Changing Equations
Shalini Grover
PUNJABI PARMESAN by Pallavi Aiyar Penguin Books, Delhi, 2015, 150 pp., 599
April 2015, volume 39, No 4

Indians who travel abroad or migrate internationally rarely write about the societies they intimately encounter and adopt as ‘home’. Contrastively, from the time of the colonial era, western writers have produced a copious and authoritative body of travelogues, fiction, and scholarship on the Indian subcontinent. Punjabi Parmesan offers compelling insights into Europe’s ongoing cultural and economic crisis. Immigrant paranoia, anti-Muslim sentiments, global inequalities, and climate change feature extensively. Punjabi Parmesan’s originality lies in continental Europe, particularly Belgium and Italy, being viewed through a comparative China-India framework. Prior to Belgium, Aiyar spent several years in China where she witnessed, first-hand, the country’s mammoth economic rise. Her knowledge of China and India as two ‘growing economies’ versus stagnant First World economies has promoted a rigorous analysis (‘from the rise of China, I now found myself with front row seats to the decline of Europe’: p. xii).

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