Another Drain Inspector’s Report

Writing in the First Post, Sean Thomas presents a diary of his visit to Kolkata, and no doubt thinks he’s doing groundbreaking journalism by pointing out how poor some Kolkatans are, in contrast with the affluence others enjoy. Two sample entries:

17:50 See that behind me is a man naked from the waist down, in the process of soiling himself; his loins are a mass of scarlet sores and his wounds are seething with flies. Realise the man is dying.

22:30 Have dinner in hotel restaurant of softshell crab in brandy sauce, accompanied by Chilean shiraz.

There’s nothing quite as bracing as poverty pornography, eh? These contrasts are the biggest clichés of foreign journalism about India, and Thomas would have done better telling the stories instead of painting the images, and examining the causes of that poverty instead of showing us that it’s there, which we already know. But maybe he had a flight to catch, and didn’t have the time.

(Link via email from Salil Tripathi, who correctly compares Thomas to Katherine Mayo—which is where my headline comes from.)