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Friday, 1 May 2015

Capital : A Portrait of Twenty-First Century Delhi - Rana Dasgupta


Rana Dasgupta: ‘It’s Blatantly Obvious That This Is A Traumatised City’


Capital is Rana Dasgupta's first non-fiction. It is an interview-based analysis of the effect of globalization on Delhi through the eyes of several individuals coming from the inner recesses of Delhi itself.

The journey begins slowly through the partition and unlike many of the other books it does not talk about 'what happened' as in the sequence of events. It talks, instead, of the mindset, the mental transformation and the physical transformations in the body of people that remained behind and in the refugees that flooded the city. Not only that, we see how 'New Delhi' came about.

Dasgupta, himself, was born abroad, in Canterbury, and only came to live in India for his then girlfriend, now wife, who lived in Delhi. He expected to convince her to move to New York with him but Delhi convinced him to stay.

Capital is not about politics, it's not even about the economics, no; it is about anything and everything that makes Delhi. The people, the history, the language, the culture, the infrastructure, the politics...like I said, it's about everything.

The chapter that touched me the most was chapter eight in which he interviewed Sadia Delhvi and she lamented the loss of Delhi's saleeqa.

'How do you expect Delhi to care about its own history when no one can read the language it is written in?...Urdu had nothing to do with religion: it was the language of Delhi, of everyone in Delhi.' - Sadia Dehlvi, page 160, Chapter Eight 

Capital's tone varies from sad to hopeful to nostalgic as the story changes view point to view point. The writing could have been better but it successfully conveys the author's meaning coherently. William Dalrymple has talked highly of this book, sure that it is the book he 'should hate' as he feels it is bound to replace his book 'The City of Djinns',which is also about Delhi, on the desks of people.

If you love Delhi as much as I do, it is a must-read. It is a must-read because it a good book. It is a must-read because it almost as all-accepting as Delhi.

Other books: Tokyo Cancelled, Solo
Must-read (article): Mumbai Boss with Rana Dasgupta