As a noted author & journalist, you had millions of admirers across the world. I am one among those who was brought up reading your rich reviews & write-ups in the late nineties.
A note of apology to Vir Sanghvi
Dear Sir, As a noted author & journalist, you had millions of admirers across the world. I am one among those who was brought up reading your rich reviews & write-ups in the late nineties. Back home, my reading shelf still preserved some of the archival paperbacks of your editorial News articles that I read in my formative years of life. For me, you always stood as the face of sincere & honest journalism. As a food lover, I am still a crazy reader of your column, rude food. If you remember, the twitter handle Pilibhitstories quoted your gustatory click with the image of Om Prakash. This mason walked on his foot for the stretch of 800 km down to his hometown in Uttarpradesh. The portrait was featured by Hindustan times. It was not intended to request you for starvation & deliver them meals on the way. It was just a quote to Sagar Ratna & other multinational food brands Sarvanna Bhavan who can extend their support in the time when an innumerable number of individuals & NGOs are feeding these hungry souls on the streets of Delhi.
If these brands can do the home delivery in the days of COVID-19, they can extend their hands for such philanthropies in a time of devastation.
I am sorry that my irrelevant quote on your tweet made you annoyed. But the rebuttal from your side was much harsh in tone. In days of social media trolling, we came across many abusive comments. The feedback received from such an esteemed journalist appears to be a nightmare for me. In this challenging time, when the pandemic had broken the nerves of one hundred ninety-nine countries, I could understand we got over-sensitized.
Pilibhitstories is not an anonymous handle. The handle runs by this asshole, who is your humble follower. Dear Vir, when I tried to write the feedback, you had already blocked the handle. This handle just shared the beauties of my home town tucked on edge on Indo-Nepal border in Western Uttarpradesh. As I am away from my home country & home town, this is only an attempt to connect with roots & surpassing the homesickness. As a responsible citizen, I always tried to maintain harmony on my social media posts. Hope Sir, I had not annoyed you. And this is a note of clarification from your humble reader.
Though it’s a Hindu festival, for Hussian bhai, it’s an integral part of his culture. From the early days, he arranged a feast for his friends among Indian expatriates on the last day of the festival.
18th January Pongal feast of Hussain Bhai at Al Majmaah, Saudi Arabia
Long before the arrival of the COVID-19 & social distancing happened outside China, this took place in the days when back home witnessed nationwide protest on the newly introduced act, Citizenship amendment act.
It was around twenty-five years before Sayed Hussian came to Saudi Arabia in search of Job as a mechanic. Finally, his destiny took him to Al-Majmmah, an oasis town located two hundred kilometers North-West of Saudi capital city, Riyadh. Hailed from Pudukkottai, aka Pudhugai (coastal district of Tamil Nadu in India), he work here as a supervisor of the automobile service center.
In the early days, Hussian & his family members missed Tamil culture & festivities. Pongal, a three days harvest festival of Tamils is one of the foremost that has been celebrated all across the globe among the Tamil diaspora. The name itself is derived from the ritual sweet dish prepared on this day with boiled rice, milk & jaggery.
Though it’s a Hindu festival, for Hussian bhai, it’s an integral part of his culture. From the early days, he arranged a feast for his friends among Indian expatriates on the last day of the festival. In the previous ten years, the working city of Hussain also witnessed substantial growth with the establishment of a University. Many multi-ethnic professionals that included doctors, engineers, & doctorates from diverse specialties from different countries joined University. The representation of the South India community was also increased. By the time, the size of Hussain Bhai home arranged Pongal feast also swelled. On 18th January, this year also a feast was arranged by him. The guest belonged to the diverse faith & regions of India. You can find a North Indian, & South Indian guests coming from the diverse regions & religions (Muslims & Hindus). This was the diverse mosaic sitting on the oriental dining sheet (Dastarkhwan) spread inside the Arabic style Khyma (tent).
In a traditional south Indian attire, the host was attired in a white shirt & white lungi. The Banana leaves were not available far away from their country, but thanks to the cosmetic Banana shaped leaves that were used for serving the food. The guests were served with Rasam, Sambar, & traditional dessert “Pongal.” The Hussain’s story is the strength, solace, harmony that existed in the deep roots of Indian culture. It is the strength of this syncretic culture that always stood over the work done by the hate mongers to divide the social fabric on the lines of caste, creed, gender & religion.
In the time when the government approved central vista redevelopment project for Lutyens Delhi, the book will serve as a rich guide & reference material for the upcoming heritage researchers in the changing landscapes of Imperial Capital.
Connaught Place & the making of New Delhi| Book Review by Rehan Asad
The book Connaught place & the making of New Delhi was authored by historian Swapna Liddle & published by speaking Tiger, 2018. Its a story of the new imperial capital of Colonial India.
It was a grand ceremonial coronation Durbar of George V held at Delhi (1911) from where commenced the idea of the new capital of British Raj. In 1931, the New Delhi was formally inaugurated as the capital of Colonial India. From the birth of the idea in (1911) to the post independent changing face of New Delhi, the authors presented a vivid perspectives on the making of new capital. The book gave a detailed narratives of the controversies echoed in the imperial corridors from the stakeholders who opposed the idea of shifting a capital from Calcutta. How the middle of the Raisina hills was chosen as the site after rejection of initial plans with an intense struggle between the ideas of Lutyens & Lanchester. From the role of Lanchester in final plans to the inclusion of Swinton Jacob & Herbert Baker, the account discussed how the syncretic Indo-Islamic architecture got the final approvals in the plan of new city. Then the author explicitly discussed challenges & the task done by the city planners to preserve the ruined remnants of its by gone monarchies. While going through the text , a reader can find many interesting narratives & facade of Delhi that existed in the form of ignored ruins. The book is not only about the making of new capital but also gave you an insight of dilapidated monuments of its grandiose past. The formation of the grand Imperial capital, an idea that commenced with coronation Durbar ceremony held in December 1911. Once the decision & site was finalized, the biggest challenge was about its mighty ruined monuments that existed on its flanks. A huge exercise of marking those monuments was done. The Archaeological society of India (ASI) listing (1912) served as a preliminary record for creating another collaborative document. One of the three foremost monument that was located on the last point of the newly planned city was 16th Century Old fort/Purana Qila. The historic old fort as we saw today was inhabited by the farmers & zamindars as a village Indarpat. In 1913, the fort was cleared of its population & enormous work was done for the conservation in collaboration with ASI. The subsequent chapter discussed how the stratified layers of Colonial India social fabric played a role in creating a different grades of accommodation in the new capital city. Here the readers will also came to know, how each of the lanes got their names from its old remnants to the bygone days monarchs & the Indian princes of the Raj.
As a reader I came to know about some microcosmic facts such as the establishment of the plant nursery in Jhorbagh to meet the plantation supply for the new city. Finally the project was completed with an unexpected high cost & overcoming the backlash of world war I on 12 February, 1931. In this chapter, the authors weave the entire ceremony in a vivid story telling style integrating the role of all stakeholders with its landmarks. From the generous participation of princely estates to the art work headed by Munshi Ghulam Hussain, every fine details of final touch of project has been unveiled in this chapter. The chapter “Connaught place” that also form the part of the manuscript title discussed the detailed plan of its formation, it connectivity with other sections of Delhi & its pioneer stores from the luxury watches to the culinary joints.
The role of Connaught place as the living pulse of the imperial capital was elaborated. The concluding chapter presented the changing face of the New Delhi & Connaught place with Indian partition, its demographic shift & growth pf the urban sprawls in expanding metropolis.
This is how, the authors initial journey as an project initiative (2015) for the UNESCO world heritage site recognition of New Delhi & Shahjahanabad was transformed in a rich & well reviewed manuscript. The authors rich experience ingrained with her heritage awareness walks of Indian National Trust for Art & cultural heritage is deeply reflected in the writing. The citation of archival illustrations, maps & wide range of the references gave an added research value to the work. In the time when the government approved central vista redevelopment project for Lutyens Delhi, the book will serve as a rich guide & reference material for the upcoming heritage researchers in the changing landscapes of Imperial Capital. Hope it will serve the objective of heritage awareness.