“The Age of Shiva” by Manil Suri

I enjoyed , “The Age of Shiva” (2008) the first book I have read by the US-based Indian-born writer, Manil Suri. I loved the book, admiring the author for his fascinating eye for detail about family life in middle-class North India. Having read this, I plan to seek out the two other books in his trilogy namely, “The Death of Vishnu” (2001) and “The City of Devi” (2013). Continue reading ““The Age of Shiva” by Manil Suri”

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“Durbar” by Tavleen Singh

I have always liked books by Tavleen Singh and this one was no exception.  The aptly named, “Durbar” is a breezy read about Lutyens Delhi as it now is popularly called, where the high and mighty of India meet in exclusive social circles of which at one time she was a prominent member. The book is about the period from 1975 when she first became a journalist to around 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India was assassinated.

In those days, far more than now, the school you went to, the university you attended and the way you spoke English mattered more and often determined whether you could become part of exclusive social circles. Tavleen happened to be one of those who was a part of, what we would now term a social network, which included prominent politicians like Naveen Patnaik ( who later became, and indeed still is, the Chief Minister of Orissa), and Dr Farooq Abdullah, (later Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir). They were amongst her close friends. She thus came to be part of a social circle which included the then Prime Minster Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv, and his Italian wife, Sonia. This book, in some measure, is a story of the Gandhis of Delhi. Continue reading ““Durbar” by Tavleen Singh”

“The Last Mughal ” by William Dalrymple

“The Last Mughal” by William Dalrymple is about “the fall of a dynasty. Delhi. 1857”. The dynasty in question is, of course, the Mughal dynasty, founded by Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur in 1526  by defeating Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat . After ruling large parts of India for centuries, the Mughal Empire shrank over time and with the advent of the British by the 1850s was a spent force. Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862) was Emperor in name only. However, in the eyes of many he still remained a rallying point as he was the Khalifa, God’s Regent on earth. Continue reading ““The Last Mughal ” by William Dalrymple”