Losing Hindustan – A review of  The Loss of Hindustan – The Invention of India

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh | Mekong Review | November, 2020

The first time somebody called me a Hindustani was in 2004, in a small village in Pahang on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, not far from the tropical Malayan rainforest, not far from the warm waters of the South China Sea.

‘Asal dari mana?’, where are your origins, a middle-aged Malay man asked me. I was twenty-seven then and, having grown up in neighbouring Singapore, an equally race-conscious country, was well accustomed to such interrogations. They usually reflected earnest attempts to understand ancestry and culture, yet to be blemished by the snarky ‘Where are you from?’ of the nativist zeitgeist.

‘Orang India’, an Indian.

But you don’t look Indian. Indians have darker skin.

My dad is from the south, my mum is from the north; she has lighter skin.

From the north? Oh, you are Hindustani.

Originally published in Mekong Review. Read the full article here