Sunday, August 8, 2010

Voice of Dilli

Mahmood Farooqui’s book shows how ordinary residents of Delhi lived out the 1857 uprising

1857 was an unsettling time to be in Delhi. Life, as Dilliwallas lived it, was changing fast. Gambling had been made illegal, as was the sale of opium. You couldn’t play drums during Muharram and kite and pigeon flying was banned. Lead was contraband and one could be detained if caught travelling with it. These arresting vignettes and much more, are part of Besieged: Voices From Delhi 1857 (Penguin India, Rs 699), a work of compilation and translation by Mahmood Farooqui. The book is based on The Mutiny Papers, a collection of documents mainly dealing with Delhi in 1857 stored at the National Archives of India.

“The ordinary people of Delhi were going through a momentous period in history” says Farooqui. “But the troubles and ordeals they faced have been appropriated in writing a national narrative, in legitimising the state,” he says. “They might not have wanted that narrative,” he adds. Farooqui had embarked on the project of researching the papers at the insistence of writer William Dalrymple.

Full report here Indian Express

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