Book Review : City of Djinns

City Of Djinns

Djinns : or Genie is a mythical creature which fulfills your wishes as in the tales of Alladin. It is also a creature which seems to be there somewhere, but you don’t know where.

– source : me

The title ‘City of Djinns’ conjures up a vision of mythological creatures from the past going ‘yes master’. But the book is not about that. Lets looks at another definition of Djinn :

In Arabic, a Djinn (also jinn, genie, from Arabic جني jinnī) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of Allah. Possessing free will, Djinn can be either good or evil.

– Source : Wikipedia

This book is more about parallel worlds.

William Dalrymple spends a year in Delhi, and peels away the layers of civilization one layer at a time, going back in history. This is how history books should be written . I wonder why the ICSE and CBSE syllabus is so boring ? I used to just about scrape past in History.

The story of Delhi is told with anectodes which WD has dug out from various people ( for the times of the Sikh Riots and Independence of India), and old manuscripts and writings (from times earlier). It shows that even though we are fast trying to forget the past and move on ( i guess thats why our History texts are so bad), if you just look hard enough , you will see the different layers , or Djinns, of Delhi.

I am not sure if a non-delhi-ite will be able to relate as well as a person who has spent some time in Delhi. References to Madrasas, older Hauz Khas, Jama Masjid and the old bylanes of Old Delhi, CP etc all bring to life the different ages of Delhi.

All in all, this book is probably the best writeup on the history of Delhi. It just opened up my eyes to see Delhi in a different light. Where earlier I was just looking at the greyness and cursing the traffic, I have now, also started to see the old domes of builds of ages past. I see the mix of old and new – a new swanky mall opposite jam packed homes erected in a hurry after the partition, with the spire of temple almost hidden by each new floor precariously built by each passing generation, behind which the ruins from the Old Fort can be seen playing hide and seek with the water tanks randomly erected like UFOs thrown on earth.

My Rating : A Must Read !


~ by Vibhu on November 11, 2009.

4 Responses to “Book Review : City of Djinns”

  1. bhai, u typed icici instead of icse school system…btw, good write up. am happy u like the book 🙂 now do go for the last mughal!
    r 🙂

  2. Thanks sis. Fixed the typo 😀

    Will get the Last Moghul after I finish off a couple of other books – Confessions of a Thug, and a book from Clive Cusler – though I think I will leave out the CC review 😉

  3. Nice review Vibhu. I also plan to read the books from the author.

  4. Мде

    Совершенно верно! Мне кажется это очень отличная идея. Полностью с Вами соглашусь….

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