The India to which I had recently returned, after more than a decade in America, was a markedly new one: a country where rice fields were giving way to highways, farmland to software complexes, and saris to pants. I’d followed the country’s economic resurgence during my time abroad and was eager to see the changes for myself. In America, my friends were worried about losing their jobs; they held on to what they had. But in India people I knew were quitting their jobs, casting aside the safety of well-established careers for the excitement—and potential riches—of starting their own business. Every other person I met dreamed of being an entrepreneur.
Indian cities felt simple; they embraced modernity unhesitatingly, even exuberantly. But in rural India, where I had grown up, and to which I had now returned, the nation’s transformation felt more complex. The sense of progress was often accompanied by a sense of loss; the celebration of the new was tinged with a longing for the old. The Indian countryside felt layered, nuanced—and sometimes a little bewildering. I often had a hard time knowing what to make of the new world emerging around me.
“If you really want to see how the villages are changing, you should visit a shandy,” I was told by a friend. It was he who introduced me to Ramadas that morning at the cow market. “He’s famous here,” my friend said. “Everybody knows Ramadas.”
Read more at The New Yorker. It’s behind a paywall now, but I will post again if it comes out from the paywall.