During my trip, I took part in Bombay's annual book festival. You're all criminals under Section 377.” That's the provision of the Indian Penal Code which forbids not just gay sex, but any sexual act other than penile-vaginal intercourse.
It's meant that youngsters just out of college can get well paid jobs free of parental pressure.Suddenly you have all these young people earning as much or more than their parents, and that's been a lifeline for lots of young queer people in cities like Bombay and Bangalore.” Vikram also points to the liberating impact of the internet, with its dating sites and social media replacing the hazards of cruising and the risks of extortion gangs and police entrapment.Somewhere in between there are loving portraits of the three cities of the title.The result is not so much a well-cooked biryani, where different ingredients are synthesised into a holistic meal, but more a juicy, multi-layered club sandwich. He manages to pull the different strands of his narrative – the autobiography, the anxieties of the writer in exile, the evolution of indigenous varieties of Indianness in London and New York – with considerable success.And yet India, always a land of contradictions, allows Gay Pride marches in most major cities, has vibrant gay pressure groups and publications and officially accepts people who are transgender.
When I grew up in India's most cosmopolitan city, Bombay, in the 1960s, the very mention of homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely no one was “out”.With a shrewd combination of bhangra, Bollywood and Booker prizes, the Indians created a home away from home.In Bombay-London-New York, Amitava Kumar, who teaches English at Penn State University, tells the story of how that magical transformation took place: how India colonised the West and brought it a step closer to genuine multiculturalism.Bombay is India's Big Apple and, like London or New York, is now a magnet for young people wanting to live exciting new lives free of their families.The northern suburbs are home to many of the thriving call centres we love to hate; and the anonymity and freedom they offer has been particularly valuable for young gay jobseekers.In the world's largest democracy, homosexual activity is still a crime punishable by life imprisonment.