anita desai

Topics: India, Writing / Pages: 16 (3853 words) / Published: Oct 19th, 2013
Interview with Anita Desai
Magda Costa interviewed Anita Desai in Barcelona, 30 Jan 2001. Desai was in Spain to launch the Spanish and Catalan translations of Fasting, Feasting.
-How was it to grow up in a family like yours, with a German mother and a Bengali father, in India?
-When you are a child you take for granted what your family is; you don’t question it. The fact is that my mother adapted so completely to the Indian way of life that nobody thought of her as a foreigner anymore. It’s true that we spoke German at home, which is unusual in India, but I think it was only as I grew up that I realised our home was a bit unusual. We spoke German, we listened to to Western music, read Western literature to a greater extent than our friends and neighbours, but in every other way we were exactly as any other Indian family in that neighbourhood.
-You say your mother adapted completely to the Indian way of life. Did she also convert to Hinduism?
-No, she didn’t change her religion, but she didn’t bring us up to be Christians either.
-However, you went to a Christian school, St. Mary’s.
- It was a missionary school. My parents simply sent me there because it was nearby. In India children are often sent to a convent school because the education there is supposed to be of high standards. They are sent there for the sake of their education, but very few Indians ever convert. There’s a very small Christian community. When it comes to religion, when it comes to food, music, or cinema, Indians like their own ways; they don’t change very much. Indians manage to slip back and forth between the modern world and the ancient world, the Indian world and the Western world, with a great ease, without feeling any strain. If there’s one characteristic of India is that it’s very inclusive; it’s not exclusive.
-Later on you went to university in Delhi. Was it very unusual to be a woman in an Indian university at that time?
-No; it was a women’s college that I went to. Both my

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