Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Book Reviews By NITISH S. RELE,
Vision and Wisdom

No Land’s Man” (190 pages; $22.95) by Aasif Mandvi; published by Chronicle Books (

We first interviewed Aasif Mandvi nearly two decades ago for another publication. At that time, the now-renowned actor/writer was struggling to gain a foothold. It’s heartening to note that the former Tampa resident has made it big in the world of TV, theater and movies. It is the journey that began way back in Bombay where he was born, then on to northern England to be raised, followed by teenage years in Tampa, and now a New Yorker, that the funny, creative and earnest Mandvi writes about in this debut book. The second-generation immigrant shines light on how boarding school bullies began to call him “Curry Pot.” There’s also the story about casting directors passing him over for not being “Indian” enough. Or the hilarious episode in college of reading the Koran at a Bible study group just so he could seduce a girl. Familial stories, and there are several of them, including his father’s penchant for “brunch,” are an integral part of the book. While relating his mother Fatima’s outrage at his dad Hakim using foul language, Mandvi notes, “Profanity is the chili pepper of language. If used by an idiot or a clod, it can overwhelm the discourse so the meaning is lost, but if used by a linguistic master chef, it can insert a piquant passion to the point where even though your ears may burn and you may want to rinse your mouth out, you cannot say it doesn’t sound delicious.” Even if you haven’t seen Mandvi in films such as “Million Dollar Arm,” “The Dictator” or “The Last Airbender,” this book is worth a read. And we promise it will be an entertaining one that will have you in splits as you rush to flip the pages.

Why India Matters” (290 pages; $25) by Maya Chadda; published by Lynne Rienner

Twenty years ago, no author would have dreamt of writing a book with this title. But ever since economic reforms were undertaken in the 1990s, there has been no looking back for India. As the William Patterson University political scientist notes, “India’s achievements as well as failures matter; they provide important insights in how culture, power, and economy continue to shape a country’s journey to modernity and wealth.” Chadda believes that deeply rooted cultural pluralism, intertwined with democracy and economic growth could prove to be a sustainable model of transformation into a modern state. To prove her point, she details past political and economic developments in the first four chapters, which at times may be arduous and long to stay focused. But this lay the groundwork for “Why India Matters.” However, it’s the last four chapters on India’s role in world politics, its strategic autonomy, soft power assets and the role of the Indian diaspora that the reader will enjoy. The author is convinced that in the 21st century, it is India’s rise that will make a mark on world events. “It will do so not only because of the hard power assets it will accumulate as it becomes affluent but also because of the living example it will provide – in both its achievements and failures – of how to think differently about prosperity, power and history.” Like India, Chadda is on the right track.

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