It's getting worse under Prime Minister Modi. The economic miracle has failed, to a degree, and people are reaching back to a kind of imagined Hindu past for a feeling of pride. And that feeling of pride necessarily comes from denying any kind of Muslim heritage. People my age seem to be becoming illiberal in a way that I'm surprised by.
When a certain swathe of India's population considers the country's ancient past, it doesn't see a country fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by caste divisions, and mired in poverty; rather, what's envisioned is a vast, unified Hindu empire stretching from Kashmir to the Indian tip at Kanyakumari.
By 2013, at the age of 29, I was failing. I had left two good jobs in succession to complete a novel I'd been tooling around with since 2009, had enrolled in a graduate programme in Texas, as far away from home as possible, to finish it - and yet: what did I have to show for it after five years of work?
I tend to see my characters from inside and outside at once; this is a technique I use to retain a slight distance. It means my characters can act in unexpected ways on two axes: physical and mental. It isn't just, 'I thought this and then I did this,' which is the technique of the modern psychological novel.
I remember returning to Bangalore after a few months of travel and seeing it as a first-world city, like New York or San Francisco. This may be obvious to some people, but I grew up in Delhi, and I had no experience of how someone from a 'Tier 2' city may view a 'Tier 1' city. You really do emigrate between worlds when you come from those towns.
When we talk about 9/11 and 26/11 - which is the shorthand for the Mumbai attacks in 2008 - we're talking about the most successful terrorist attacks in history. When you start trying to study the most successful event of its kind, it actually doesn't make for great fiction because there isn't the kind of failure in it that fiction thrives on.
Terrorists are people, too - they are given to error. Naipaul and then DeLillo do a good job in their novels of drawing this out: I'm thinking of DeLillo's contention in 'Mao II' that terrorists have replaced writers as the people who 'alter the inner-life of the culture.' I thought that was marvellous!
American policies toward Asians reached a nadir in 1924, with the implementation of a law that sought 'to preserve the idea of American homogeneity' and denied admission to the country to most non-whites. Immigration from Asia was banned completely, with the establishment of an 'Asiatic Barred Zone.'