Skip To Content

    51 Stunning Lines From Indian Literature

    "That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet." - The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri.

    1. "God save us from people who mean well."

    —Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

    2. "‎No people whose word for 'yesterday' is the same as their word for 'tomorrow' can be said to have a firm grip on the time."

    —Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

    3. "This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt."

    —Arundhati Roy, The God Of Small Things


    5. "The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability."

    —Arundhati Roy, War Talk

    6. "The trouble with liberal democracy is that it takes a long time to mature."

    —Mulk Raj Anand, The Private Life of an Indian Prince

    7. "Life essentially seeks out balance. I have found that it is in the habit of trading one sorrow for one joy until one cancels out the other."

    —Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, The Last Song of Dusk


    9. "We are men without ambition, and all we want is to be left alone, in peace so that we can try and be happy. So few people will understand this simplicity."

    —Upamanyu Chatterjee, English, August: An Indian Story

    10. "And it was strange, I thought, that sorrow lasts and can make a man look forward to death, but the mood of victory fills a moment and then is over."

    —V. S. Naipaul, One Out Of Many

    11. "Flags are bits of coloured cloth that governments use to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead."

    —Arundhati Roy, War Talk


    13. "I lie in my bed and listen to her cough and am glad she is coughing because this means she is alive. Soon she will die, and I will no longer be among the lucky people whose wives are sick. Fortunate are the men whose wives cough. Fortunate are the men who cannot sleep through the night because their wives' coughing wakes them."

    —Akhil Sharma, Family Life

    14. "A person of "good character" was one who acted in accordance with the expectations of his community."

    —Sheena Iyengar, The Art of Choosing

    15. "The gods grow jealous of too much contentment anywhere, and they show their displeasure all of a sudden."

    —R. K. Narayan, Malgudi Days


    17. "That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet."

    —Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

    18. "At times there's something so precise and mathematically chilling about nationalism. Build a dam to take away water AWAY from 40 million people. Build a dam to pretend to BRING water to 40 million people. Who are these gods that govern us? Is there no limit to their powers?"

    —Arundhati Roy, The Cost Of Living

    19. "I found Bombay and opium, the drug and the city, the city of opium and the drug Bombay."

    —Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis


    21. "It is in the nature of democracies, perhaps, that while visionaries are sometimes necessary to make them, once made they can be managed by mediocrities."

    —Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi

    22. "Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect."

    —Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

    23. "The only dream worth having, I told her, is to dream that you will live while you're alive and die only when you're dead."

    —Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living


    25. "From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable."

    —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

    26. "Pet names are a persistent remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated."

    —Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

    27. "Can't you ever be serious?' I said, mortified. 'It's difficult,' he said. 'There's so little in life that's worth it."

    —Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Palace of Illusions


    29. "'That's why Indian women fall ill,' Em said. 'So that their husbands will hold their hands."

    —Jerry Pinto, Em And The Big Hoom

    30. "The sovereign way to personal freedom is to help determine the forces that determine you."

    —A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Wings Of Fire

    31. "We may not have sewage, drinking water, and Olympic gold medals, but we do have democracy."

    —Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger


    33. "God had the males of the world neatly divided: the can-dos and the no-can-dos. To that he'd added a third category: 'the gandus'."

    —Shobhaa Dé, Sultry Days

    34. "Words are tricky. Sometimes you need them to bring out the hurt festering inside. If you don't, it turns gangrenous and kills you... But sometimes, words can break a feeling into pieces."

    —Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Queen of Dreams

    35. "You can cry in public as long as you do not sob. Tears are transparent. If you're walking fast, if the sun's too strong, no one notices. Sobs intrude. They push their way into people's consciousness. They feel duty-bound to ask what has happened."

    —Jerry Pinto, Em And The Big Hoom


    37. "But I too hate long books: the better, the worse. If they're bad they merely make me pant with the effort of holding them up for a few minutes. But if they're good, I turn into a social moron for days, refusing to go out of my room, scowling and growling at interruptions, ignoring weddings and funerals, and making enemies out of friends."

    —Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy

    38. "His ignorance seemed to widen with everything he read."

    ―V. S. Naipaul, Half a Life

    39. "I just don't see why having these powers makes it necessary for all of us to become politicians, warriors, social workers, whatever. We would have tried it before if we really wanted to do it. None of us chose to spend our lives helping people before we got our powers — why should we do it now? Because comics say we should?"

    —Samit Basu, Turbulence


    41. "Let nobody fool you, most couples are conjoined on earth.

    The mismatches, now they are a different story. They are made in heaven."

    —Kiran Nagarkar, Cuckold

    42. "There is nothing more critical than to exercise the generosity to let something end with the grace it started with."

    —Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, The Last Song of Dusk

    43. "The fate of every love story, he knew very well, is in the rot of togetherness, or in the misery of separation. Lovers often choose the first with the same illusory wisdom that makes people choose to die later than now."

    —Manu Joseph, Serious Men


    45. "As I grew older, and more experienced in my profession, I recognised that every achievement would provoke a round of antipathy; it just came with the turf."

    —Barkha Dutt, This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines

    46. "Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy success."

    —A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, You Are Born To Blossom

    47. "All our stories...they're the same. In fact, no matter where you go in the world, there is only one important story: of youth, loss and yearning for redemption. So we tell the same story, over and over. Only the details are different."

    —Rohinton Mistry, Family Matters


    50. "Anybody can be decisive during a panic; it takes a strong man to act during a boom."

    —V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

    49. "Morality was probably the invention of unattractive men. Whom else does it benefit really?"

    —Manu Joseph, The Illicit Happiness of Other People

    51. "If you want to leave your footprints on the sands of time, do not drag your feet."

    —A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Wings Of Fire