Letter: West’s condescension on show in Sherlock mash-up

As anyone who’s read Jamyang Norbu’s The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes will know, after his apparent death at the Reichenbach Falls, Holmes travels to Tibet in the company of Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, the Bengali Babu from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.

The great detective, obviously working on his “selfish bastard” qualities (“The elementary appeal of Sherlock Holmes”, Life & Arts, FT Weekend, October 3), is last seen as the incarnate lama of a monastery.

Norbu’s book, a clever and affectionate mash-up, was published in 1999. At the time, Norbu, based in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, gave an interview to an Indian newspaper in which he said that westerners have a reductive tendency to view Tibetans like dolphins, ie cutely endangered.

After that, this reader deduced what was really being sent up wasn’t colonial authors but modern western condescension.

Every era has its flaws.

Fionnuala McHugh
Hong Kong

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