Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fiction Writing : A Serious Business.

Wall Street Journal runs a series on how "creators" go about their work. A recent one on American author Philip Roth ( caught my eye and made me reflect on our common understanding of how writers, fiction writers especially, do their craft. Its easy to think of them as exotic, eccentric, idiosyncratic, anything except methodical. We do not think of a fiction writer as doing something akin to a desk job. It never crosses most of our minds that classics would need subject matter research on the professions of their characters.

When Ayn Rand wrote "Fountainhead" with the protagonist as an architect she consulted extensively with Frank Lloyd Wright, yes Wright himself, no less, to get her basics right.  When Roth's character is portrayed as a javelin thrower Roth studied sports DVD'd to get it right. For avid readers of classical fiction Mario Vargas Llosa is well known. I developed an interest in him after the Nobel Prize, especially when I read that he was an uncommon intellectual whose politics, his economic ideas, was pretty much 'republican'. When I hungrily bought his acclaimed books I chanced upon a lesser known collection of essays "A writer's reality". Llosa details how he did research for his celebrated works. The amount of reading, historical research, local research etc gave a wonderful background flavor to his masterpieces.

Llosa's own favorite novel amongst what he wrote was "The war of the end of the world" based on the suppression of Canudos rebellion by Brazilian government ( He was especially interested in how intellectuals, the progressive types, kow-towed the government. He reads avidly and then finally visits Canudos area. In between he had practically re-written the novel, in an era without word-processors.

I had read Irving Wallace's "The Prize", centered around the Nobel Prize, long back. Then one day in a roadside book shop I discovered his "The writing of one novel". The blurb on the cover for "Prize" would state that Wallace took 14 years to write his book. Only when I read his other book did I understand why. Irving got the idea for the plot one evening during an interview with a Nobel committee member who freely shared the inside controversies are that considered sacrosanct. His "writing of one novel", very rich with anecdotes and literary trivia, is practically a biography of a how a book was written, how the characters were fleshed out etc. Wallace cites how Sinclair Lewis wrote "Arrowsmith". "Arrowsmith" portrays an idealistic doctor. Lewis is said to have influenced many an aspiring doctor with that idealistic version. Wallace says that Sinclair Lewis made detailed maps of the hospitals, labs and towns he portrayed (no google earth!!). Wallace quotes Somerset Maugham from "Great Novels and their Novelists", "Tolstoy and Balzac, wrote, rewrote and endlessly corrected".

Jhumpa Lahiri often impressed me with her detailed descriptions of the environs. Whether its Boston or Rome her detailed imagery of the land, the cuisines, the customs etc are a delight to read. V.S. Naipaul would bring to words details about the texture of soil in Pakistan, squalid conditions of tenements in India and Indonesia. Remember he wrote those books when digital cameras, voice recorders, Iphone cameras were not there. I cannot even fathom the painful notes taking.

Also seldom we consider these writers to follow a "routine" in writing. Philip Roth, John Updike, Martin Amis and many others maintain a strict regimen of regular working hours when they are working on a novel. In an interview Updike says that Bernard Shaw had a 5 page quota for each day ( Wallace gives a rich trivia on the writing habits of writers "I realized that most successful writers invest their work with professionalism. From Balzac, who worked six to twelve hours a day, and Flaubert, seven hours a day, and Conrad, eight hours a day, to Maugham, who worked four hours a day...Hemingway, six hours a day, these authors were uniformly industrious". Ah what a conclusion who would associate the word "industrious" with creative fiction writers of the caliber of Maugham and Balzac.

Ayn Rand took 14 years to complete and publish her magnum opus "Atlas Shrugged". Will Durant's masterpiece "The Story Of philosophy" sen out of his lectures took 14 years to reach completion and every page is testimony to a teacher par-excellence. "The story of Philosophy" remains my most loved book.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bill Clinton: Ultimate Comeback Kid.

A cat has nine lives but Bill Clinton's political lives outnumber that. I've a sentimental attachment to Clinton. He was President when I came to USA. Things were roaring back then. Cold War was conclusively over. Economy was on a joy ride. "How high is high" was the question back then. The government had a surplus. Ah those were halcyon days. Then we had 8 years of a different roller coaster ride followed by a candidate who sailed into the White House on just speeches and fatuous phrases.

Not too long back Bill Clinton was relegated to the dog house. The Clinton era in Democratic politics is over wrote pundits who were busy worshipping at the altar of "The One". The "man from Hope" was seen as bygone era. Reams of newsprint was devoted to praising how Obama "took down the Clinton dynasty without raising his voice".

Ted Kennedy exulted in endorsing a new Kennedy-esque magic. That endorsement was the most rich with irony. Ted Kennedy who raised a banner of revolt against a sitting President, Carter, from his own party and remains the ultimate dynasty was decrying the Clintons. What is worse it was Bill Clinton who helped Teddy win a re-election when his prospects grew rcky. Ah! well even Massachusetts wanted to say "enough".

The lowest point for Bill Clinton during the heated 2008 primaries was the South Carolina primary. South Carolina democratic primary had 51% Afro-Americans who came to see a historic choice in Barack Obama after his Iowa Caucus win. Hillary was advised to concede South Carolina. She pushed ahead. Bill Clinton who had jumped into the fray after Iowa to rescue New Hampshire had started losing his temper. Given who he was his statements and events attracted attention. A wannabe reporter from CNN (Jessica Yellin) riled him up at a SC event with meaningless question about his reaction to what some democratic operative had said. Bill Clinton, with his face going red fell for the trap and ripped into the question. CNN milked it for what it was worth. The press was agog that the big dog was losing his legendary touch for politics. Afro-Americans who thought Bill Clinton was their own deserted him by the droves accusing him very unfairly of being racist. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison who once famously called Clinton "America's first black president" kind of took back the accolade by framing it within a context that was ludicrous. This was Bill Clinton's nadir.

As Hillary's candidacy floundered the press salivated at the downfall, more of Bill than Hillary. From the word go it was assumed that will Bill Clinton to mentor her Hillary could not go wrong. Bill Clinton was the only two term Democratic president after FDR compared to many two-term presidents from GOP. He was considered the ultimate political animal. The Democratic machinery was thought to be in his pocket. Al Gore had slid into oblivion, John Kerry was a bad dream. When Barack, with all due respect, rode to the cusp of a historical candidacy vowing to be an "apolitical" politician, the I-am-Not-Clinton rhetoric, "change" candidate Bill Clinton was thought of as a ghost from the past. America was ready to move on with its new archangel.

More humiliation followed Barack's nomination. When Hillary was considered for VP the constant chatter was how Bill Clinton would be a distraction. Bill was thought to be a complete misfit within the 'no-drama' obama team. Hillary haters snickered about Bill Clinton's business deals, rumors floated about donors to his Presidential library. Bill and Hillary were portrayed as sore-losers. When Hillary was picked for Secretary of State again the snickering and snide remarks about Bill Clinton started.

What a difference a year makes. Barack Obama had scolded the Clinton's for the health care debacle in 1992. In particular Obama decried their "secretive process" that, in his view, unleashed rumor mongering and finally caused the failure. When he watched his attempt being derailed with, ahem negotiations with union leaders in white house and back door deals with reluctant senators he finally turned to Bill Clinton. Clinton went to the congress to speak what he alone could do with unmatched finesse, plain common sense. Then came the North Korea rescue. Again it was Clinton.

Welcome to 2010. We are a week away from the mid-terms. Barack Obama's approval rating is hovering at 44%, same as what Bill Clinton's or Reagan's was at this point in their presidencies. Democrats are facing a voter backlash. Lo Behold who comes to their rescue. Its good old Bill Clinton. Democrats are not just flocking to him, they flock to Bubba pointedly avoiding the preening Professor Obama. Obama who filled stadiums in 2008 with his words is now seen as out-of-touch elitist. Voters dont have patience for pointless lecturing. In comes Bubba, the man who presided over the longest economic expansion in recent memory. The man who could remind his audience that it was a democrat who balanced the budget last. Bill Clinton is front and center in this election jetting from coast to coast. He is again written about like he is the maestro of campaigning. He sure is the maestro. Watch his campaigns. This is a man who is born to campaign.

Above all what is sweet vindication for Bill Clinton is that everyone including Obama is now talking about how Obama should try to become a Clinton who rebounded from a mid term loss to win his second term. Without exception every democrat is hoping Obama will take a leaf from Clinton's playbook of moving  to the center and repeating in 2012 what Clinton did in 1996.

Ah but then can Obama become a Clinton and is 2012 the same as 1996. My bet is neither will happen. Bill Clinton was a center-right common sense candidate. Unemployment was at 4% in 1996. Economy was roaring. Budget had surplus. No wars. Barack Obama is a center left ideologue who has no record of making any compromises. If unemployment climbs down to 7% thats a miracle. Budget deficit is exploding. The cost of many bills, especially health care is yet to hit our pocketbooks. I'd safely predict Bill Clinton will remain the only two-term democratic president after FDR. And that may be good for America. Oh wait Barack has one last hope. Sarah Palin and her tea party.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nano Car: Is It Innovation?

Amongst the many genre of articles and books I read I usually keep away from one type by choice. I am intellectually uncomfortable with books or articles that talk about the end of American primacy. Its not because I find the topic disagreeable its just that often such books or articles are disappointing from the perspective of theory and logic. The latest is Time's cover story by Fareed Zakaria, "How to restore the American dream". The article, complete with a graphic depicting a toppled Statue of Liberty, gives some well reasoned cautioning about some challenges facing America today. Then Zakaria slides into tropes comparing China and India with America. Curiously Zakaria, just like the Economist did a few months back, cites the Tata Nano car as sign of innovation taking off in India. He writes:

"Two weeks ago, for example, I sat in a Nano, the revolutionary car being produced by Tata Motors in India. It's a nice, comfortable midgetmobile, much like Mercedes-Benz's Smart car, except that rather than costing $22,000, it costs about $2,400. Tata plans to bring it to the U.S. in two to three years. Properly equipped with air bags and other safety features, it will retail at $7,000. Leave aside the car itself, whose price will surely put a downward pressure on U.S. carmakers. Just think about car parts. Every part in the Nano is made to global standards but manufactured in India at about a tenth of what it would cost in America. When Ford orders its next set of car parts, will they be made in Michigan or Mumbai? "

Zakaria, a most respected columnist and commentator, is just fooling people here with a sleight of hand thats insulting. Comparing a no frills Nano (NO airbags, single windshield wiper, only one side rear view mirror, no air conditioner) with a Smart car that is laden with safety features and comfort features and THEN to cry foul on price is just intellectual chicanery. The Smart car comes with dual airbags, side curtain airbags, ABS, Acceleration Skid Control (ASC) etc etc. 

The crux of Zakaria's article was the threat to the middle class lifestyle in USA. Its unfortunate that he forgot to mention why American cars made in Detroit cost so much. Amongst other factors the one relevant  to us is the Auto Union contracts that ensure pay packages that would make our eyes pop, then add on the luxurious benefit, the almost near impossibility of firing a union worker and others. Compare that to a Nano assembly worker benefits I am sure the latter would not be thrilled. Note, this is not only for the car manufacturers, every ancillary unit related to car manufacturing is unionized and enjoy those benefits. So while Tata may yet pay a good wage the workers in ancillary industries, I am sure, slog at pitiful wages.

While some innovation did go into making the car, the design is not 100% Indian. The most important cost savings came from re-designing the conventional drive shaft by GKN involved drawing in Engineers from its Italian and German operations. Then of course there is the Wal-Mart philosophy of squeezing cost out of every supplier. Zakaria glides by all that.

Much of the cost comes from sheer "wage arbitration" of manufacturing in a country where regulations are lax concerning mandatory safety for the product, workers are ill-protected at work, related insurance costs are next-to-nothing. US car manufacturers have to abide by umpteen legislative mandates, workers are covered by exhaustive protections against injury by law (and the laws are enforced). Zakaria forgets to note that the average salary of IT workers have increased in quantum over 8 years. The labor costs for manufacturing are still depressed owing to multiple factors and that does give an undue advantage.

Would it better for a manufacturing employee to be working in USA or India? Only a fool would answer 'India'. The Nano is no industry re-defining innovation like Ipod. 

Thomas Friedman, endless cheerleader for India and China, had another perspective. In a country plagued by pathetic roadways, creaking infrastructure, very high road accident fatalities and above all high pollution, he felt that a "Nano car is the last thing India needs".

Also what Zakaria fails to mention is Ratan Tata's travails with Mamata Banerjee regarding his Singur factory. Something that could not have happened in US anyday, not even under the current closet-socialist Barack Obama. Unfair comparisons, unfair conclusions, plain intellectual dishonesty.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

America's Geniuses: John Dabiri and a culture of nourishing excellence

Every year in September the MacArthur Foundation announces a grant for 20-40 American citizens cutting across disciplines. The grant is $500,000 with NO strings attached, as the foundation site says "MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations and reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore". This grant is also often called "MacArthur Genius grants" and the 'fellows' are also called 'geniuses'. 

For 30 years the foundation has selected 'geniuses'. The 2010 fellows were noted for ethnic diversity, number of women, diversity in the fields. The foundation press release notes "working across a broad spectrum of endeavors, the Fellows include a stone carver, a quantum astrophysicist, a jazz pianist, a high school physics teacher, a marine biologist, a theater director, an American historian, a fiction writer, an economist, and a computer security scientist. All were selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future".

The youngest of them is John Dabiri, born to Nigerian Immigrants. John Dabiri  is. "Associate Professor in the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories and the Option of Bioengineering at Caltech". Check out that hyperlink in Dabiri's name which is his page in Caltech's website. The short biographical sketch speaks, to use a cliche, volumes. Just ponder at the name of what he is professor of, a very unique, hybrid intersection of Engineering (aeronautical engineering) and biology. His research area is studying jelly fishes and trying to apply those principles to aeronautical engineering. His M.S. was in aeronautical engineering and his PhD was in bio-engineering. Dabiri was a 'tenured' professor by age 29. A 'tenured' professorship is such a big deal in America and it takes a genius to become one at 29. 

His curriculum vitae is interesting to check out for the scholarships he had won. The scholarships, Government and Private sector, have really fueled him to higher echelons of academic achievements. The scholarships, apart from recognizing talent reward him financially thus enabling to study at the best schools of the country.What really impressed me is that "Popular Science" magazine identified him as "Brilliant Scientist" in 2008. In 2009 he was awarded "Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers" (PECASE). 2010 he is declared a 'genius' by MacArthur foundation. 

This country has a tradition of "FERRETING" out excellence, "RECOGNIZING" talent, "REWARDING" merit. Whether its MacArthur foundation or Intel's talent search or Pulitzers or National Book Awards and so many, many other programs that have all become sheer institutions in their own right. What is most important is that over many decades these programs have been untouched by scandals or nepotism or favoritism or even censorship. 

Annette Gordon-Reed, Historian at Harvard Law School (oh look at that alone what is a historian doing at a law school) shocked the literary world and America in general by publishing the damning "Hemingses of Monticello". That book nailed the most venerated founding father Thomas Jefferson for having fathered an illegitimate child with his Afro-american slave, Sally Hemings. The foundation rewarded for THAT. She is rewarded for debunking, or humanizing, a founding father of the nation. (let it be noted that this infomation about Jefferson is cited without fail in the official tours at Jefferson's historic home at Monticello. Good luck expecting that at Nehru's Teenmurthi). 

A week after Dabiri won the award he was featured on NPR (National Public Radio, a popular non-partisan channel). Noting his Afro-American background the interviewer queried him on a very important sociological aspect. Within the Afro-american community and other ethnic minorities, attempts by children to excel academically could get mischaracterized as trying to 'act white'. Here is the exchange in full (

MARTIN: Did you ever confront the challenge that some kids of color tell us that they confront, of being viewed as, you know, not cool or a nerd because of your interest in science?Mr. DABIRI: Yes, the phrase was typically acting white. You know, if you were someone who did your homework and spoke with correct grammar. I hope that that sort of attitude is waning. I don't know if it is. But that is something that I think discourages a lot of students. And so what we need are just more role models that show that you can be interested in science and engineering and still be a normal person who enjoys everyday things. You don't have to be a geek.

When George Bush wanted to use 'faith based initiatives' to address some social programs he was derided by the liberal intelligentsia, many shrieked in horror "separation of church and state, oh my god". Here is Dabiri talking about his church "We have a mentoring program at our church out here in California called The Faith Foundation. And many of the students in the area are from under-represented groups, and so we hope that the impact of our program will be to continue investing in the next generation of scientists and engineers."

Dabiri very warmly remembered his 4th grade teacher, "I remember my fourth grade teacher Cathy Kemp who really encouraged me in my classes. She encouraged me and I think made me believe that I was smart and so I took that and sort of owned that and tried to live up to the expectations that she had placed on me, even as a fourth grader".

Was I joking about the "no strings attached" condition for the $500,000?On national radio Dabiri cheekily said "I do know a small portion of that will go towards swimming lessons, because ironically, as much as I enjoy studying the ocean, I can't swim."

This is the bed rock of what makes America what it is today. Only the intellectually feeble would brush aside these and take refuge in bromides like "oh the country is rich", "oh the country is rich in minerals", "oh they drain the talent from other countries". For them I've no answer if they are willfully blind

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Festival and an Immigration Debate

Yesterday we had a Fall Festival in our neighborhood. It was a typical fair with Funnel cakes, boat rides, stalls, stilt walkers and singing. I wanted to buy a bottle of water and found a stall selling it at $1 (very reasonable). As I glanced the table I got confused. I saw a book "Hiroshima", a bestseller on the bombing of Hiroshima, leaflets in Spanish, buttons saying 'no stinking paper'. I asked a guy at the stall what the "no stinking paper" button meant. He replied "what do you think of legal immigrants and undocumented immigrants?". I said "Well, I am an immigrant and I've no problem with legal immigrants but illegal immigration is different".

The guy then started off "we prefer the term undocumented immigrants". I just gave a smile that he understood. He continued "I understand you think its just semantics, but the word 'undocumented' carries a better connotation than 'illegal'". I told him "if somebody breaks into your home would you call him a 'thief' or an 'uninvited guest'". He said "of course "I'd call him a thief". Having understood the implication of what he just conceded he pressed further. "this country is engaged in illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan". I knew where he was going with this patently idiotic analogy. I replied "if you think this is a dishonorable country why not choose some other country that would conform to your ethics for these demands". I also saw a book on economics on the table. He then changed tack "do you know how immigrants 'contribute' to the economy". I demurred "hhmm thats debatable". His repartee was "oh you are watching Bill O'reilly and Fox News". I said "you are now assuming my television watching habits". Incidentally I watch more of CNN than Fox. I've seen immigration rallies with placards saying "no human being is illegal". I felt like screaming "the question is not about your legality of being 'homo-sapiens' rather about how you entered the country".

Take a step back and reflect on the greatness of USA. Nowhere in the world can an ethnic community put up a stall in a community fair and brazenly ask for illegal immigration to be accepted. No other country in the world would accept an ethnic community with a stall that uses a language different from the local language. To rub it in the stall representative has a dim view of the country's foreign policy displaying books that cast a dubious light on the country. No other country in the world gives citizenship by virtue of being born on its soil. No other country in the world makes it illegal for any agency, law enforcement or otherwise (schools, libraries etc), to ask the immigration status of those who seek service or help.

What completely angered me was not just his criticism of Iraq war but bracketing Hiroshima (Pearl Harbor) and Afghanistan (9/11).  Most Americans think Afghanistan is justified war. Even if one were to agree with his very malicious reasoning, US will be out of Iraq by 2011 so what do we do with the 14 million illegal immigrants at that point, what rationale will they cling to then?

The economic contributions of illegal immigrants is a very contentious debate that rests not just on 'economics' but in a very swampy land. John McCain, god bless the Maverick, in a speech for Immigration reform that would help provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, bravely asked his largely White American audience, "who amongst you would do the jobs they do". This is what is called as 'contribution'. But who pays for illegal immigrants going into Emergency Care and availing themselves of medical care? Why is America held to impossible and convoluted logic of human rights and compelled to provide education to children of illegal immigrants? Who pays for that? We are told children should not be victimized for the fault of their parents. Very laudable objective but get real. In a country where schools depend on property taxes its no wonder this causes friction. And we are not talking few tens or hundreds of children. No Emergency room attendant can ask an incoming patient for status of residency or even ability to pay. Who pays for that? In states like California, Texas, New Jersey, New York this is a big problem.

I support limiting the 14th amendment, citizenship by birth, to legal residents and citizens. The term 'anchor babies' does have a meaning. People, not many, do come here just to give birth, claim citizenship for their new born and in turn cite them as reason to be allowed to stay. I am aware of the roots of 14th Amendment but that scenario does not apply here in this debate.

The argument that I detest most is the cheeky "oh well this is a country of immigrants, they just came here before us". Yes, this is a country of immigrants but it has acquired a culture and character that has made it prosperous unlike any other country in history. We come seeking the fruits of American culture. For those who sneer at American culture and morals my simple answer is, "you are free to leave". I came to America to be American. I came to America to be assimilated not to contribute to islands of ethnic pride. Yes I love this country to be an English speaking country. There are parts of America where an American cannot get a job without knowing Spanish (knowing it would not be sufficient either). We are looking at a problem.

There are many other questions on immigration debate. What kind of immigrants does America need? Should America liberalize immigration to attract skilled immigrants? Can we reform the quagmire that the Green card process has become to retain much needed talent in USA?

America is at crossroads. A blog, as I repeatedly say, is no place for elaborate theses. This is only to tickle a readers intellect and give a flavor what I think.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From Mao to Mozart: China embraces the West

Recently I watched "From Mao to Mozart” an Oscar winning documentary about the historic visit of American Violinist Isaac Stern to China in 1980. The timing, the choice of Western Classical musician, the ethnicity of Stern etc all make it very interesting. Isaac Stern, a Jew born in Ukraine, migrated to USA as a child and trained in violin. Amongst the lovers of Hollywood Musicals he is known for his contribution to “Fiddler on the roof” (a nice musical set in the backdrop of anti-semitism and pogroms in Czarist Russia).

The "cultural revolution" started by Mao ended completely only with his death in 1976 and left thousands dead in its wake. The terror it unleashed on the intellectuals, in typical communist fashion, crippled Chinese intelligentsia for decades. The documentary features a violin teacher who testifies how he was imprisoned and how his family was threatened. Deng Xioping is often credited with pushing China to embrace the West unlike Soviet Russia, albeit in a very controlled manner especially on political matters. Unlike Kruschev's famous speech to the Russian parliament denouncing Stalin and laying bare the horrors of Stalinism, Deng left Mao's halo untouched but reversed critical policies.

What surprised me about the documentary was why did China decide to invite a Western Classical musician and have him perform to packed halls across China and allow this critical documentary to be made. The Chinese, unlike Soviet Russia, did not have any traditional linkage to Western Classical music. China did not have a Stravinsky or a Tchaikovsky. Western Classical is as alien to Chinese as it is to Indians. Why would the Chinese government promote something that has no roots to the country's cultural ethos that too barely 4 years after the death of its founding father? I don't know.

Isaac Stern goes to China with a very open mind that is typically American. He is curious, he is wary too but he is ready to embrace the country and goes all out to charm his chinese audience. The best part of the documentary is when the teacher in Isaac Stern emerges. He chides a performer for not using the bow on a violin completely along its length. He tells the student how to use the bow along its entire length like a flowing motion used in table tennis, a sport most chinese are familiar with. It is during this tour that Stern identifies Wang Jian who would later become a world famous cellist.

Unlike Soviet Russia that not just viewed the west with suspicion but made any contact with west dangerous for its citizens, China allowed western ideas to seep in and eagerly engaged with the west. Of course they are two very different countries, different intellectual traditions and at 1950 very different in their economic situations. 

Today the NY philharmonic and other opera houses go to China to hunt for talent. Whether its Lang Lang or Yo Yo Ma or budding star of Metropolitan Opera Shenyang the Chinese have arrived on the scene of west's most prized bastion, western classical music (See my earlier blog 

Li Cunxin China's most famous Ballet dancer and a product of Mao's cultural revolution, later emigrated to USA (where else) and wrote his autobiography, aptly titled, "Mao's last dancer", its now a major motion picture of the same name. 

Isaac Stern's sense of humor, the total absence of any condescension, the teacher in him etc make the documentary very watchable. I mentioned his Jewish heritage as a surprising factor in his visit to China because Indian communists would have howled from the rooftops if a Jewish musician came to India.