Empire of the Soul: Some Journeys in India by Paul William Roberts

By Paul William Roberts

Paul William Roberts's trips via India span twenty years, and during this quantity he creates a mosaic, by way of turns tragic and comedian, of the subcontinent and its humans. From the crumbling palaces of maharajas to the slums of Calcutta; from the ashrams of holy males to a millionaire drug dealer's seriously guarded castle on India's border with China; Roberts seeks to trap the entice of this enigmatic land - this empire of the soul.

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Extra resources for Empire of the Soul: Some Journeys in India

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But being a waiter was simply a temporary phase for me. I knew what was to come, and what I would one day look like when the change came. In the meantime, there was my mother’s catering business to work in and other jobs that came my way. As a teenager, I was a camp counselor for part of the summer at the Butler Street YMCA. There is nothing like trying to handle twenty-five eight-year-old boys when it is too rainy to go outside and some way has to be found to harness what amounts to unbridled energy.

She had heard it was a good program and that was all she needed to know. “If it’s still open when you’re old enough, I want you to go to the Lab school,” she would say, making it sound like the best thing in the world. Her ambition for us was just enormous, and she never missed the opportunity to let us know that. My father seemed to tailor his desires to what he may have thought was a more realistic judgment of what could be achieved. Perhaps he saw himself as just facing the facts. Facing facts is a tricky business.

As soon as we arrived, after changing out of our traveling clothes—we always put on our best clothes to take trips—we would find our cousin Bobby and go play with another boy named Bobby, a white boy my age. We did all the things one would expect—exploring, climbing trees, playing games, getting into fights. Although one Bobby was white and one was black, we were all just good and easy companions over the summers of my early childhood. That ended in the summer of 1947. I came into my aunt Jimmie Lee’s house as usual and, after greeting the adults, was getting ready to go outside immediately.

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