I can’t put this one down

I emerged yesterday morning from a weeks-long writing assignment  – a first draft of an original story, explaining my dearth of posts this fall – and woke up with the lost feeling that I had nothing to write. So I caught up on what everybody’s talking about.

First there was the Gawker essay “On Smarm,” more on which in a future post. Then there was “Duck Dynasty.” Don’t care. Not when there’s the Devyani Khobragade affair, in which the second highest official at the Indian consulate in New York got arrested for falsifying information on a visa application for her domestic servant and tried getting away with paying her $3.31 an hour.

As a reader, I enjoy a good scandal more than I enjoy a great novel, and I can’t put this one down. Rediff.com has the best coverage, but a lot of Indian sources are calling it a pre-meditated U.S. government conspiracy.  “Devyani Khobragade, the diplomat who was publicly handcuffed, arrested and subjected to indecent body searches and locked up with lumpen drug addicts and other convicts…could have inadvertently compromised Indian security by harbouring a mole in her domestic establishment,” as the English-Hindi website niticentral.com phrased it.


This strikes me as bullshit, but it has lots of great story elements in it. Diplomats, families, competing jurisdictions, and conflicting ethical bottom lines. People begin with simple acts of self-interest, then their personal loyalties and matters of principle line up to compel them to escalate a conflict. The character who ends up smelling like a rose (at least to the American nose) is U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

I’m going to call it right now: He will be the first Asian-American governor of New York or New Jersey (his home state). He holds the same office Rudy Giuiliani once held, but he’s a Democrat with a unique credential concerning the defining domestic issue of our time: the privileges of the 1%. And his name is relatively easy to pronounce! If you ever see a photo of him at at a duck hunting party upstate, you’ll know why.

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