03 August, 2021

Ephemeral Missives

India in bite-sized instalments

Ephemeral Missives
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
THE subcontinent has been Wiliam Dalrymple's favourite hunting ground and out of its vastness and complexity he has extracted wonderful stories. The five years he spent in Delhi working on his best-selling City of Djinns was also a productive phase for his journalism. This new offering of his collected journalistic pieces gives us a chance to discover facets of Dalrymple unknown to his fans in the subcontinent who have marvelled at his descriptive powers and his sense of history.

However, the problem with journalese is that outside the time-frame where it belongs, most of them tend to look stale, repetitive and stereotypical, though at the time it was published it could have created many a flutter. The piece on Laloo Prasad Yadav is one such. When Dalrymple scorns disdainfully at the audacity of Yadav who had booked the entire front row of seats in the Delhi-Patna flight for his entourage, he forgets the fact that many political leaders travel with an entourage. Chief ministers of Indian states are incidentally democratically elected and can be considered minor heads...

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