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Dave Prager is an American who spent 18 months in New Delhi, India on an advertising job, loved it enough to talk about it a lot. He has talked about his time in India 140 characters at a time here . He has blogged about it here. And most recently he has written a 400+ page book about it and the book can be bought here (There are unauthorized Amazon links for the same that are not this;please ignore them).

I have enjoyed his writing a lot. As an Indian in the US, there were several personal parallels and analogies I saw in Dave’s experiences. On the eve of the book’s release in the US, I had the opportunity to have a wide ranging two-part conversation with him. We talked about everything from the perks of being white in India to the pitfalls of being white in India to vagaries of a Saravana Bhavan menu.

If you have an Apple device you can download our conversation as a podcast via Itunes from here. If you own a non-Apple device, you can also search for No Sacred cows on your podcast app or listen to it in the embedded links below.

The entire conversation has also been transcribed here below. Please do read, listen and most importantly do buy the book. I don’t know Dave personally or have never spoken to him before this conversation and the recommendation is purely as a fan and supporter of intelligent and humorous writing about India.

Part I

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Part II

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Interview with Dave Prager

Shyam: Hello everyone, I’m here with Dave Prager, author and creator of the book, Delirious Delhi and the widely popular Twitter feed that goes by the same name. Hi Dave, welcome to the show.

Dave: Hi, thanks, it’s good to be here.

Shyam: Thank you for making time for this. I know you from the day, popular Twitter user called IR Squared, re-tweeted a bunch of your blog posts and I’ve been following you I think for about two years. I know a lot about you –

Dave: (chuckles)

Shyam: – as someone who spent 18 months in New Delhi after spending the bulk of your early life in Brooklyn, New York. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself so that the people listening to this who may not have heard about you before get to know you a little bit better?

Dave: Sure. So, you’re right I lived in New York for about nine years. I was working in the advertising industry actually on the Madison Avenue which is a pretty cool. So one day HR comes up to me and they say, hey Dave, you’ve been working on this account for a long time. How would you like to work on the exact same account but in the New Delhi office? And I said, well gee, that sounds interesting. You know, I’ve always wanted to go to India, my wife and I had a passion for Indian food, of course we had really, you know, we had a passion for what we thought was Indian food, which is what you get like in Indian restaurants which now we know is nothing like the vast wealth of Indian food that awaited us once we got there. But nevertheless, we were very excited about things like Mulligatawny Soup and Vindaloo Curry –

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: Now we know better. Yeah, so HR said, you want to go to India? I said, for sure. So one week later, this was July of 2007, one week later I was in India getting lost very quickly in the GK2 neighborhood. You know, it’s funny that the first impressions were, my HR lady in India dropped me off in (unintelligible) and said see you Monday. And so I wandered around for about 10 minutes. I was sweating instantly, I was terrified because the auto rickshaws were honking at me and all the people were staring and there were monkeys laughing at me. And I was really, you know, getting sunburned, and I was just lost and I thought this was the most overwhelming place I’d ever been. I can’t believe what a madhouse GK2 in New Delhi is. Eventually I composed myself, I found my home, I had a good night’s rest, got over my jetlag. Next day I went to, took an auto rickshaw, straight to Old Delhi. I experienced Old Delhi and wandered around for hours and came back and realized that GK2 is actually very peaceful and quiet.

Shyam: (laughs) that’s quite a welcome to New Delhi in India.

Dave: Yeah (chuckles).

Shyam: So you spent about 18 months in Delhi, right? 2008-2009?

Dave: That’s correct.

Shyam: Yeah. So yeah, I enjoyed your Twitter feed and then I, thanks to you, I got an early copy of your book that’s coming out in the U.S. in a month or so. It’s already been out in India for a while.

Dave: Hm-hmm.

Shyam: And I read through the entire book. It’s entertaining as heck. And I think the thing I enjoyed most about the book was how self-effacing you were throughout the book and how, not only did you not stick to the same clichés and stereotypes that a lot of Westerners writing about India stick to, you also made fun of them. Was this a conscious choice? I guess I’m trying to understand your writing style a little bit. Was this a conscious choice you made that I am not going to go down that path or did it just end up that way?

Dave: Yeah, you know one of the key things I wanted to do was to avoid – there’s two clichés about India, right? Either India is a spiritual place and everybody there is so peaceful and gets along and the poorest people are so at peace with their poverty, or there’s the other cliché which is, you know, some people say India is disgusting, it’s filthy. I don’t think either of those things are true. I think there are aspects of both that are true and there are aspects of both that are extremely false. So I wanted to avoid the cliché of the guy going down a spiritual journey and I also wanted to avoid the cliché of a Westerner coming in and saying this is how things should be done. So what am I left with? I’m left with the things that I saw and the things that I experienced and the things I figured out for myself. And so that’s the way I tried to approach it, which is, here are the things that I really liked, here are the things that I really hated, and you know, it’s up to you to decide whether I’m right or wrong. And in terms of self-effacing, that’s just kind of how I am. I realize if I want to get a little bit serious for a second, that you know, growing up in America, living in America, I’m a bit more, you know, I’m quite a bit luckier than, you know, the majority of the world and so instantly that places a burden on me to appreciate what I have and appreciate that this isn’t my place where I’m wandering around someone else’s country. And so, you know, people are staring at me and people are laughing at me, that’s kind of part of the fun of it is, you have a lot more fun when you are laughing along with people. That’s kind of the thing. So like I remember, I think it was at a (unintelligible) on (unintelligible), it could be wrong, but I walk in, I’m very proud of myself, I had been in the country for a couple months, I said, I’d like some pani please. And the guy said, excuse me? I said, uh, I’d like some pani please. And he said, I don’t understand. I said, you know, water. He said, oh yes, water. And so I said oh well what was I saying wrong? You know, pani, right? He said, yeah, pani’s correct but I didn’t expect you to say it.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: And that’s the kind of fun that I just try to bring out. These silly things that happened to me and my wife when we’re there is just how it is. If you walk around with your eyes open and be open to new experiences, things will happen and the philosophy we had going in was, we’re going to say yes to everything that comes up no matter how strange it seems. In retrospect, maybe that was a bad idea sometimes –

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: – but for the most part that’s what we did is we tried to open our minds and just see what happened and let, you know, let life out there, this sounds stupid, let life experience us. I can’t believe I just said that. But that’s kind of the idea. See, already I’m embarrassing myself during this interview as well.

Shyam: No, not at all. I really enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t a chapter on snake charmers or this yoga camp or you know, the things that you expect someone to stereotype India with. I mean, there’s a food chapter that talks a lot about food but you go fairly deep, it’s not just, like you said, Vindaloo Curry and you know Mango Lassi or something like that. You went pretty deep into the cuisine there so I enjoyed that. Reading this book is not like reading most Westerner accounts. So that was, that was really, I thought, well thought out and even better, well executed.

Dave: I appreciate that. So I think that I came in a little bit differently than a lot of Westerners do. I think my experience there would be more common which is, I didn’t come in as the boss of the company, like a lot of Westerners do. I didn’t come in as a volunteer or a student backpacker or somebody married to the boss of the company. I came in as like basically, not even middle management, lower-middle management.

Shyam: Hm-hmm.

Dave: You know, I’d been at my company for a couple years and I had experienced leading a group of copyrighters. So I work in advertising. In advertising the people who write the ads are called the copyrighters. So I always came in to basically oversee the copyrighters in the Delhi agency. But that meant there were still at least two or three people above me who could tell me what to do. And because of that, I think that I wasn’t coming in ordering everyone around, like a lot of Westerners do. I was coming in as just one of the gang. I got to tell people what to do sometimes, but a lot more times people told me what to do and I was working just as hard, well not just as hard, those people work a lot harder than I do out there, but because of that, I had a much different perspective which hopefully makes the book a little bit different.

Shyam: That’s a very good point. Yeah, your background and what you went to India for is very different from I think what most people go for. I think that’s a good point. I didn’t think about that. Awesome. One more question about your writing style because I’m a fan of your Twitter feed, I’m a fan of your blog as well. Was the book a conscious choice from the time you landed there and so did you write the blog and book in parallel, or was the book an afterthought where your blog is more, you know, every day if you feel like a sudden urge to write you wrote it, and the book happened independent of that. What was the writing process for the book like?

Dave: Yeah, that’s really it. So my wife started the blog when we landed. We had a lot of trouble getting settled for the first month or two. And just little things like where do you buy pillows, or where do you buy sheets? Then my wife, Jenny, started the blog basically to collect the things that we learned. And I sound stupid. Where do you buy clothes? Where do you buy sheets? But there’s a certain litera – like let’s call it retail literacy – where I can stand out in front of any supermarket in America and figure out, okay, well if the fruit is over there that means the pharmacy’s probably over there, which means the cereal is probably on this aisle. And even though I’ve never been to this store and this state, I can figure it out. But if I go to Hauz Khas Market for the first time and look around, I see unfamiliar shops, totally unfamiliar. Like, what is this stationary store sell? I didn’t know, we didn’t know. And I remember asking my co-worker, Dipankar, where do you buy superglue? And his answer was, everywhere. And of course everywhere because every market has a stationary store. But when I first – we first got started, we had no idea that a stationary store was a place that was basically where you go to buy office supplies. We didn’t get that. So we got that and we wanted to share this knowledge with everybody. So my wife started the blog to share this knowledge. I quickly took it over because it’s (laughs) what I do. She has a good idea, then I get very excited about it. So I started adding content and then writing just about what it’s like to, the day-to-day, the things that I saw, the pictures that I, that I took, the things that I learned. And the audience kind of shifted. So originally we were writing for future Westerners moving to Delhi, but the people who were commenting and participating were Indians in Delhi and America who were really interested in what we were thinking about the city. So as our audience shifted, the tone of it shifted. So it was less about, hey, if you ever need a good bath mat, go to, you know. It wasn’t that. It shifted to, here’s some observations on Delhi traffic and here’s what we think the root cause of such and such, you know, social whatever it might be. So it got a little bit more, kind of us trying to figure out what was going on around us as opposed to us trying to say, oh here’s this, this and this. A couple months before we left Delhi, a friend of ours, an American, said you should write a book. And I said well, you know what, I might as well. So I wrote a book proposal. I shopped it around, and sure enough, HarperCollins India picked it up. A couple days before we left India, we signed the papers and after India, we moved to Singapore, so I spent the year we were living in Singapore mostly writing the book about Delhi. And then it was published in December of 2011 in India, and then now finally, a year-and-a-half later, in June 2013, the book is coming out in the states.

Shyam: Gotcha. That’s interesting to hear that he book was written after the fact. It doesn’t seem that way when you read it. It feels very much like you got back home that night and you wrote it. So you must have, you know, recounted memories in a lot of places like in forms of pictures and emails or something to have that good a memory of things that happened maybe a year-and-a-half, two years prior.

Dave: Yeah, you know I think that there was, it’s kind of incredible how much, how many little details stuck in, in our minds. Well, you know, 416 pages worth of detail stuck in our minds. So after India we lived in Singapore and Singapore didn’t stick in our minds like that. And everywhere we lived since hasn’t really, these little details don’t jump out at us. There’s something about, maybe because it was so different than anything we’ve ever experienced. All these little things just stayed fresh in our minds. So once we figured out that the book was going to happen, we spent the last couple weeks in India just taking notes on everything we could remember, just writing things down. I had dumped it all into a database just so I would have all the little thoughts and memories kind of collected in some mass thing, and then I just, the book was as much an exercise of sorting out just kind of organizing thoughts, as it was creating it. But yeah, it’s really, it hasn’t happened since. It’s just this incredible visceral recall that we had in India.

Shyam: Interesting. Very interesting. One of the things that I was really intrigued by, which I heard from a lot of people, but you call it out in your book quite a few times, is the treatment that you get when you’re white in India. You talk about your wife’s two jobs, especially the advertising job, where it almost felt like, correct me if I’m wrong, but it almost felt like she was hired because of her skin color more than any other attribute. And you encountered all through your time there. There are a lot of perks to being white in India and, but it’s not an easy thing to deal with. You have your conscience and you have your belief system really challenged by what’s happening about how you can get into a bar or you can evade the metal detectors anywhere whereas your brown friends who are just about as well qualified don’t have that perk. So what’s the, what’s the way to deal with – I’m sure a lot of white people face that when they go to India? What’s your – what was your way of dealing with that?

Dave: Probably lots of guilt.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: We were definitely aware of it and certainly it didn’t feel right, but at the same time when you’re presented with an opportunity like that, like to jump the cue or to get special treatment, it’s really hard to say no. So there was a lot of guilt. You know, sometimes we could even use it to our selfish advantage, like if I wanted to leave work early I knew I wasn’t going to get in as much trouble as if my colleague left work early or decided to skip out on work. I feel guilty about it but it was, it’s just, and it’s human nature to just take advantage of it. I think the way to cope with it is to be aware of it. If you’re not aware of it – I met a lot of people who almost felt entitled to it. A lot of Westerners who felt like this treatment was something they deserved. And I don’t feel like we deserved it because what makes us different than anyone else so we’re special. Nothing. Of course, I feel that way whenever anyone calls me sir, even here, like at supermarkets, I’m like, please don’t call me sir, first of all, that makes me feel old, but second of all, you know, there’s no reason that I’m any deserving of respect more than you are. So maybe it’s just a personality quirk that I feel kind of uncomfortable with shows of respect that I don’t feel like I’ve earned from somebody. Yeah. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Shyam: It does. It’s just such a unique thing to deal with when you go from here to there because I found – I’ve been in America for over a decade now and I’ve found that, you know, news stories, odd incident aside, if you’re on the coasts, which is where I’ve been in university towns, the people are extremely conscious of treating everyone equally and fairly. Like there’s obviously subtle discrimination and subtle racism everywhere in the world but people go out of their way to make sure everyone’s treated fair. You know, it’s very very hard to jump a restaurant line in most American restaurants because of your skin color or because of your wealth. You can make reservations or – but it’s not easy. It’s not for the middle class or the upper-middle class to take advantage of.

Dave: Hm-hmm.

Shyam: Whereas in India you pretty much can. It’s part of the system. And it’s interesting that you say that you are guilty but it didn’t stop you at that moment from taking short-term advant – which is very human, which is a very human thing to empathize with and deal with. So I think that’s interesting. It’s not that the guilt stops you at the moment of need. I think that’s how most humans are, right?

Dave: Yeah. There were times though. I remember we’d be waiting for an auto and then someone else was there first, an Indian person, and the auto would come up to me and I would say, no, that person was there first. Of course, if I’d been very sweaty and it was raining I probably would have just jumped in, you know, taken the first one anyway. Yeah, it’s, it’s not something I’m entirely proud of but it happens.

Shyam: Yeah.

Dave: I don’t think, a lot of the experiences we have – certainly if you’re walking down the street and you know, people would invite us to come into the wedding. Whether we would or not. I can’t imagine that any Indian person walking down the street is getting invited to the wedding but we do get invited to the wedding and if we do go in we’re going to have an amazing time and an amazing story to tell. Yes, on the one hand we found Indians being incredibly hospitable, but on the other hand, it’s because we are unique and white, so there’s something to feel guilty about a little bit.

Shyam: Did you have a – I think the answer to this is no, but I’ll ask anyways. Did you have a lot of trouble getting used to being treated like everyone else after you moved out of India to Singapore and then to the U.S. or –

Dave: (laughs) in a way, yeah.

Shyam: Oh, you did, oh interesting.

Dave: So at the end of the book I actually talk about this. I say, in Singapore we would see weddings and tents and stuff and we would stand in the periphery and watch and if we’d been in India, people would invite us in and suddenly we’d be having photos with baby on our lap. But in Singapore people would just absolutely ignore us and we would kind of joke to ourselves, hey, you know, Westerners standing here. Invite us in, give us some of that food. As a joke, but also, you get used to certain kind of treatment and, whether you’re proud of it or not, you kind of want it to continue. You know, it’s not, it’s just how it is. You know, you can tell it makes me uncomfortable but it’s true. It’s just – I’m glad we, I’m both glad and saddened that people treated us the way they did.

Shyam: Got it. The second thing I wanted to talk about from your book was something that I experienced in Delhi myself. I was – I’m originally from (unintelligible), but I went to New Delhi last November for about a week and I was extremely surprised by how many parks there were. And you write about this in your book too. Like it’s not common for urban India to have as many pockets of green as New Delhi does, and you write about this in your book too. Have you figured out how they do it because they don’t get enough rain, there is extreme weather most of the year. Do you know the secret to how New Delhi has that many parks? Not only how many parks they have but how green they stay.

Shyam: Yeah.

Dave: The whole year-round they’re always flowery, always beautiful no matter how long it’s been since the last rain. We don’t get it, but actually, the other day we were talking about living here, we’d been in California for about a year now; there’s a good stretch of four or five months where it didn’t rain and yet, you know, the grass got brown but the trees were still pretty and flowery. It wasn’t wilting like, you know, if you go to the desert areas of the American, you know, southwest or whatever, you know when it’s been a couple months since it rained. And something about the – I don’t know, so Delhi has a secret –

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: – a secret greenery. I’m sure that there’s some biologist out there saying, well obviously the answer is blah you idiot. In terms of all the parks, I think that that’s a really nice feature of Delhi. I don’t think we appreciated it as much as we should have, but yeah it’s just wonderful all the little parks that they have and all the big parks that they have too.

Shyam: Do you have a favorite park or two that you can talk about?

Dave: I wouldn’t go running a lot in Gulmohar Park near my place in Hauz Khas Market. It was – you know I know this for a fact that there were orchids growing there, like wild orchids growing on bushes because you can’t mistake orchids. You know, they have the little, little scooper things and the little tongue things, again, I’m clearly not a plant biologist.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: The little tongue thing. But I wrote about this in an article that I published in some Indian newspaper, and someone commented, well, clearly this guy’s never been to Gulmohar Park because there are absolutely no orchids growing in Gulmohar Park. Sir, if you’re listening, I’m sure those are orchids. If they’re not, they look like orchids and I’m not a plant guy. (laughs)

Shyam: Gotcha. Yeah, in so many ways, New Delhi is typical urban India with a metro, the crowds, the people, the noise, the smog and the pollution, but then you see all these parks and you’re like, how did that happen, that can’t be natural. So yeah, I was – I’m glad you wrote about that in your book because that’s what I was feeling in my head and good to get validation I guess. The last thing I want to ask about your book, I mean there’s so much to talk about, but I wanted to stick to the things that I thought were like very unique and very interesting and I can talk about this topic for probably 10 hours but I’m going to let you introduce the topic to the audience and also talk about it. I enjoyed anything you wrote about Gora Evasion.

Dave: (laughs)

Shyam: It was so wonderful to read and I have so much empathy and I experienced the same thing. I don’t know what brown is in India but brown evasion in day-to-day life and the U.S. So take it away Dave, what is Gora Evasion and whatever you want to say about it. The floor is yours.

Dave: Okay. So when a Westerner goes to India, he doesn’t think he’s traveling to a country where a billion people are living, he thinks he’s going on an Indiana Jones style adventure. And that was what we kind of expected, that we’re going to step off the plane and we’re going to have to hang off the side of a train on the way to our hotel, which will be covered in snakes, or something to that affect. You get there, and suddenly you realize, well hey, there’s a billion people here and they’re all drinking cappuccinos and watching Friends.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: But let’s ignore that part and let’s focus on the adventure we’re having. And one of the keys to maintaining the illusion of adventure is to not see all the signs that, you know, that guy over there, hey he looks familiar, oh, wasn’t his sister in marching band with you, oh man he’s in India too?

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: So you somehow or other you start ignoring all the other Westerners you see. And it’s literally, if two Westerners pass in an alley in Old Delhi, they don’t make eye contact. They actually look the other way –

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: – to pretend like the other’s not there. We actually, we were at Karim’s Restaurant which is a very famous restaurant in New Delhi, and the guy who sat us, Jenny and I, sat us across from two German guys who spoke English, you know, maybe they didn’t speak English, but the fact is, they didn’t look at us. They didn’t make eye contact even though we were sitting across from them and we didn’t try to engage them because that ruins the adventure of going to Karim’s. So we’d been talking about this after we’ve been there for about a year. We were talking about this theory that we were calling Gora Evasion. And we were in Mumbai and we were walking around, it’s what we do when we go to the cities and we just walk and walk and walk and see what we can see. So we’d walk up to Malabar Hill and then we’re walking down from Malabar Hill, there’s a long road, it’s kind of wooded and desolate, and it was dusk. And I remember there were these giant bats flying around and about a quarter-mile down the road, we saw a Western couple walking towards us. And there was nobody else there, there was just an occasional car and there was no way that they couldn’t notice us. No way that we couldn’t notice them. So I said, Jenny, let’s put it to the test. Let’s try to make eye contact. Let’s try to say hi to these people. So we get closer and closer and closer, and then just at the point where if we were home, out on a hike, our eyes would meet and we would say hi, the guy suddenly points to a bat and they both watch the bat flying by as they pass us to make sure that they could avoid eye contact with us. And then they continue pretending that they were the only Indians, or the only Americans in India.

Shyam: Gotcha. I loved your description of it right now. And I loved reading about it in the book. I think it happens a lot with Indians in the U.S. too. Like if I’m at a, what I think is the most hip vegan brunch place, or if I’m at a clothing store of a, you know, a brand that I think is superior to what most people wear, and if I were to spot people who looked like me there, I try and pretend that they don’t exist because it’s my – it’s my finding. Or if I’ve gone camping or a hike and I see someone else there, and I see this even at work, you know you meet a lot of people who look like you at work and it’s – I’ve noticed that Indians go out of their way to not make eye contact, to look away or – and cell phones have made it easier honestly, like I can look at my phone

Dave: (laughs)

Shyam: – and avoid anyone, I can avoid my best friend if I’m pretending to be engrossed in something really interesting. But to see that that was also something you noticed and you saw, I think we’re on to something huge here. I think Gora Evasion is going to be on urban dictionary in a year or so and I think people are going to make up their own terms for their ethnicities and race. I think, I think that was a great finding. I hope you patent it real quick and get yourself some royalties for that.

Dave: You know what’s happened though, is now that we’re back in the states and we’re very nostalgic for India, we are actually, the opposite, we’re like attracted to people. Whenever we see an Indian we kind of want to start talking to them and mention, oh yeah, we used to live in India. You know, we use to love the food there, we were big fans of the food. Why don’t you invite us over for some home cooking?

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: And so we had some very comical moments since we’ve been back, and especially, so before we moved to the Bay Area, we lived in Denver, and there were no good Indian restaurants in Denver. At least here, you know, there’s incredible Indian food here. Back there there’s no good Indian restaurants. We were desperate for some good Indian food. So we would see – I remember once we were walking around the Botanical Gardens in Denver and we saw and Indian family with the Indian grandma and grandpa and we knew they were from India, we could hear them talking. So we were saddling – or I was saddling up to them, and Jenny was very embarrassed about it but kind of walking very closely, very slowly by, hoping I could hear something that might spark a conversation or maybe they’d ask me to take their photo so that, you know, I could ask where they’re from and, I think actually at one point I did get to take, I offered to take their photo, I took their photo, and then I said something to them in Hindi, and they said excuse me? And I said something else in Hindi. And they said, or are you speaking Hindi? And I said, yeah I’m speaking Hindi. They said, oh, we don’t speak that.

Shyam: Yeah.

Dave: And then they took their phone, or their camera, and walked away.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: So I did not eat good Indian food that night.

Shyam: (laughs) it’s interesting you mention the quality of Indian food in the Bay Area. I think it’s pretty amazing too how much variety it is and how good it is. Do you want to mention your favorite spot or two, maybe they’re listening and –

Dave: Sure.

Shyam: – want to give you a free meal the next time you go there?

Dave: Oh, I would hope so. We are big fans of Saravana Bhavan. We were –

Shyam: Who isn’t? (laughs)

Dave: Yes. We actually, we were big fans of them when we were in Delhi. That’s where –

Shyam: Do they have one in there?

Dave: They do. They have two branches –

Shyam: Oh.

Dave: – at the time at least, they have two branches in (unintelligible) and we went there and we fell in love. We went to the, their global chain, we went to the one in Singapore when we moved there. We were very excited they had it in Singapore. But it was just awful.

Shyam: Hmm.

Dave: It was surprisingly bad.

Shyam: Wow.

Dave: Which was a big disappointment to us.

Shyam: Everything, not just the (unintelligible), everything was bad?

Dave: First of all, they had North Indian food there, which they shouldn’t have. That’s a South Indian restaurant.

Shaym: Exactly. That’s blasphemous.

Dave: Exactly right. So we had some food there, it just wasn’t good at all. So we gave up on that and then we came here and we thought, okay, we’ll try it again, and sure enough, the one here is just as good as the one – but they don’t have the Aapams and coconut milk.

Shyam: Oh.

Dave: Which the one in Delhi had.

Shyam: Got it.

Dave: And that was our favorite part of it. So if you’re listening, owners of Saravana Bhavan, please add Aapams and coconut milk to your menu and we will come even more often.

Shyam: Got it. Lastly, I just wanted to ask about the book. I finished reading it and I could not recommend it more strongly for anyone who’s interested in an Indian experience. I think it’s in fact more interesting for someone who grew up in India and is now in the U.S. because what you did is exactly the opposite and you kind of see parallels that – it’s very hard to find parallels to this sort of an experience. So can you tell people listening to this if they’re in the U.S. or in the Bay Area or anywhere in the U.S., where can they find it, how can they order it?

Dave: Actually, at this point you can find it in – well, as of June 4th you should be able to order it globally inside and outside of India on Amazon, you know, it will be in bookstores, it will be in Barnes & Noble, if you’re global, it will be on the Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, it’ll be in Singapore, it’ll be in Australia, it’s actually going to be distributed quite widely, so anywhere you could buy books I think you should be able to buy it –

Shyam: After June 4th.

Dave: – After June 4th or given the vagaries of global distribution, sometime within the month of June.

Shyam: Got it.

Dave: Should you have any trouble in your country or your location, go to and send me an email and I’ll help you figure it out.

Shyam: Got it. Can people get it for e-readers as well or do they have to buy a hard copy?

Dave: Yeah, there will be an e-book. And the cool thing about this version is it’s going to have pictures.

Shyam: Oh, nice.

Dave: The India version did not have pictures. This one has 24 pages of color photos to help you have a richer and more visceral reading experience.

Shyam: Got it. Anything else you want to add about the book or anything else people should know about the book?

Dave: Only that if each Indian in the world buys one, then I’ll make a little bit of money. So, please do.

Shyam: (laughs)

Dave: (laughs)

Shyam: Thank you, Dave. Congratulations on the book. It’s really well written. It’s such a fun read. Best of luck with the sales and the growth of the book in the U.S. Do you have any book tours planned? Are you planning to go to any book stores in the Bay Area or in the U.S.?

Dave: So far the only thing scheduled is in September in Denver at the Tattered Cover, which is the bog book store out there. I am certainly hoping to have something in the Bay Area, but we haven’t put anything together yet.

Shyam: Okay. Thank you very much Dave. It was wonderful talking to you and the best of luck with everything.

Dave: Thank you.


2 Responses to “A conversation with Dave Prager – Author of Delirious Delhi: Inside India’s Incredible Capital”

  1. Deb

    Excellent and interesting interview Shyam and Dave! Can’t wait to read it.

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