mahmud rahman's pages

writer.translator

Category: fiction (Page 2 of 2)

Make believe

While speaking to a few dozen friends recently, I tried out a confession.  I said that I was not really who I claimed to be; I was not as old as they knew me and that I had stolen the identity of someone older, someone who had gone through a much richer vein of experiences than I.
     It was a joke, and it fell completely flat.  Only a few people knew the references.  None seemed to care.
     I was making fun of two figures from the writing world who had just been in the news.  James Frey had been exposed by The Smoking Gun for having exaggerated many chapters in his life for his memoir A Million Little Pieces.  And J.T. Leroy had been exposed as not the bad boy male writer he claimed to be, but a woman who had apparently done none of what the author had claimed.
     Perhaps we writers get more excited by what other writers do than most people.
     But I understand the impulse to make believe.

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The end for rickshaws in Kolkata?

For a short minute this summer, it looked like the end had finally come for rickshaws in Kolkata.  But the latest news suggests that the 19th century relic has found a new lease of life.
    In the streets of the capital of West Bengal, more than 20,000 men, mostly poverty-stricken migrants from Bihar, pull human beings on a two-wheeled carriage, walking on their feet.  Among themselves, they share the income from 6,000 licensed rickshaws — of course after paying the owners their ounce of flesh.  This is the only part of the world where humans still pull rickshaws with their feet on the ground.  Rickshaws originally came from China, but after the 1949 revolution, that degrading form of labor was done away with.  
    I have heard many times of plans to do away with Kolkata’s rickshaws, but each time, nothing comes of the effort.

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