ibnlive » Chat

4 pm Jun 29, 2012

On his travelogue on India

Chat with Author Charles Foster on his book 'In the hot unconscious - An Indian Journey' at 4 pm this friday.
14 questions answered
  • What is your impression about India and its people? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
  • Charles Foster Hello Shyam, and sorry to be late in joining the conversation. I love India. I didn't always. My first trip here was one of the most traumatic times of my life. That was entirely my fault. But since then, India has become tremendously important. This is a land of great riches. Its people have managed to hold on to so much of what is important. India has been a kind, gentle and patient teacher.
  • What was the most intriguing about India and its people? Asked by: Santhosh
  • Charles Foster Hello Santhosh. The most intriguing thing is India's capacity for forgiveness in the light of everything that has happened here. Of course generalisations are dangerous, and of course there are resentments, but it's nonetheless very striking.
  • How is the response to your book so far? Asked by: Honey
  • Charles Foster Hello Honey: it is early days for the book in India, but so far people are being very kind about it. It's always impossible to be objective about ones own books, and so I always wait very nervously for reviews. The reviews often show me things that I never dreamt were in the book. But so far, none of the things pointed out in the reviews are things that I'd want to keep out.
  • What inspired you to write the book? Asked by: Madhu
  • Charles Foster Hello Madhu. A conviction that the west badly and urgently needs what India can give, and a fascination about what the converstion between east and west might sound like.
  • What do you think is the biggest problem faced by India? Asked by: Pranav
  • Charles Foster Hello Pranav. It would presumptous for me to say. I'm not an India expert. But I'm distressed to see religious fundamentalism of all sorts.
  • Why did you chose such a topic for your book? Asked by: Sachin
  • Charles Foster Hello Sachin. The topic really chose me. The question of what Indian insights should mean to the West seemed so urgent that I couldn't help but write the book.
  • can you please tell me why you wrote such a book? Asked by: Gunjan
  • Charles Foster Hello Gunjan. Because it seemed to me to be urgent and important to set up a conversation and a relationship between the mystical traditions of the west and east. The west misses out dangerously if it misses out on what you've learned here. That doesn't mean that I'm starry-eyed and romantic about India: I'm really not.
  • Can you tell us your most memorable experience while travelling all over India? Asked by: Gillian
  • Charles Foster Hello Gillian. The extraordinary kindness of strangers. It has changed the way I think about the world.
  • Tell us one thing about India that hate the most and that you love the most. :) Asked by: Ruchi
  • Charles Foster Hello Ruchi: That I love: the kindness of strangers. That I hate: the angry eyes of bigots
  • Hi Charles : do you think the way you connected with the locals here made a difference to your writing. Asked by: aradhya
  • Charles Foster Hi Aradhya. Yes, massively. First, it cured me of the assumption that I understand much about anything. It's hard enough to know anything meaningful about the person you live with, let alone a stranger in a strange, distant place. India taught me how arrogant I was. And since then, I hope, I've approached people and my descriptions of people much more tentatively and respectfully.
  • Hi Charles : why this title for the book, In the hot Unconscious. Asked by: aradhya
  • Charles Foster Hi Aradhya: Indian philosophy and religion are great celebrations of the unconscious - that seething animal entity which rules us, and of which the West is so terrified. The land of India (as Hinduism knows so well) is itself an embodiment of the deities that represent the Unconscious. To travel open-eyed in India is therefore to meet and eat with the gods that war in our own heads. That war is a sticky, tropical, febrile business. And it's also pretty hot in bits of India.
  • Are you a spiritual person as the book is kind of leaning towards the same. It is not the run of the mill travelogue. How does it differ. Asked by: Amit
  • Charles Foster Hello Amit. I think we're all spiritual people. We can't help it. If we're human, we're spiritual. We can suppress the spiritual side of us for a while, but it'll catch up with us in the end. There's nothing that we can do which doesn't have spiritual consequences. Even going to the bathroom is a spiritual activity. So: since I'm a human, I'm spiritual. I'm also explicitly interested in exploring the spiritual - but that's something rather different.
  • What about the policy makers in India? and how do you see its growth in world.. Please be honest!! Asked by: Sankalp
  • Charles Foster Hello Sankalp. I'm honestly no expert on India, let alone on India politics. So I really can't comment on its policy makers. But its growth in the world is awesome, and likely to continue so. I just hope that it exports not only its electronic goods but also its philosophy, its gentleness and its grace.
  • "I went to India, was confused, and then came back." Did you find what you were looking for and did your confusion end? Asked by: Joshua
  • Charles Foster Hi Joshua. In the first phase of the book I was looking only for confirmation that my arrogant presumptions about the universe were right. I didn't find that. In the second phase I was less ambitious. I was looking for clues that might suggest where I should go next on the journey. I found those clues. But my confusion didn't end. I hope it never well. Isn't confusion part of the condition of live humans?

Hosted by

Charles Foster
Author, In the Hot Unconscious: an Indian Journey

More chats with:

Charles Foster
Author, In the Hot Unconscious: an Indian Journey

On his travelogue on India