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Tea Leaves

The positive side of 'cultural appropriation'

Instead of being condemned, cross-cultural perspectives should be embraced

Indian students wear Japanese kimono during an event organized by the India-Japan Initiative in Mumbai in April 2005. In order to better understand the world, we need cross-cultural perspectives.   © Reuters

I am an Indian writer -- in that I was born and largely educated in India -- yet most of my work has been about other countries and cultures. I am aware, therefore, of the potential charge of cultural appropriation that hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles every time I publish a book about Chinese cats, or Indonesian clerics, or in the latest instance, Japan.

What right do I -- an Indian woman -- have to squeeze a foreign "nation" as subtle and unique as Japan within the covers of a book? How dare I lay claim to what does not belong to me?

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