Conversation with Mushir ul Hasan on my book

Last year, my book was released in Delhi. The video and transcript of the discussion have been uploaded now.

Mushir ul Hasan: I’m delighted to be associated with the launch of this book; however, I believe that the subtitle of the book could have been a touch different. ‘The impressions of a Pakistani traveller’ – immediately creates an image in my mind of the ‘distinct other’, and I think it is this sense that we’re probably trying to do away with here. One of the strengths of this book lies with the fact that it does try to bridge the intellectual and cultural gap that exists, or has been created, since both country’s gained independence in 1947.delhi-by-heart-cover21.jpg

I particularly noticed the fact that Raza doesn’t actually look at Delhi, its cultural profile and its social profile as an outsider or someone who hails from Pakistan. He demonstrates empathy and respect for the city and has knowledge of the city’s development and its growth. According to me, he relied on skill and intuition to study some of the features of this city – particularly those of you who have read the sections on the Sufi shrines. They’re not only informative to many readers, but evocative at the same time, and yet in a certain sense, they also represent, the true character and complexion of this diverse city. I would like to thank Mr. Raza for writing a book about ‘our city’; as it is a very lively, vivid and comprehensive narrative.

I would also want to bring to the attention of academicians, that in order to understand the book, one needs to draw a distinction between academic and journalistic writing. The thin line that divides the two is blurred nowadays, which is why I would be glad to recommend your book to my students to understand what eloquent and comprehensive writing is all about. The book has a considerable amount of interesting insights, with the exception of certain sections.

The book is incisive from the outset and it looks at a city through a holistic lens. To eloquently describe its history, its past and its present without having lived here is a commendable effort and I am lending my voice and my views, to the number of reviews that have already appeared in the newspapers, regarding the book. Almost all the reviews that I have read are very interesting and I do hope that this book will go a long way in familiarizing Raza’s countrymen and our countrymen with the vibrancy of this city, its multifaceted personality and the manner in which Delhi has grown over the centuries. Thank you once again, for writing such a good book.

Read full transcript and watch video on my blog “Delhi by Heart

  • Hilal Ahmed

    Just finished reading your excellent book under review. Brought back memories of my grand mother’s residence known as “Khalida Begum ki Haveli” located in Kucha Nawab Mirza, Mohalla Fatehpuri. To reach it, one had to leave the tonga at the main round and walk quite a distance along winding lanes, covered “chattas”. The next door house belonged to some relatives of Imam Bukhari and it’s claim to fame was that a British canon ball had landed in it’s “sehan” during the 1857 uprising. Farther down was a house in which lived the descendants of Dipty Nazir Ahmed.

    You have written extensively the cuisine of Delhi. However, perhaps you never came across “shab degh” a dish that contains radishes and “koftas. It was served only at night, hence the name.

    “Khichidi” too is eaten at night along with various achars and chutneys and is one of my favourite dishes.

    I am curious and in search of an authentic recipe book of Mughal times, “Nemat Nama”

    By the way my grand mother was well known to Sadia Dehalvi’s family, especially the late Yunus Dehalvi and also to Khawaja Hassan Nizami.

    Talking of Delhi literati, How about Allama Rashidul Khairi?

    My gm was a great character and once stopped the motorcade of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to make a complaint about the then Chief Commissioner of Delhi.

  • Raza

    Hilal Saheb: How wonderful that you read the book and commented. Indeed the gems you related will help me find more when I visit next. I will try to include these in the third edition – if and when it comes out. regards, R