William Dalrymple's interviews where he calls Aurangzeb self aware, fascinating, monster of myths, shakespearean, generous, etc.

William Dalrymple's interviews where he calls Aurangzeb self aware, fascinating, monster of myths, shakespearean, generous, etc.
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  Text-only versionThis is Google's cache of It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 30 Nov 2010 22:57:05 GMT.The current page could have changed in the meantime. Learn more These search terms are highlighted:   aurangzeb   whom   dalrymple   considers   absolutely   fascinating    William Dalrymple  and his mystical “NineLives” Posted by sahar_adil |  27. December 2009  William Dalrymple  the author of Nine Lives  William Dalrymple  makes a foray into the heart of mystical India abundantly rich in itsculture and the myriad obscure traditions that not just amaze but also baffle. His latest book ' Nine Lives' , deals with matters of the heart, that reach out to faith and people’s response tothem in times of adversity, prosperity, pain and sometimes just to find an elevated faith.  With a job description that describes him as a Correspondent for the new Statesman for thepurpose of his visa as well as his license to stick around and unravel more of India’s secrets. Cutto, the author’s latest book on travel writing, 4 years after he was last published, with “The LastMughal”. “I seem to have a 4 year gestation, (like whales), that’s how long it approximately takesfor me to come out with a new book.” This book he describes as “funny mixture of things”, of people like Mohan Bhapa and his wife Batasti,  whom  he knew before he started writing the book. They were not just bards singing epic poems that would have been long forgotten, butthey also served as mediums between the village god and the villagers. Others he met along the way as he came across people and their cultures. Article of 5 07-02-2011 19:32  The book opens with the story of Prasannamataji, a Jain Nun from a grotty Dharamshala inSravanabelagola. Her story delves into the fact that she comes from a from a wealthy family, is young and attractive but gives it all up for a life of asceticism. The human-ness for him comes when he learns that she falls in love with a fellow nun. Her lover eventually dies, andPrassanamataj ends up not just breaking a rule and falling in love, but also mourning the loss of her beloved and wanting to take her own life. He says, this story for him was the most movingfrom all others. He talks of a Naga Sadhu who was srcinally a Kelvinatorrefrigerator sales manager with an MBA from PatnaUniversity; who one day decides to trade in his suit, briefcase and watch for a loin cloth, smear his body withash and walk into an ashram. Then there is the sinisterstory of a Tantric skull curer who’s sons have shining EastCoast (America) practices in Ophthalmology and who were fearful that their father’s rather distasteful tastesmight tarnish their practice and name. The stoic TashiPassang, a Buddhist Monk who renounced his vows and went to war when China invaded Tibet in the 1950’s.Monks are allowed to take up arms only when their faithitself is threatened; the twist of fate for him comes whenhe was instead sent to fight for the Bangladeshi’s after he was conscripted in the army. He now spends the rest of his days in penance making prayer flags. Dalrymple  continues to be fascinated with thesubcontinent, and in the bargain, makes it all themore fascinating for people reading his books. Hisperception and sensibilities as a traveler and author makerepair of fractured ideas and misconceptions. “I’ve been faithful to my being contained betweenConstantinople to Calcutta, and I haven’t moved out of it. I love that. I have tried to carry ondoing what I do while changing the way I do things, this time round it was non fiction shortstories, you’ve got to keep finding new ways of doing things play new tricks. The stories fromthis book, I thought they were wonderful tales. They were novellas in themselves like the story of Rani Bai.” Rani Bai, the Devadasi to the Goddess Yellama, whos’ husband, a powerful Rishi, believed to bethe reincarnation of Shiva, deformed his wife when he suspected her of being unfaithful to him. According to Rani Bai, they (devadasis) like Goddess Yellama are cursed for crimes of loveoutside marriage. Rani Bai is beautiful and long limbed. She had been sold by her father, assoon as she gets her first period, to be sold off to a farmer, who then cheats her father by notpaying for the young virgin . Her story speaks of how she did eventually relent and begin doingsex work. Her story opens with her wistfully saying, “of course there are times when there ispleasure. But mostly it is horrible, the farmers here, they are not like the boys from Bombay...”. Dalrymple  describes that the narrative arc of this story like the others did not require any reinvention on his part, “the stories didn’t need me pulling it together or fiddling with it.” Article of 5 07-02-2011 19:32  This is what makes this book different in terms of travelogue, who’s normal “warp and weft”, would be central to everything the writer does from what he had for lunch to what his mode of transport was with the people he meets more in the background. He tells a Sufi story with, “the red fairy”. Here “lal pari mastan”, makes her way to SehwanShariff in Pakistan to come to terms with the loss and pain she suffered on the way to her triple–refugee status; first as a Muslim driven out of India into East Pakistan after the Hindu Muslimriots of 1960s; then as a Bihari driven out of East Pakistan when Bangaldesh was created in 1971and finally as a single woman trying to survive as a Sufi in a highly male dominated andTalibinized Pakistan society. His glistening blue eyes light up with a chuckle when I asked if he was at all “mystical”considering his preoccupation with practices he documents in Nine Lives, “I am very un-mystical. A bit of a boy scout really. I am rather rational and straight forward, with my dealings of the world. Though I come from a very religious family.. My parents come from adeep faith that I cannot share and my brother is a Catholic priest.” The author says, thishowever, may have flinted his interest in religion in observing how religion makes people act.“In this book I am an observer rather than a participant. It’s not about running off and finding aguru, it’s about me looking with sometimes wonder astonishment and even horror, at the thingsreligion has caused people to do.”  Where this book is being praised as one of the best travel books written, others protest that hehas not portrayed India’s religious diversity with equity. Dalrymple’s argument is that this book is not a documentation of Indian religions. “Several people tried to suggest, this book should beabout modern Hinduism, like about Sri Sri Ravishankar, why should it be about him? About why I did not talk about Christianity? This book is very much about nine individuals, nine shortstories; it stands or fails on the strength of the stories. It is what it is.” “I was just intrigued by how extraordinary these people’s lives are. As a “desi or a firangi when you see sadhus charging towards the confluence at the ‘kumbh mela’, it could as well be wildebeest, they do not even closely look human; with matted hair and ash smeared bodies,stark naked. But talk to one naga sadhu, and it turns out he is a cricket fanatic, with a son working for Tata and a niece who is a radiologist in leading hospital in Kolkata. They are part of society. This book is taking fairly exotic subjects and humanizing them, one just begins to Article of 5 07-02-2011 19:32  questions, ‘how did they get there?’”. Author, traveller, journalist, historian - William Dalrymple Midway through the interview, seated by the pool having a cup of tea, the contents of which wasforming a puddle in front of the deck chairs we were sitting as he enthusiastically gesticulates while speaking with cup in hand, the author of literary gems like White Mughals’ and InXanadu, (which he published at 22) observes, “I think I need a pelican bib, the kind you givelittle children at tea parties!”  We then dived into a short discourse on superstition, rituals and their mainstay in the India.“Superstition is not a word I use anywhere in the book, and I think it is quite a modern urban word. I certainly don’t believe that India is a superstitious country. My Punjabi neighbours inDelhi have got to be the most brutally materialistic people there are in the world. By the sametoken , I think rituals are new inventions, like “gaari”(car) pujas, but I believe its more likere-invented new traditions, as a journalist I see this as an interesting revival of religion.” From Bangalore, the author was getting ready to travel to Lepakshi which has one of the largestcollections of murals from the Vijaynagar Empire and also to other parts of rural Karnataka. “Iam completely engaged by this country as I hope the book shows that. For India I am interestedin its present as much as the past. When writers I meet complain of a writer’s block, I can’trelate to it. If I had Nine Lives I don’t think I could exhaust things to write about from thiscountry.” In his next book he will be dealing with one of India’s most controversial historical figures,  Aurangzeb    whom   Dalrymple   considers  “ absolutely fascinating ”. Speaking about theabout the richest Mughal emperor who was also the 2nd longest reigning after Akbar, “by theend of it he does becomes a monster of myths, but his final letters are full of regret andawareness about how much he destroyed of what he had inherited. What is little spoken is thathe was an extremely generous donor to various ashrams and maths. Just the sheer data that can be gathered about his donations to Hindu monasteries is extraordinary.”  As we were winding down the interview we spoke a little about where he likes to travel and what his plans were for the New Year’s celebration. His favourite travel destination, notnecessarily for leisure, but for travel are the forests of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh. “It isextremely remote and very wild, with amazing ruins.” His favourite holiday was when he took his family to Bhutan where they went pony trekking. As well as Taprabone Island, which is off  Article of 5 07-02-2011 19:32
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