You’ve lived in India for far longer than many Indians, certainly longer than anyone of my generation, and you know more of and about India than most Indians. But you’ll never be seen as Indian, and you’ve spoken of your pride in your own English heritage too. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this particular dichotomy, of being a white man from Delhi?
Well, there was an occasion I remember that made me think about this. I was in Madhya Pradesh and I was speaking to some journalists, and one journalist stood up and said, “Do you think that the respect with which you’re held in this country has anything to do with your colour?” I had to say that I really hoped not. (Laughs)
But I didn’t really know the answer to that. I can only say that I have been treated with great respect and affection in this country, and I’m hugely grateful for it, and I think in part, and only in part, it may be due to the fact that as someone who’s not Indian-origin, I have chosen to identify myself in ways and live in this country.
But of course I’m not unique in that. It’s only because of my having been made prominent by the BBC that I’m in a peculiar position in this respect. There are plenty of other people, foreigners, who have come to live in this country, and contributed probably far more than I have.
Image: An American woman who has embraced the Sikh religion shouts orders as she prepares a local public school to accommodate some 400 foreign Sikhs in Anandpur.