December 8, 2007
Dear Mrs. Murty,
When I was six years old, we moved to America. At that time, I didn't know anything about the American people and their customs, but I soon learned. One instance was when my first grade teacher asked me what kind of sandwich I liked best. Back then, I didn't even know what a sandwich was let alone knowing all the different types. At that time, I realized how much I had to learn about this new country that I had arrived in.
After reading your book seven years later, I recognized how little I knew about my own country and in particular, my native state of Karnataka. I cannot name all the other states or their general location on a map so my knowledge was very limited. However, I know that India is a nation that is quickly progressing but the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing in the quest for becoming modernized. These impecunious people are calling out for help and I can now fully appreciate the effort that organizations like the Infosys Foundation are putting forth to assist them.
Since reading this book, I have become increasingly aware of India as it was in your time and the way it is today. Every time my family and I make the physically taxing but rewarding journey to India, I can see the changes taking place even as we drive home from the airport. There is more traffic with cars and bikes squeezing past the other vehicles to get to their destination. In some cases, conditions are the same. Pitiful beggars are still visible on street corners and litter is ever-present on the roads. In spite of all this, it is discernible to see how India has progressed, how large malls and business centers have cropped up and foreign cars are more apparent with every visitation.
I consider it my duty to find out more about the different states of India and their accomplishments. Many of the books my father had gotten for me from India have lain forgotten in cardboard boxes from when we moved to Iowa. Before that, when we lived in Massachusetts, they were forgotten at the bottom of my bookcase a few months after they were presented to me. My father always put special emphasis on math and science books but bought English, geography, and countless others too. I can remember working in an Indian geography book just once and looking at the map. I can recall being totally confused with what I thought were absurd questions, like what the major exports were for each state or the major rivers. It was the basis for another revelation, when I decided to unearth the geography book and finish the activities that I had abandoned years ago. It took the simple language and lessons from your book for me to comprehend what I had thrown away and make amends.
While reading Wise and Otherwise for the first time, I began crying at some of the stories; especially the one about a man dumping his 70-year-old father in a nursing home, claiming him to be a complete stranger. I made myself a promise that when I grew older, I would never do some of the things that the people in the stories did. I found I could relate to almost all the stories in some way and it has been one of the most touching and enlightening books I have ever read.