Saturday, January 02, 2010


this, i gotta have...

the last book that i finished in 2009 was a dark and darkly comic memoir nothing to be frightened of by julian barnes and as the last minutes of 2009 ticked away i was reading william darlymple's city of djinns: a year in delhi. both incidently are about death and decay. the former a personal decay and the later a city.

it is perhaps fitting that you end a year with books about decay . this is not to say that they are all melancholy and sadness as both have comic moments. although both books' leit motif is decay they were very funny in their own ways.

an example from julian barnes:

Renard recorded in his Journal the death of Tolouse-Lautrec. The painter's father , a known eccentric , came to visit his son and instead of concerning himself with the patient immediately started trying to catch the flies circulating in the sick room. The painter, from his bed, remarked, 'You stupid old bugger', then fell back and died.

and here from william dalrymple's city of jinns.

Ibn Batutta had few expectations of India. The Hindus, he knew, at least refrained from eating pigs (unlike the Chinese or the disgusting Christians of Byzantium), but he had heard that they had other habits the very thought of which made him swoon. "The Hindus venerate oxen' he wrote, 'and it is said that they actually drink the oxen's urine when they fall sick.' Later, on witnessing a sati (the immolation of a Hindu widow) , Ibn Batutta was so shocked he nearly fell off his camel.

and in city of djinns: a year in delhi mr dalrymple mentioned a novel Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali. and commented that the brilliance of this book was immediately recognized by both E.M Forster and Virginia Woolf.

again. from the city of Djinns:

Twillight in Delhi is not only a very fine novel , it is also an irreplaceable record of the vanished life and culture of pre-war Delhi.

mr dalrymple was impressed enough to go and seek the author who was still living in karachi at the time , an angry beaten old man. and i will be travelling to delhi again in february and i would certainly go and look for this book. i usually never like book recommendations by anybody but books mentioned in books that you like always pique my interest. and this i gotta have. for one thing india to me is one of the most fascinating countries in the world and there's nothing better to get my islamic extremist blood boiling than visiting all those mughal tombs and buildings in delhi and agra, still mejestic and proud looking although a mere shell of their former glory.

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