Indian. English

Indian. English

An Autobiography

Book - 2012
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Indian. English. is Jillian Haslam's memoir of growing up an English girl in post-colonial India. Her harrowing yet ultimately redemptive story of living in the dark squalid by-lanes of Calcutta, abused and misunderstood by many, recalls the darkest moments of Angela's Ashes and the inner turmoil of The Glass Castle. For every atrocity described in Indian. English., however, there is found a parallel kindness - a sacrifice, really - on the part of the poorest of the poor, who helped her family to survive. One cannot overlook those small, seemingly insignificant and mundane acts of human kindness. Within these humble people thrive a grace beyond description that literally saves lives every hour of every day. Such was the case with Jillian and her family, which suffered through the death of children, abject starvation, trauma and humiliation. In vivid detail, the author recounts how she learned to look for the positives embedded in the numerous challenges encountered on her path; and how to overcome adversity to be successful. The rich story of her life, of finding the road to success, and how she utilizes her wisdom and vision to help others through her foundation, vividly illustrates how and why Jillian Haslam inspires everyone she meets.
Publisher: London, New Generation Publishing,, 2012.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781908775009
Characteristics: 226 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.

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wendybradley
Feb 14, 2018

What an extraordinary story this one is. I had to pinch myself to remind myself that this writer was born in 1970, that she lived this life of extreme povery, hunger and degradation in the slums of modern day Calcutta not in some distant past. I supose if I ever thought about the British who stayed behind in India after Partition in 1947, I thought of them as elderly living in the hill country existing in genteel poverty. I had no idea that the Anglo-Indians, called by the author Indian.English, where looked down on by all Indians as lower or equal to the Untouchables. Nor did I understand that Anglo-Indian covers two different groups. Those born of two 'English' parents who in turn were each born of "English' parents make up one part of the definition of Anglo Indian. The other is made up of those who intermarried with the Indians (often way back in pre Victorian times), this group then tended to inter marry with other Anglo Indians and formed a different 'class'. Totally fascinating.

This book offers all sorts of insights into the life of people who despite being despised by those around them, have a strong Christian faith that seems to help them deal with the cruelties of life. The author somehow made her way from this, to eventually work her way up in banking industry and to discover she could immigrate to United Kingdom. Yes, a happy ending, but what awfulness she and her family suffered.

There is something rather odd about the writing in this book. I suspect it was published in India, and is concerned to somehow show Indians that despite all the bad things that happened that she and her family forgave them and looked for the good in people. It did what a good book should do and that is make me want to know more. The quality of the writing was not it strength, but the story made any weakness in writing of no importance.

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