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We know Arundhati Roy as one of the most successful Indian literary authors who still writes and creates in India. After receiving the Man Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel The God of Small Things, she began writing socially critical essays – first encouraged by the India-Pakistan nuclear arms race, later by environmental issues, indigenous struggles, the anti-caste movement, the minority position of Muslims in India, as well as the turbulent situation in Kashmir. She stays in touch with all these topics, not only on paper but also on the field. She also regularly writes and publicly talks about them. Last year her essays from the past twenty years were published in an extensive collection entitled My Rebellious Heart.

Roy originates from the state of Kerala, she is the daughter of a Malayalam Syrian Christian and a Bengali, and therefore does not belong to any caste herself. She left home when only sixteen years old and went her own way. After her studies she worked as an architect, then in the field of film as a screenwriter. In the period after receiving the Booker award, she did not rush with the next book and did not concern herself too much with the constant speculations of the literary market about when she will publish a new novel, as she is employed by a number of topics that she often finds more urgent. She is reluctant to comment on her reputation as a literary star and does not really consider herself one despite the fact that this is undoubtedly the case. She talks much more passionately about political topics that occupy her mind at a certain moment.

As such, she is often considered persona non grata by the Indian government of the BJP (Indian People’s Party) and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is a party that has won a majority in parliament over the past decade, building its success on the nationalist idea of Hindutva, based on a desire for Indian cultural, national, religious and linguistic unity, an extreme form of ethnic absolutism that exalts Hindus and Hinduism. The BJP government openly supports mob violence against minorities, especially Muslims, and in practice maintains the divisions of the caste system and the resulting violence. The nationalism of the BJP in relation to the Muslim minority and Kashmir is also one of the central themes of Roy’s latest novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness from 2017.

In the spring, images of the Indian government’s catastrophic response to the epidemic spread in the media all over the world, when Modi announced the country’s complete lockdown for 21 days just four hours in advance, much to the surprise of migrant workers. He stopped public transport and shut down all services, forcing a huge number of them to return thousands of miles away to their home villages on foot or by bicycle. Many of them were arrested for violating the lockdown, many died on the way due to exhaustion, and the infected spread the virus to all parts of the country. Among them were many Muslims who had survived the pogroms in Delhi only a month earlier.

Roy also joined them with a press card at the time and published an article in early April entitled The Pandemic Is A Portal, in which she writes that the first infected people in India were discovered as early as the end of January, but the government delayed taking any action due to Donald Trump’s visit in February, to whom Modi promised a turnout of one million people at a sports stadium in Gujarat. Roy describes the pandemic as a phenomenon that has often forced people to break with the past and re-imagine the world. This pandemic, in her opinion, is a portal between one world and another.

In times of a pandemic, when governments around the world gravitating towards authoritarianism are putting more and more freedoms under threat, it is also worth focusing on countries and continents that are less often covered by our media and on public intellectuals who stand out with their work and unwaveringly critical attitude. Reading Roy’s answers, we may find that, as was often the case in the period of the Non-Aligned Movement, we can look beyond the West for similar struggles and reflections on the state of the world to inspire us.

We spoke to the author while she was finishing cooking at her home in Delhi. When we sent her the interview for authorization, she was already in Kashmir, which she visits regularly.

We talk amid the ongoing pandemic that has affected all the world. What we heard from India at the outbreak of the pandemic was the sudden lockdown and the plight of daily workers who were returning home from the cities. Then you wrote an essay called Pandemic is a portal. Do you believe we are anywhere near the other side of the portal yet?

In India, the lockdown was the strictest, people were caught without notice and had to walk home. It was like a military curfew. More than ten million working class people were stranded in cities with no food, money or shelter. They had to walk thousands of kilometres home to their villages. No transport was available. Everything was shut down, the supply chains were broken, which resulted in an economic crisis. Right now, we are at a stage like many countries but on a worse scale. The GDP shrunk by 33 percent. Millions are out of work. Reports say the only country that did worse was Peru.

The only thing is that somehow, I mean, I’m not in any way a virologist or anything, but it seems as though the number of people dying of it proportionately are less than in Europe and the US. But you know the thing is in India you have no way of telling, because there are so many deaths from tuberculosis, there are deaths in rural areas, you just don’t know what’s going on, so it’s very hard to say.

Anything I say or any move I make, there is that constant apprehension about what direction this is going to take. But at the same time, when all your friends and comrades and peers and people who are being picked up every day, some of them being held in prison for years, I can’t spend too much time being worried about myself.

How it is to be a public intellectual who criticizes the government and is thus a target of constant threats and attacks, I imagine that during Corona this has gotten even more difficult?

The situation that India is in today, none of us in our living memory have felt so threatened. In many ways the violences in India have been cultural violences, like the violence of caste for example. But today we are looking at a situation where we seem to be heading in a very frightening direction. Personally speaking, every day the number of people being arrested, and the kinds of people being arrested are coming closer and closer and closer to someone like myself. Even yesterday a few of us were addressing a press conference about how many people are being picked up and taken to jail under these new sedition laws and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act which is not a new law but it is a very loosely worded law which allows new forms of interpretation that allows activists, lawyers, journalists and writers to be called “intellectual terrorists” and be arrested and held without bail for months and sometimes years before charges have even been framed. Often, they don’t know what they are being accused of.

You have been attacked for your writing for the past twenty years. Has it gotten easier to deal with these backlashes with time and does the fact that you are a female writer makes things worse?

For me personally it’s always a balancing act because in some ways perhaps I am protected by having a kind of an international profile, but at the same time I am also attacked for that. Anything I say or any move I make, there is that constant apprehension about what direction this is going to take. But at the same time, when all your friends and comrades and peers and people who are being picked up every day, some of them being held in prison for years, I can’t spend too much time being worried about myself.

As a female, when I first started writing, I think the attacks were far more sexists. Even now there is a sense that you can’t tell if it’s because you are female. I get attacked for being an independent, non-aligned writer, but often that independence is what allows me to take the positions I take. For example, in My Seditious Heart, if you’ve read the long essay that I wrote on the debate between Gandhi and Ambedkar and their views on caste, that is the essay that probably touches the most sensitive nerve in India. And actually, nobody who is involved in any institution could have written that essay, because they would have been punished immediately. So, it has to be written by someone like me who does not have a job, does not work at a university, who is somewhat able to freely say things like that.

Another sensitive issue is the Muslims in India and the Kashmir situation. We heard about the massive protests on the streets of India last winter against the new Citizenship Amendment Act concerning Muslims in India, but do people also protest in the case of Kashmir, for example last summer, when they revoked the special status of Kashmir and Jammu or when they shut down the internet there?

Well, in the case of Kashmir, since the 1990ies, if there were, let’s say, and I’m being sarcastic, twenty Indians standing up for Kashmir, then after the revocation of the special status it increased to like a thousand or five hundred. So, except for a small group of people, no. Not at all. It is also out of fear. Even say someone like me, every time I say something public, there’s violence, they say she’s a traitor, shut her down. And I don’t have to keep a job, I’m more or less independent so it’s easier for me in some ways, but still, the amount of hatred that is directed towards me, I’d say that ninety percent of that is because of Kashmir.

And this year the protests were completely different because the horrors of being a Muslim in India is a completely different story from Kashmir, it is much worse in some ways. Because Indian Muslims can’t even dream of azadi, you know. They have to live in this country, they have to find a space, they have to make alliances. In the last election the BJP has showed that it can win a massive majority without the Muslim vote, so in a sense they are disenfranchised, they are not needed, which is a very dangerous thing for a community. And as you know, every other day someone is lynched, and this doesn’t even make the news now.

How did this change historically?

What I was saying yesterday was also that after independence, we got a constitution for the first time in the history of this caste-ridden society, which at least on paper said that all people are equal. In the 60ies you had revolutionary movements, demanding the redistribution of wealth, redistribution of land, talking about justice. Those movements were crushed. In the 80ies and 90ies we were reduced to begging for people who were being displaced from their land to stay on their land. Instead of redistribution of land, can you not snatch what little the poor have. Those were crushed. Now we are begging for our citizenship, begging not to be put in jail.

Do you see a real opposition in politics in India at the moment?

India has essentially become a one-party democracy which is an oxymoron. In the past, and in other democracies, when there are elections, two parties, or three parties, or I don’t know how many parties, they fight each other and they are obnoxious with each other, they undermine each other, but in India this current BJP does not want to defeat the opposition, it wants to annihilate the opposition. It does not want the opposition to exist and it has moved very fast to get to that place.

What does “this place” mean?

First of all, it has complete control of the media, which is the most terrifying thing. The mainstream media, the TV, most of the newspapers, no one will dare to oppose it, except in little bits and pieces. Secondly, it has manipulated the process of election funding and it allows these electoral bonds which enables donors to be anonymous, so you can receive funding without ever naming who is funding it. So, it has more funds than all the other political parties together. BJP is now among the richest political parties in the world.

You have a situation with the corona crisis, you asked before if we have reached the portal yet regarding the situation with the corona crisis, the fact is that the portal is not necessarily a place of hope. It is a place of change and it depends whether we manage to make that change good or bad.

And Modi’s response to the pandemic does not offer much hope.

Modi, he more or less set aside what was known as the National Disaster Relief Fund, and has started what is called the PM CARES fund, which is a private fund which takes public funding, it’s amazing. Public money is going into that as though it is a national relief fund but it is a private fund, it is not accountable to anybody. We have a situation where the political process and the election machinery, the judiciary, the police, the media, all of it is hollowed out and completely compromised. A democracy is not just about holding elections. Those elections are neither free nor fair. The constitution —which says that India is a secular, socialist republic—has been completely undermined. It functions as a de facto Hindu Nation in which all citizens do not have the same rights. This is manifest in the Citizenship Amendemnenet Act (CAA) that was passed last year. That is only one example.

How can people still refuse to call this fascism and what does fascism mean in the context of India?

Well, you read my essays so you know that in 2002, Modi was the chief minister when that massacre of Muslims in Gujarat happened.

We are still at the stage where people are willing to worship the people who wound them, who grind them to the floor and who promise the rise of the Hindu nation.

You are talking about the pogroms against the Muslim minority in Ahmedabad after the burning of train in Godhra.

Soon after that, all major Indian corporations literally said they want him as prime minister. The leading liberals said oh, you know, the BJP is not fascist, it’s just a right-wing conservative party which India needs. You pave the way for this to happen, the corporates who are of course the main backbone of Hindu media, and now you have hundreds of TV channels just spewing this venom, these corporates were advertising on these channels and supporting them completely for so many years. Now some of them realised that things have gone so bad that in India you have a government which has all the cunning with which to win elections, but none of the intelligence that is required to run such a complicated country.

It cannot stay together if this goes on, and these corporations realise that in the way that the world economy is integrated, even the people who support the BJP are going to suffer. Nobody wants to invest in India anymore. It’s like when demonetization was suddenly announced. It’s just as if you took a cricket bat and broke everyone’s spine. But we are still at the stage where people are willing to worship the people who wound them, who grind them to the floor and who promise the rise of the Hindu nation.

But how can these people ignore the mob mentality and its violence?

They are not ignoring it; they are appreciating it. They say, oh, he is the only person that can keep Muslims in their place. This kind of conversation and thinking comes out of conditioning which is created by the media. You have to create the conditions for this kind of people and these people have done that.

Anjum, the main character of your novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, hosts a community of many languages, castes and religions in the graveyard where she lives. You wrote in one of your essays that »you feel that your world, too, is divided very simply into two kinds of people—those whom Anjum will agree to accommodate in her guest house or in her graveyard, and those she will not.« Do you see such communities as a possible seed for revolt against the Hindutva nationalism?

If you see who are the people that Anjum accommodates in her graveyard and who are the people that are buried there – those are the people who are the community that will never be a part of this fascist, nationalist programme. People of different political, religious identities, Comrade Revathy, Musa Yeswi, Saddam Hussain, all of them (laughs).

People from the margins of the society?

They are not all from the margins of society. But their thinking is increasingly being marginalized by the rising tide of fascism.

You won a Booker and rose to fame extremely fast with your first novel. Do you consider yourself a part of the literary scene and literary institutions, did you ever feel a part of it?

No. Actually I never became a part of it, because that was my first book and it all happened so suddenly and I was pretty sure that that was not the life that I signed up for. I just completely retreated from there.

What would you say the difference is between the writer as yourself, who lives in India, and the writers who became a part of certain postcolonial centres of knowledge in the West and write about similar issues as you do from an outside perspective?

The thing is that inside and outside is a very graded thing. You can live in India, let’s say you can live in Delhi but you could as well be living in New York if you live a certain kind of way. Because of caste, India is a society that is so deeply divided and those divisions are so protected. You need to be able to penetrate, to walk through these groups. For example, there’ll be very very few Indian writers who would be even sort of allowed into Kashmir in friendship. Or if you go into a village in India, I would say that very few writers, very few journalists, metropolitan Indians, even know how to go into a village in India. You cannot just drive in there. And who do you go with? Do you go with a Brahmin, do you go with a Dalit, do you go with landlords? Workers? A resistance movement? How do you enter that village? And depending on how you enter that village, you will hear different stories.

So, it is a very complicated business of how to be a writer in this country. Who do you walk with, how do you walk, who do you listen to, who is willing to talk to you, all these things. For me, because of the things I write, I am invited in friendship, whether it is into the forest, or into Kashmir. For example, if you live in India or you don’t live in India, there will be very few let’s say non-Dalit writers who are even remotely touched by caste, whereas for me, starting with the God of Small Things, how is it possible to live in this country and act as though this doesn’t exist?

I think people all over the world recognize that storytelling and thoughtful language is more than just about the thing itself. So, through the details of what I’m talking about here, the people can see the detail of what is happening to them there.

The language in both your fiction and essays always seems both very personal and incredibly precise. Do you think about it a lot when you write?

It is not that I think about it a lot, but I care a lot about language. I feel that these essays have been written in urgency, and almost entirely for here, for this place where I live, but I know that the reason you read them, in Slovenia, or that people all over the world read them, is because of the way they are written. They were not written in a general way in order to reach an international audience. They were not ‘adjusted’ or shorn of detail. But I think people all over the world recognize that storytelling and thoughtful language is more than just about the thing itself. So, through the details of what I’m talking about here, the people can see the detail of what is happening to them there.

By details do you mean a sort of understanding of a society on a micro level?

Yes. Oddly enough, I feel that specific, regional detail and observation ends up having a universal quality.

What is your writing process like when it comes to essays with political topics which you publish regularly and are now gathered in this massive collection My Seditious Heart?

When I write these essays, what happens is that I always try not to write them. (laughter) I try and tell myself “You don’t write it, let somebody else write.” And then when there comes a time, when I am so consumed by what I feel the need to say that it’s easier for me to write than not write. It’s not like I have an agenda, oh, I have to write this, and I have to write that. All these years and all those one thousand pages of My Seditious Heart, … it’s kind of an accidental book. You write and then you understand something, and this becomes a layer and then something else happens and you really have this foundation to look at the next thing – it’s like that.

How do you perceive English language, in which you write? There have always existed quite different views on writers from ex British colonies using it.

English in a way is my first language. Because my mother is from Kerala, my father is from Bengal, I was born in Shillong, I then moved to Kerala… that kind of movement between languages. Ultimately the point is what that English is. How many languages are part of that English and how English itself has expanded and changed by us over here. For example, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is translated into so many languages and we here sat and worked with Urdu and Hindu translations. In fact, whatever language that book was written in, it is a book that was still imagined in so many languages.

I wrote about this in my new collection of essays which just came out and is called Azadi, in the essay In What Language Does Rain Fall Over Tormented Cities (A line from Neruda’s Book of Questions) about the whole language map in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, how we are living in an ocean of languages and always translating from that to that to that.

There is also a very interesting politics now around English. Because a lot of Dalit people are saying teach us English, not Hindi or some other language, which is full of caste. If Annihilation of Caste by Ambedkar, the great Dalit visionary had been written in any local language, it would have made the privileged people happy because they would have contained it.

In God of Small Things, you write about the (Marxist) Communist Party’s politics working within the traditional values of caste. I was wondering if this is still the case today with leftist movements in India, ignoring caste and only considering class? And is it similar as it is in the US, where often the critique of the Black Lives Matter movement is that class should be in the fore of their political fight, not race?

I actually think that this is changing in the US now, starting with the last two months if not else. In India, I think the younger generation is certainly having to deal with it, because it is not only the Left, but it’s even the anti-caste movements that have to deal with neoliberalism and capitalism. In my essay “The Doctor and the Saint” I say that unless those who understand capitalism learn to understand Brahminism, which is the traditional anti-caste movements’ name for the caste system, and unless those who understand Brahminism understand capitalism, they are not going to be able to challenge the edifice they are up against.

I think the older generation of leftists have made big mistakes, but also the leaders of anti-caste movements who have become major politicians have made big mistakes. I think there is a conversation among the younger generation, but it’s just at the beginning.

What kind of mistakes do you have in mind? What for example happened to the Dalit Panthers?

I wasn’t thinking of the Dalit Panthers so much as the mainstream political parties that fought elections primarily based on caste identity—for example the party headed by Mayawati. The complexity of caste allegiances has confounded them too, and the BJP has managed to use its anti-Muslim rhetoric to woo even non-privileged caste voters to its ranks even while the caste system remains firmly in place and attacks of Dalits and Dalit women in particular rise sharply.

I think there’s a lot of people in the US who would say that we live in a post-race society, and I got a sense from your writings that similarly, the “invisibility” of caste today in India is just as problematic as its promotion was in the past. In the past, it was something official and now a lot of people do not acknowledge its existence.

Well, Black Lives Matter of late has made that impossible. If you were in India right now, which is just before the elections in the state of Bihar, or before any election, you see that everyone only talks about caste and that the conversation is completely open. Only before elections. After that, the dominant caste and privileged caste people try to pretend that it is not there.

I don’t know if you have followed what happened two or three weeks ago, with the Dalit girl who was raped and killed, who, in three separate videos, said who had raped her, before she died. And the police don’t register a case, doctors don’t do an examination, magistrates don’t ask for details, so you see the whole process of trying to take caste out of the equation and act as if it was just an ordinary unfortunate crime and then they slowly start blaming the family, saying it’s some family feud or something.

This often happens with police killings of black people in the US as well.

There are big differences between race and caste although both are about discriminating against people for reasons of birth. The thing about caste that makes it complicated is that it is not that there are black people and white people. There are four thousand castes, and each caste oppresses someone and is oppressed by someone. So that sort of vertical, hierarchical way of thinking is not natural and is not in solidarity. It’s a malaise that affects everybody, including those who are considered the Untouchable by someone, or who consider someone the Unseeable. Even inside the Dalit castes there are castes. And sometimes the greatest violence happens for example between Shudras and Dalits and so on. It’s not just white people and black people.

This hypocrisy of the upper castes can also be seen in the very problematic show on Netflix called the Indian matchmaking, where you see families educating their daughters but then still forcing them into arranged marriages inside their own castes. Can we talk about a specific Brahminical patriarchy regarding both the extreme violence that you just talked about as well as more banal examples like this one?

Yes, one hundred percent. I haven’t seen that show but, I think that less than five or three percent of Indian people marry outside of their caste. And even today you will see young people being killed, being beheaded, honour killings, all that for marrying outside of your caste. And of course, now even more dangerous is marrying a Muslim. For that, you can lose your life here.

In 1992, you wrote the essay The Great Indian Rape Trick criticizing the exploitative rape scene in the film Bandit Queen portraying Phoolan Devi. Do you think much has changed regarding the portrayal of sexual violence and the portrayal of lower cast women in Bollywood or are this kind of industries always aligned with the political elite and their worldviews?

Well, this is a very interesting question. First of all, with the exception of a handful of films, Bollywood doesn’t deal with caste. It acts as if it doesn’t exist. But it is very interesting if you look at what is going on right now. If you look at the Bollywood films of the 60ies, 70ies, 80ies, you see a film industry that in fact wasn’t elitist. It had a great place for the poor, for the working class, by the time the 70ies came it was socialist, almost. All the films were about workers and workers’ strikes and landlords and so on, films like Coolie, Deewaar, the films with Amitabh Bachchan, all these kinds of films where the great heroes were trade unionists, working class people, fighting corruption and so on, but, they were extremely sexist. Sort of chauvinistic to the point of my mind just shutting down in those days because of the way women were portrayed in these films and it was hard to appreciate other progressive parts because of that.

What has changed?

Now what has happened is that by the 90ies neoliberalism happened, those huge thousand seat theatres were shut down and theatres moved into these malls where poor people can’t go. Small theatres with two hundred seats. The big theatres disappeared and only the middle class could go and see movies, and so the movies also changed. All were suddenly shot abroad, in Singapore, in Switzerland, on some ocean liners, all about rich Indians and their rich problems, the cosmopolitan elite. The women are now liberated, and they are smoking, it’s not only the cabaret dancers that smoke, they smoke, they have lovers, but they are elite. The poor have disappeared from movies, more or less. The Muslims are portrayed in films about terrorism, hyper nationalism, where the Muslim is either a terrorist or a hyper-nationalist, all that. And now, just in the last two months, what you see is a mega attack by the Hindu nationalist non-English speaking, non-cosmopolitan establishment on Bollywood, because they are not prepared to deal with this cosmopolitanism either. So, it is a new phase that is coming.

Is this also because of some Bollywood big names expressing dissenting opinions or more because of the cosmopolitan liberal lifestyle shown in films?

Most big names have not expressed dissenting opinion. It’s just too dangerous for them, because ultimately its business, and that business would just be shut down. So it’s not dissent that is a problem. What is required now is complete subservience. And yes, all forms of cosmopolitanism are viewed with hostility.

You are also someone who openly wrote about spending time with Maoists guerrillas in Central India and about sympathizing with them. In the past years, local struggles like this, especially indigenous struggles, are becoming more and more important. What do you think is most important to learn from this kind of political fights?

In the forests of central India live vast populations of indigenous people whose lands have now been given away, or were signed off to big multinational corporations, mining corporations, infrastructure corporations and so on. And in order to take over those lands, the government flooded the forests with paramilitary troops and the Maoists who have been in those forests for many years, started to reorganize and fight back. But the thing is, I don’t know whether Maoists is an accurate way of describing them or not. They certainly call themselves the Maoist Party, but ninety-nine percent of the fighting forces are indigenous people. They are fighting to save their homeland, fighting to prevent themselves from being displaced, and thereby fighting to preserve the forests and rivers and everything that is today at the cutting edge of the battle against climate change.

Nonviolence is a form of theatre that is performed in full public view, not deep inside the forests by people who have nothing.

So, they are leftist in practice, not only in theory.

What we can learn from them is that here is a past that could teach us about how to live in the future. An anticapitalist society living in the heart of India, a society racing towards Corporate capitalism. It is sought to be annihilated. But if you annihilate it, then you lose that imagination, the imagination that allows you to leave the bauxite in the mountains, the trees in the forest, the water in the river. In a way you annihilate the possibility of another idea of how to look at this earth. Of how to define happiness.

And of course, in India, because of this great hypocritical allegiance to Gandhi, people would be criticising them for actually waging an armed struggle. And I say but why wouldn’t you criticise the government for sending in tens of thousands of armed paramilitary and police forces who are burning villages, who are raping women? And what kind of nonviolence do you want these people to perform? Because nonviolence is a form of theatre that is performed in full public view, not deep inside the forests by people who have nothing.

You are dealing with all these topics constantly and it seems as though you are a person who could never really ignore them, but what do you do to keep calm and to get your mind off such heavy issues when it becomes exhausting?

I am actually a pretty calm person; I think that the real danger is when you start thinking that you can solve all the problems of the world in your lifetime. You can’t, right? So, you have to do what you can do. For me, writing for example The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, what was there more calming than that or more entertaining? I always had that. Right now, because I am not writing a novel, I’m a little lost, but that’s also a part of writing, you have to be lost and you have to wander and then you find your way.

I’m also not on social media, I’m not like hundred percent of the time in all of this. I think a lot about writing also, about how to write and how to think about things, it’s not just about gathering information all the time, I don’t do it.

Your first essay after winning the Booker prize back in 1998 was titled The End of Imagination. Do you ever fear an end of imagination with your writing?

No, I don’t fear it. The only thing I fear is that sometimes, in the place where I am now, people often expect you to repeat yourself. And I feel that. I never want to become a factory.

And how do you deal with that, in interviews, Q&As?

I just deal with it instinctively, when I feel that I don’t want to talk anymore, I just shut down. For me it’s a pleasure to talk to you, because first of all you know what you’re talking about, of course I didn’t know that before, but I sensed it. And it’s also interesting for us to talk not just to Europe and the US. Of course, Slovenia is in Europe, but what I mean is countries like England, France, Germany… I am very open to that. To someone from Japan or from Korea or something, these are important maps to make for us all.

Photos: Mayank Austen Soofi