Anand Giridharadas writes the “Currents” column for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times online. He is the author of India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Michigan, he worked in Bombay as a management consultant until 2005, when he began reporting from that city for the Herald Tribune and the Times. He now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Where are you from?
That's an interesting question. Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Bombay; America; India. All of them and none of them.
Who are your favorite writers?
V.S. Naipaul, above all. And James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Sudhir Kakar, Theodore Zeldin, Amartya Sen, David Foster Wallace.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Naipaul's India trilogy.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Jazz and blues, playing them and listening to them; food, cooking it and eating it; open-ended travel; small towns in warm places; art and design; hearing life stories.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
The advice to write. Or perhaps the advice from my parents to hold on a little bit longer, to give India a fuller try, when I wanted to leave it a month after arriving in 2003.
What is your favorite quote?
From The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning ....So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
What is the question most commonly asked by your readers? What is the answer?
Q. Where do you get the ideas for your columns? A. Although my columns are about the outer world, I suppose that my method is to pay close attention to myself as I move through that world. I pay attention to what most excites and fascinates and angers me in a particular week; I pay attention to what threads of discussion keep coming up in conversation with my friends. When the time comes to choose a subject, the decision is often self-evident: there is something that seems, by its own strength, to have dominated my consciousness that week, a question that needs to be explored further through an essay, an intellectual attempt.
What inspired you to write your first book?
There was an unmistakable feeling all around me in India that we were living through a revolution. You don't get to live through revolutions very often. When I began to write for the newspaper in India, I began, subconsciously, to prepare a book. I would sit on my bed on the weekends with a pile of others' books on Indian culture and history and politics, and absorb everything I could so that I would be able to write my own someday. But what inspired me above all was the simple human drama of what was unfolding all around me: a country that had seemed stagnant and frozen to me in childhood was now erupting in dreams.
Where do you write?
At home. I don't like coffee shops or libraries or other people's homes. I can do other things in such places, but I like to do my writing at home, which is at present at a long Indian table that I had made from a pair of old doors. I began writing my book on Carmichael Road in Bombay; wrote most of it in a village called Verla, in Goa; finished the first draft at my parents' house outside Washington, D.C.; and polished it into its final condition in Cartagena, Colombia, and Cambridge, Massachusetts