only over the most insignificant things (the British Political Agent is handing out instructions on behalf of the Raj).
An account of several months spent as the secretary of an Indian prince, in the 1920s. I liked his My Father and Me some years ago so I picked this up. His descriptions of the Prince and his fondness for beautiful young boys are amusing, and his wry observations of the people he meets are okay, but except for a few vivid descriptions of animals, it¿s not terribly interesting.
Ackerly has accessed a place where foreigners are usually not entertained:the Indian psyche.There are cringing flunkies and charming fellows here which urban Indians and foreigners travelling around India often encounter. But the real twist in the tale comes because of Ackerly's singular ability to make people act naturally in front of him,and show them their true colours.This ability alongwith his ability to write honestly and unjudgementally enables him to reveal to us the flesh-and-blood characters who think, feel, and live like many people we intimately know. Books about India often deal with the spirituality, the monuments, the culture, the color, and the royalty, of India.They make you believe there are no people real living there but interesting, obsequious, colorful characters who go all out to earn their Bakshish by pleasing the moneyed outsider.They are handled humourously or politely and patronisingly lest the hospitality stops on the next trip.Books like EM Forste's'Passage to India' and other fiction about Raj goes to other extremes to make up for this sketchy and shallow treatment of Indians in literature, and make their Indian characters a tad too rounded. Ackerly, surprisingly for his day and age, avoids all cliches, is hardly impressed by any monuments or traditions. His focus is people( one could also say men or boys) and he hardly has time for anything else but the idiosyncracies of the Maharajah whose personal secretary of sorts he becomes during his visit to Chokrapur(Chokra means Boy, nudge, nudge...), or the eccentricities of hindi teacher, the sagacity and balance of the prime minister and other the beauty and charm of beautiful youngmen he befriends or often feels spurned by.His involvemnet with the Indians he meets is intensely personal and plumbs such depth which acompanies relationships between people of the same colour and kind. His colour blindess and his complete imperviousness to 'difference' makes him come across as very contemporary. This a must read for all Indians, for they will be surprised at the sexual glasnost of the Chokrapur of the 1920s, and will be able to find characters whom they could easily relate with ( and most closely with Ackerly himself for his values and attitude are of any young urban Indian of today)as they crave freedom from superstition and strict religious code and are rearing to embrace westernization. For others who want a fresh look at a over-hyped and worse-for-wear cliches here is a book with insights and a view which one can never trade for all the descriptions of the Taj Mahal.