William Dalrymple: The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters



It is depressing but in a ood way The writing style is fantastic and showcases the amount of research done by Dalrymple He is serious enough to o to places and interview people only some would dare to and that s why it presents an unbiased truth He covers the whole subcontinent and interviews well known personalities like Imran Khan Lalu Prasad Yadav Benazir Bhutto to name a few The book paints a very sad but true picture and covers the last decade of 20th century India It is a ood read for anybody who is from India or is interested in knowing how a nation plunges into the Age of Kali This is not the first William Dalrymple book about India that I have read and I sincerely hope it won t be the last Like City of Djinns A Year in Delhi The Age of Kali Indian Travels Encounters is a fascinating book about the Indian subcontinent its religions history politics everything The Age of Kali is a book of essays that takes in several states of northern India Rajasthan Bombay the South Sri Lanka Goa Pakistan and even the distant Isle of R union technically a part of FranceWhether he is talking about Benazir Bhutto he was not impressed the caste wars between Brahmins and various Harijans the continuing practice of sati suttee or widow burning Noah's Ark gang rape or the decline of the Old India he is always interesting Detailed review coming upEdit Full reviewIndia is a country of suchreat culture and over centuries of invasions and fights for freedom we as a country have emerged as a powerful plethora of multitude of wonders The Age of Kali is one such view of this country through Dalrymple s lens as well as a short The Billionaires Secret Marriage The Hart Sisters Trilogy glimpse into the neighboring Pakistan Dalrymple is witty humorous and I might just add extremely brave Encapsulating the essence that is India in a few 400 pages in the manner in which he has takes a rare talent The book is impeccably researched The present is presented with the context of its past and even if you have very less idea of the vivid history Dalrymple makes it fun and interesting in his own way The topics covered range from the political ascent of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar to Rajmata of Gwalior Kingdom of Avadh the sad story of Bhavri Devi in Rajasthan caste wars and the practice of Sati Mata theradual progression of Bombay into a city of dreams Bangalore s initial retaliation to foreign takeover in the form of protests against KFC and Miss World Lucknow s immensely sad history and death of culture to the Goddess Parashakti in the South It then slowly takes us towards the story of the formation of LTTE in Sri Lanka and the invasion of Goa The last 2 chapters are dedicated to Pakistan specifically Imran Khan and Benazir Bhutto I am basically in awe of the writing and the fact that Dalrymple has such immaculate observational skills Also he presents the facts without any bias Of course inherently I could read between the lines and my own biases did crop up since the topic is so close to my heart INDIA There is an incident where Dalrymple is observing the ritual of a newly married woman praying to a Goddess in the South and the temple only allowed women when the bride was praying So Dalrymple held on till the time their prayers were done just to Why Gold? Why Now?: The War Against Your Wealth and How to Win It go and observe what were the prayers about It is hilarious in some such places where one can imagine Dalrymple hiding till the situation is clear and thenoing and satisfying his curiosity My particular favorite part was when Dalrymple describes Bombay Oh The nostalgia The era of rap music that descended on Bombay through Baba Sehgal the rise of Shobha De into the elite circles and the fact that Bombay as a metro has had this typical ability to hold on to its roots and yet progress in a manner in which only Bombay can had me almost reminiscing the old Doordarshan days before Star took over with its cable connection My favorite passage however was the below where Dalrymple takes us through some realities that India hasn t been able to shun thus far They destroyed all the euipment all the medicines The Harijans the people we used to call Untouchables used to come a hundred miles for treatment But I thought Untouchability was outlawed at independence I said Technically it was replied Tyagi But do you know the saying Dilli door ast It means Delhi is far away The laws they pass in the Lok Sabha Indian parliament make little diff. The result of a decade of travels through the Indian subcontinent the Age of Kali is a collection of essays ranging in scope from the widows of Vrindavan to rap stars in Bo.

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Ent Though William does not suffer from the sentimental Avengers Under Siege glorification syndrome that many Indian writers succumb to he suffers from a shortage ofenuine appreciation This is a collection of essays that depicts the trials and tribulations of the Indian society than a travel account William shines a clear spotlight on the evils that have plagued the country casteism outdated beliefs like Sati the Господа Головлевы growing economic disparity corruption andeneral break down of the moral fabric While the book points out India s excesses very succintly William s spotlight never shines as strongly on what has worked for the country what is worth admiring in India and what is worth being proud of The same Batman White Knight - Tome 0 (DC BLACK LABEL) (French Edition) goes for Pakistan and Sri Lanka The book has elicited plenty of reactions on Goodread to the effect of what a wonderful insight it is into this fascinating land even to the extent of calling the book a must read for those who want to travel to India for the first time The land that William has so deftly painted a picture of in this book is in no way facsinating or lovable His picture is of a once beautiful now crumbling and broken land and a degenerate hamstrung society There is a strong undertone of cynicism and in places superiority and condescension If this were the only book a first time traveller to India reads it would be unfortunate What would be ridiculous is if he decides he loves this wonderful country for what the book describes Some of the other book reviews seem to suggest thatHaving said that this is an absolutely engrossing book William paints pictures with words looks at people and ideas tongue firmly in cheek andives us exclusive interviews with some of the most known names in the subcontinent The Age of Kali is the work of an excellent journalist on all that is Pokémon going wrong with the subcontinent in modern times though it was written about 10 years ago many of the observations remain horrifyingly true What isoing right for the subcontinent however is clearly NOT a subject of the book Two very bad chapters in this book has compelled me to The Feminine Ideal give this a 1 star1 In the chapter about Awadh Dalrympleoes on a nostalgia overdose and portrays Awadh as the best kingdom in the entire history of India The fact is that Awadh was a disaster the rulers were opium addicts and made a mess of the empire which eventually paved the way for the British to overtake Not even a single word about this in the entire essay instead too much patronizing Also Do you realize that the haveli and what not stand to symbolize the oppression the ruling classes imposed 2 Dalrymple visits a tense Bangalore during its anti westernization protest and writes a completely biased point of view What ever the hell fear of modernization means all the author had to was just spend a little time to find the truth rather than just write his confirmation bias If he had put even a little bit of effort he would have realized that the issue was exclusion The new elite having a language barrier discriminating the local vernacular populace What struck me about this book was that there was not a single positive remark on India or any of the other countries discussed Even many of the personalities mentioned in the book were discussed from a cynical point of view I understand that the book deals with the age of Kali which is a rather negative destructive period of history But Dalrymple s style of writing is such that he shows scant respect for his subjects He reminds me of slumdog millionaire director Danny Boyle There is an air of condescension in his writings which I think is very pitiful returnreturnThe Age of Kali to be honest is a bit disappointing First off because of the form it is a collection of pieces written for different journals at different times in the 1990s and there is occasional repetition from one piece to the next with no overall uiding structure Second because of this the book lacks any synthesising introduction or conclusion apart from a page at the very beginning explaining the concept of the Age of Kali the Kali YugareturnreturnHaving said that what you are left with is a series of very readable vivid in depth essays on particular places personalities or events we start with sectarian violence in Bihar and end with the Bhutto family The book is mainly about India but there are excursions also to Sri Lanka O and Imran Khan Stylish witty and bristling with insight these jewel like essays string together to create a captivating and enduringly relevant portrait of the subcontine.

Erence in these villages Out here it will take much than a change in the law to alleviate the lot of the Dalits the oppressed castes ie the former Untouchables But I still don t understand why the Rajputs did this What difference does it make to them if you educate the Untouchables The lower castes have always been the slaves of the higher castes replied Tyagi They work in their fields for low wages they sweep their streets clean their clothes If we educate them who will do these dirty jobs Dr Tyagi waved his hands at me in sudden exasperation Don t you see he said The Rajputs hate this place because it frees their slaves And what did you do I asked while the Rajputs were beating the place up Dr Tyagi made a slight esture with his open palm I was just sitting he said What could I do I was thinking of Gandhiji He was also beaten up many times He said you must welcome such attacks because it is only through confrontation that you can The Next Big Thing go forward An institution like ours needs such incidents if it is to regenerate itself It highlights the injustice the Harijans are facing He paused and smiled You yourself would not have come here if this had not happened to us What will you do now I asked We will start again The poor of this desert still need us And if the higher castes come for you again Then we will welcome them They are also victims of their culture My takeaway was immense pride in the country that India is and a reality check of the country that it might become This mixed feeling ofloom and bloom is what Dalrymple The German War A Nation Under Arms gave me through The Age of Kali If you are not really a non fiction reader and yet you want to read stories of travels I think Dalrymple is the author youot to check out for The stories narrated are so vivid and interesting not once would you feel you are reading non fiction A thoroughly enjoyable read Journalism at its best Very often I find myself bored after the first fifty pages of a non fiction book because lots of authors tend to be repetitive or their writing is just not Bend the Rules (Big Mike and Minnie good this book is a sample of very different articles from various areas of India and Pakistan and Dalrymple is a brilliant writer who made tears spring up in my eyes when reading about the fate of widows abandoned by their families and the trains full of dead bodies arriving in Lahore train station after the partition of India and Pakistan These articles all serve to show that India is in the so called Age of Kali the age of destruction but still one feels Dalrymple s unbiased love for this country he s studied thoroughly over the course of many years His view is an informed one based on profound historic knowledge and he transmits this knowledge in an entertaining very readable way Much better than Bombay Maximum City while Sukehtu Mehta is so fascinated with himself knowing all theseoondas and having a platonic friendship with this oh so sexy prostitute Dalrymple is seriously interested in the human fate of the people he meets and interviews even though he s one of the very few who ve been able to Final Crisis get to meet and talk to the Tamil Tigers and there even with the female sections he manages to step back andive a voice to others just being the very pleasant and dry voice in the background instead of celebrating himself and his bravery An eye opening read fascinating just like India and Pakistan 355 This was my second book by Dalrymple and I was uite impressed by his ability to find stories and narrate them interestingly with Interpreting the Pauline Epistles Guides to New Testament Exegesis great perception and empathy in Nine Lives While the narration and perception are stillood some of the stories r a bit common place Still a ood read especially if u like DalrymplePS It didnt matter to me that the book s stories r from the 90s The best and critical Indian travelogue to me is Naipaul s India a million mutinies set in 1989 I must say I had to reset my expectations while reading this book I started reading what I thought would be an unprejudiced holistic third person view of India unaffected by patriotic sentiments yet aided by a depth of understanding of the subcontinent and its culture For William Dalrymple is eligible on both accounts an Indophile Scotsman who has lived in India for many years to understand it s people history and the cultural nuances However this book is not a balanced view and certainly not a holistic view of the subcontin. Mbay the temples as old as the Parthenon in Madurai the socialite author Shobhaa De the remnants of the kingdom of Avadh and meetings with then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutt.

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty two The book won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial PrizeIn 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six years