Parachute Radio on the Global Conversation has been dropping small packages of India down for our readers over the summer. As Radio Open Source host Christopher Lydon and colleague Paul McCarthy traversed India, they filed vivid shorts, vividly illustrated and decidedly ground level – toothbrushing techniques were not too quotidian for debate.
Now it is time for the parachutists to land and expand on Open Source. There, they have been producing podcasts of their encounters – with a historian, a novelist, a former driver, a social entrepreneur, and more – in which the fascinating talk is only part of the conversation and, in fact, inextricable from the changing audioscapes.
Just to sample:
“Brinda Adige, a self-starting social activist, in yellow sari, is our guide to the slum side of Bangalore and the virtual canyon between the public squalor and private affluence that are both hallmarks of the New India.
We’re in Lakshman Rau Nagar, one of several Bangalore slum districts that sprouted in the shrubbery alongside the info-tech boom two decades ago. Starting from a bridge over a vast open cesspool of human wastes, Brinda is making our path through what feel like opposites: tight-knit anarchy, foul stenches, brilliant rainbows of paint and fabric, acres of rubble next to dense clusters of shanties next to hand-crafted houses being rewired and gaudily repainted and redecorated, as we pass, by the artisan-squatters who live here.
Perhaps 10,000 families of high-tech service workers call this home: barbers, maids, drivers, baby-tenders, security guards, prostitutes, boot-leggers of all kinds, with of course their aged parents and dependent kids who are everywhere on the street, among the dead rats and live goats. The social atmosphere feels relaxed and, to the extent we visitors are noticed at all, welcoming. Most people seem absorbed in their individual projects, house-painting, baby-nursing, cookery or bicycle repair. Here as elsewhere you notice that in India stark borders of wealth and social class are crossed without fear, as they wouldn’t be in America or perhaps most societies. We are greeted with ‘what is your name?’ but never ‘what are you doing here?’ …”
Listen to Radio Open Source’s ongoing Real India series here. As you’ll see, it is also a continuation of a rich Year of India series of conversations from the 2009-2010 academic year.