Self-Deception in the Age of Trump and Clinton, with R.K. Narayan

Book Reviews

Dismayed by the current political climate? Finding yourself saying #IGuessImWithHer as opposed to a candidate who seems to be trolling all of us? I guess it was timely that I started reading R.K. Narayan’s book The Guide this way, so I can reflect on the concepts of deception and self-deception.

I mean, I struggled with this book to be honest, just as I am struggling to accept Hillary. I will never vote for a Republican, so Trump is out of the question. What I want to delve into are actually the stories we tell ourselves about which candidate deserves our vote. The book was a timely tool, a way to see things behind the scenes.

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Narayan’s The Guide follows the story of a Raju from the fictional town of Malgudi in India. Fresh out of prison with nowhere to go and no one to come home to, he set up camp at an old temple by the river. Slowly, locals started coming to seek his guidance as though he was a monk or a swami sent from the heavens. His disposition, his clothes and even his appearance started earning him the trust of the closest village folks who came bearing gifts and food. His thoughts became teachings, and he continued to keep this up for the purpose of survival.

He spoke to them on godliness, cleanliness, spoke on Ramayana, the characters in the epics; he addressed them on all kinds of things. He was hypnotized by his own voice; he felt himself growing in stature as he the upturned faces of the children shining in the half-light when he spoke. No one was more impressed with the grandeur of the whole thing than Raju himself.

But Raju was no monk, nor was he a yogi. Having brought up by the railways of Malgudi where his father’s business once was, he sought to make a name for himself by delving into different kinds of businesses. His father had a small convenience store and after his death, Raju took over. But he was smart, observant and knew when opportunities came up. He discovered that: 1) he could diversify his business by responding to the needs of travelers (he started selling books and other printed materials) and 2) he could capitalize on tourism (he became known as “Railway Raju” to many).

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I read stuff that interested me, bored me, baffled me, and dozed off in my seat. I read stuff that pricked up a noble thought, a philosophy that appealed, I gazed on pictures of old temples and ruins and new buildings and battleships, and soldiers and pretty girls around whom my thoughts lingered. I learned much from scrap.