Among my favorite authors assuredly belongs Kipling, the engineer's poet. Kipling is often derided as an imperialist, but he was both popular and critically acclaimed in his day. His use of dialect is part of the reason he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but also for his love of his subjects.
I took a course in Asian history in college. There was a 5-week section on India, but I think I learnt more of what India is really like from Kim. Kipling captured the color and energy and maddening diversity of India in that book, and I think it was the better introduction.
Among my favorites:
Do you wish to make the mountains bare their head
And lay their new-cut forests at your feet ?
Do you want to turn a river in its bed,
Or plant a barren wilderness with wheat ?
Shall we pipe aloft and bring you water down
From the never-failing cisterns of the snows,
To work the mills and tramways in your town,
And irrigate your orchards as it flows ?
It is easy! Give us dynamite and drills!
Watch the iron-shouldered rocks lie down and quake,
As the thirsty desert-level floods and fills,
And the valley we have dammed becomes a lake.
But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
If you make a slip in handling us you die!
We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings -
Be humble, as you crawl beneath our rods! -
Our touch can alter all created things,
We are everything on earth - except The Gods!