A Student of Pakistan

Some years ago, when I was at university, I enrolled in a small class on South Asian history. The class was in fact tiny for such a large subject — only five students — and was the first stand-alone course on the history of the subcontinent ever taught at my school. That awkward and surprising fact aside (the year was 1989, the Berlin Wall would fall and declarations of the end of history would soon abound) the other odd nugget was that the course was taught jointly.  Two professors, B— and J—, one focusing on the history of India and the other on the creation of the nation called Pakistan. Even stranger, I learned that the pair of professors were connected. They shared a home and lascivious rumor had it that they were lovers. Continue reading

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Time for Real Communication

A London acquaintance of mine, John Freeman, was on the Diane Rehm Show last month discussing his new book, The Tyranny of Email.  Some of what he talks about is obvious, and the discussion occasionally veers toward a radio call-in sentimentality, but there are some nice moments in the conversation about letter writing in particular.  It reminds me that just as important (and difficult) is taking the time to consider — really consider — the people and experiences one has in life.  I only met John once in person, over coffee at Paul near the Granta offices.  He seemed hurried (and was late), but I remember enjoying the book I was reading while sipping coffee on the sidewalk that morning as much as the brief chat we had about supporting Granta’s work.  It would have been nice to have had time for a longer discussion, but in many ways that’s the point.  We’ve emailed a few times since that meeting and gone about our working lives.  Good to see he’s doing well.