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Delhi for its Inmates

Paresh Kumar

By Supriya Sahai
Harper Collins India, 2010, pp. 155, Rs.299.00


It is notoriously easy to dislike Delhi. It is a fast, arrogant, ugly urban sprawl lacking basic infrastructure. It is populated largely by immigrants who are too busy getting ahead to notice the city or to make room for anyone. It is a city that forces its association on you and overwhelms you with a shameless brio. Most people who spend time in Delhi are just too bothered by it to make an effort to get to know the city. Nobody loves Delhi. Supriya Sahai seems to think that Delhi deserves better. With its historical and cultural moorings it deserves to be noticed, appreciated, wooed. And her book Delhi on the Road is an attempt to make that happen. The book is a series of skillfully executed line drawings in black and white. The sketches though economical are very good at capturing the atmosphere of the surroundings. Like the kohl lined eyes of a Delhi belle each drawing gives just enough away. Seeing the sketch makes you want to visit the place. Most of the drawings in the book focus on the many monuments that are scattered around Delhi. The first few sketches in the book give the reader a crash course on Delhi history. As the book takes you through a millennia in a few pages a resident of Delhi cannot fail to be impressed. Supriya then sketches the remnants of Delhi's colonial past in North Delhi, takes a whimsical detour into West Delhi jumping right back onto the streets and walls of Old Delhi. Sketches in New Delhi, South Delhi and Mehrauli follow these drawings. Most sketches are accompanied by a brief write-up explaining the whereabouts and the signifi-cance of what has been drawn. Delhi on the Road is not exactly Delhi on the road. It is more a love-letter to the Delhi of yesterday. It's not comprehensive. It is not systematic. It doesn’t exactly have an agenda. But what it does have is spirit. This is not a book that targets the scholar, it is not exclusively published for the foreign tourist either. It is not that of a William Dalrymple nor Khushwant Singh. Though it is a book for the Delhiwalla. For you and me, who reside in this city but are too pressed for time to get to know her. Well, take fifteen minutes out from your busy schedule my city-mate. And browse through ...

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