City of Djinns has ratings and reviews. Warwick said: Delhi is lucky to have William Dalrymple as a chronicler – not many cities get such exemp. Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi’s centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters. May 27, Author: William Dalrymple Pages: Published in the year: Publishers: Penguin Genre: Non-fiction/ Memoir For Dalrymple, who has.

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Sometimes prompted by a conversation, at other times by the discovery of yet another ancient building crumbling into dust, we journey to the British Imperial India of Lutyens; to the early days of the East India Company; to the waning decades and tragic end of the Mughal Empire in ; to the Golden Age of Shah Jahan; and far, far back to the Tughluk dynasty that ruled nearly all of India from Delhi in the 14th century. Delhi’s intriguing past is a delicious topic that more than simply nudges your curiosity but WD is yet to bite a fulsome piece into it.

In any case, D follows the charade of another surprise discovery that Delhi is much older and needs to be peeled back even more.

The book talks about the soul of Delhi, in a mesmerising, heart rending way, in a manner so poignant that I can smell the Delhi smoke and walk among the streets and alleys again. I think I even preferred it dalrympls Peter Ackroyd’s London: Of Mughal Emperors, Samosas, and Chai. But as the power of the East India company grew and the British conclusively established their rule in cigy of India, the equations drastically altered, and the natives were all shunned.

If you ever happen to visit the city, sitting on the ramparts of a fort or marvelling the intricate designs of a palace, or being blessed by the saints in one of the mosques, the djinns will most definitely bring to life snippets from this book. And as you relive the glorious incidents of that era, you would shudder at the thought of living under the rule of a monarch.

In particular his long, delicate attempts to get first-hand interviews and experience with Delhi’s hijra community — representing a kind of fusion of transgender identity with India’s eunuch tradition — are amazing, and result in some remarkable testimony from within a very closed and secretive subculture.


City of Djinns

First – the entire account exudes a feeling wiilliam impartiality But it still shows how continuing traditions lie at the core of such cities.

I wish there had been more Delhi and less history. No trivia or quizzes yet. It is an utter delight from beginning to end. Pack-donkeys trot past carrying saddlebags full of rubble.

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple | : Books

The blessing of a jijra is considered to be unusually potent. Jun 14, Shadin Pranto rated it liked it. See comment citt for more info. These people are often banned from the villages where they were born, and sent instead to live with a ‘hijra’ group in the city, led by a hijra guru.

Both the above books were born out of City of Djinns.

Major Uncle wrote letters to my parents in Urdu when we lived away, and Kavita aunty spent a lot of time trying to ensure I did not fail in my Hindi exams. One day everyone was laughing and singing in the Delhi gardens, covering each other with pink powder and coloured Holi-water; the next they had imprisoned themselves in the silent air-conditioned purdah of their bedrooms and offices, waiting patiently for the reprieve of evening.

WD even makes trips to Karachi, Shimla, Ajmer and even the Deccan fastness of Daulatabad; and writes extensively about Anglo-Indians or the British who chose to stay back after Independence and the unfortunate fog that now shrouds them. First by the Britishers and then by the Leaders of Independent India.

I then picked up White Mughals again, flipped it around and got the mistaken impression that it must have been set after The Last Mughal.

There was definitely much more that could have been done with it, especially with the pre Mughal period, but I think it wasn’t the author’s main interest and it only features in the last 40 pages or so. Under the guise of describing a year in Delhi, Dalrymple also goes back into the history of Delhi, ranging from even before the days of the MahabharataIndia’s great national epic which is about as old as Homer’s Iliad and Odysseyall the way to the present day. The documentary is hosted by a woman whose Muslim grandparents never trusted Ghandi, and wouldn’t you know Dalrymple agrees.


The guru is like a mother to the new members, and teachers them the ways of the jijras. It’s just exceedingly strange that the ancient excerpts his text so often depends on are so often so exceedingly tedious. The more I read, the more it became clear that the events of were the key to understanding modern Delhi. City of Djinns was written almost a decade before White My first experience of reading a William Dalrymple was with White Mughals when I was in class nine. Even the date of the wedding has to be astrologically chosen, and this can result in wedding jams, with everyone trying to get married at more or less the same time.

Even so, it is all hugely readable.

He says that the Imperial Delhi of Lutyens reminds him of Nuremberg. From contemporary history, he goes back to the Raj, and extensively covers the period which saw a rapid change in the British attitude to the natives.

The author shows us the diversity of Delhi through his meetings with Unani medicine practitioners, pigeon-fanciers, the eunuchs of the city, traditional calligraphers and other religious healers.

It was a style most unbecoming for a lady of her age and lineage; moreover it jarred with everything one knew about her sophistication and culture” In an attempt to excavate the background of Delhi, beginning from the modern history and receding behind till as far as BC, he has composed a great mix of travel writing and history. I was dosed with opium and a string was tied around my equipment. CoD has a fresh, unabashedly opinionated but never cruel and passionate feel to it.

It can make a barren woman fertile, scare off malevolent djinns spiritsor nullify the evil eye.

Three and a half stars. Oct 20, gurpreet kaur rated it it was amazing.