William Dalrymple as a realist story-teller

William Dalrymple is a great modern historian. He was a very popular History Exhibitioner at illustrious Trinity College, Cambridge University. He is also a great storyteller, narrator, journalist, historian and a very keen traveller. His travelogues are so popular and amazingly narrative that they have become a part of literature.
In 1989, Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for five years, researching for his second very popular book, ‘ City of Djinns’, which won 1994, Thomas Cook Travel Cook Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. He came to India as a journalist of the Sunday Times but he excelled in history, journalism, literature, Indo-logy, research and tale related with India.
In the ‘City of Djinns’, he very realistically narrated the fast-changing Delhi with the description of the psychology and behaviour of people of Delhi. He found Delhi changing fast, however parts of the city still preserved the ways of Mughals, their eating habits, their attire, their festivals, their construction designs etc.
In the late twentieth century, he found, not only, the Mughal order crumbling but the romantic world of the freedom struggle, cosy world of Congress and Nehruvian Non-Aligned Movement too.
…the cosy world of the Freedom Struggle, of homespun Congress Socialism and the Non-aligned Movement-all of it was going down. (City of Djinns)
All was lost and going downward down. However, the new generation was very restless in the old system and found it very out of date and useless. It has no faith and hope in those old romantic ideas of socialism. Now, Japanese, designed Maruti cars, big shopping malls, high rise complexes, and multi-national companies have forced out all the old hollow ideals. Satellite dishes are now out-numbering the religious places. Now for the neo-riches London and New York become Simla.
Designer flats replaced old big bungalows. The huge blocks of Connaught Circus, Rajah Man Singh, the Jantar Mantar etc saw dwarfed by the neighbouring high-rise towns. The beautiful Meridian Hotel was especially charmed the writer, built near the Lutyens’s Viceroy’s House to India Gate.
The name changing game or the re-naming of the old places like Kasturba Gandhi Marg that was originally Curzon Road pulled the attention of the narrator. All the old palatial buildings were neglected or poorly maintained. The buildings constructed by the British government were in bad shape. People were very critical of this mindless development. People were apprehensive that not one private Lutyens bungalow would be there by the end of the century.
It has become a fashion among the rich and educated liberals to show the western goods and ideas in a very careless manner. Even the writer was shocked to see the loss of morals. ‘Adulterous couples’ and ‘condom advertisements’ filled the public gardens, historical places in Delhi. The writer noted with distress the fall of ‘the last bastion of the chaperoned virgin’, ‘to the double-locked bedroom’ and ‘arranged marriages’ were ‘filled with love’, holding hands lovers loitering everywhere. ‘Delhi was started to unbutton.’
Adulterous couples now filled the public gardens; condom advertisements dominated the Delhi skyline. The Indian capital, once the last bastion of chaperoned virgins, the double-locked bedrooms and the arranged marriages were slowly filling with lovers,…….Delhi was starting to unbutton.
( City of Djinns)
Old high moral would be lost and collapsed and a new valueless system filled with darkness and darkness, gripped the; lives of the Indians. Apart from morals, it is the pollution of Delhi – air, water, river Yamuna, which found a special mention. William Dalrymple was a true lover of nature. The loss of natural beauty and richness equally disturbed him.
The writer was also a bitter critic of mindless and aimless migration to Delhi. Migrants, beggars, jhuggis, rampant unauthorized construction, encroachments, etc became a big problem and filth in Delhi. The authorities were not doing anything to stop and remove this menace.
With all these drastic and changes, the noticeable change in the behaviour of people was very irritating. Middle-class people became very selfish and intolerant. The great ‘Hindu qualities of assimilation and acceptance’ became a subject of mockery and weakness. Even educated people became intolerant fascists. The behaviour of Muslims found a special mention here. All wanted Muslims to be disciplined and tolerant. This was a very common topic of discussion and concern in the drawing rooms of the middle class in Delhi.
The narrator noticed that Muslims were openly appeased and pampered by the ruling Congress party and government and for a very long period, this policy has made them fanatic and lawless. The growing population of Muslims was a big concern everywhere. This appeasement policy was responsible for a sense of communal divide and unrest in the city.

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