Posted by: cochinblogger | August 4, 2010

Of Guns and Puffed Rice

Last year I bought a book called A Marriage to India by Frieda Hauswirth Das. I think I read a review in a newspaper that aroused my interest. The book is written by a Swiss lady who went to the U.S. to study in the 1920s or so. There she met an Indian student, whom she married. The couple come to India after their studies. Frieda’s husband, Saran, belonged to an influential family from Orissa. His dream was to start a sugar mill in Orissa.

The book offers fascinating insights into how Westerners look at India. Frieda is knowledgeable about and respectful of India’s artistic, cultural, and spiritual heritage, and sympathetic to her people, and yet she fails to reconcile herself to India. Her Indian sojourn ends dramatically in heartbreak in the jungles of Orissa.

I shall have more to say about this book in future posts, but for now, let me offer a tidbit:

“Dr. Bose helped himself to a big plate of muri — the puffed rice that some American breakfast food company ‘invented’ some years ago. It isn’t shot from a gun in India — nothing half so dramatic — it is quite simply rice placed on heated sand.”

Muri, of course, is familiar to any Calcuttan; it’s a favorite Bengali snack. The Dr. Bose in the excerpt is none other than the scientist Dr. J. C. Bose.

I found it amusing that the American method of manufacture involves a gun. Just what accounts for the widespread American love of guns?

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  1. It is indeed a fascinating book. You gave me a copy, and I have lent it out to others too.

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