City of Djinns

Delhi – City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

My Inc’read’able India Project has brought me to the Nation’s capital, Delhi! A place profound for its richness in culture, art, and heritage. A city that many fell in love with was built to be the center from which India has branched out to become what it is today. The City of Djinns: A year in Delhi by William Dalrymple has been a fantastic ship that I cruised on to enjoy the city.

Dalrymple in this book too has wonderfully crafted the flow of the book that gets the reader totally involved and immersed in his quest to unravel the hidden mysteries of the city. To get merged into the crowd and to find shelter in chaos can happen only in Delhi and only in this book.

To be honest, I expected a book that would be a maximum of 200 pages and something that I could finish in a fortnight. My mentality was, that it is just a city, not as wide and big as the others states of the nation. Before I could even open the package from Amazon, I knew that this was no ordinary book that I can complete just like that.

The western thoughts and the ideas have flooded Delhi, forcing the author to widen the books reach to the maximum possible corners. I have also had the luck of visiting this city in the recent past, and that added this vividness while reading the text as well. I remember walking down Chandni Chowk, the crowded market known today. Cycle rickshaws, narrowly avoiding from converting the market into an arena to play bump cars! The same place, a few hundred years ago, sold everything you could name. Precious stones, food, clothes and what not! Amidst the unrest, you could smell a good amount of urea from the unkempt public toilets, and if you know the right guy, you could go into the harem of today’s world. But overlooking all this is the red fort. After visiting the Red Fort, my friend and I took the metro to go to a mall. Inside it, we felt we were in a lego block.

Delhi, India, was always known to be richness in architecture and culture. The Britishers’ love at first sight. Rising from a position of ambassadors to a position that ruled the entire nation was not just money! In fact, after independence, some Britishers chose to stay back, because they knew where their home was. We all have to thank Lutyens who planned the alluring city. Standing there, near the India Gate, you feel this sense of pride for being a part of this nation. Such is the magnificence of the buildings, the roads, and even the gardens.

The Mughals too held their super power in this city. The book gave enough and a lot more on how they ruled and what each monument signified. If I were to travel again, I would take this book as a tour guide. The royal lineage still enjoys the city and has no heart of giving up the place.

The author then talks about the Indian epic, the Mahabharata as there is evidence that shows that the legend could be authentic to a certain extent. There is a theory that, over the ages, people just dramatized the entire story, but the skeleton is true.

William Dalrymple through this book has wonderfully taken me back into the genesis of the city. I was in a time travel loop as I was experiencing the city live and zooming into history and back again to the present because of this book. As I was walking in the Lodhi Gardens, I felt connected. Birds by the dozen, giving you a musical feast, people walking their dogs, some for exercise, and there you are amidst monuments that are standing tall and proud. Delhi makes you comfortable and at home. Who wouldn’t love this place?

If you look at history when people tried moving the city, or rebuilding it, they have lost power. The Britishers, the Mughals and even in the Mahabharata. Could it be a curse that is bestowed on this city?

Work of a Djinn? Maybe…

The MAK tip from the book is,

Rome was not built in one day. In that sense, no city can be built in one day. Delhi is what it is today because it has been standing mighty for all these years. It has evolved over a millennium revolutionizing the way we think about the city. Wonder takes time, all you got to do is be consistent and patient.

For more from my Inc’read’able India Project, click here.

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