“Celebrating Delhi” is an engaging study of the city and its past

One doesn't see Upinder Singh, a noted historian, anxiously describing a book, nor does one find Khushwant Singh reminiscing about the past so often, but with the launch of the book “Celebrating Delhi” edited by Mala Dayal, all this and much more came to the fore at the main auditorium of the India International Centre. The book of essays is based on the series of 12 lectures organised by the Attic in 2006. Organised in collaboration with the Attic and INTACH which explores the city's living syncretic heritage illuminating unknown and fascinating aspects of its history, it boasts contributors like Upinder Singh, Pradip Krishen, William Dalrymple, Duno Roy and Ravi Dayal.

Upinder Singh, giving a brief introduction of the book also showed a few pictures of the famous Iron Pillar, Purana Quila, etc and also of lesser-known treasures in and around Delhi. The audience which included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur was familiarised with the stone tools that were discovered on the campuses of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University through more visual support. “Most dilli-wallahs visualize their city extending from somewhere near the Qutub Minar to somewhere beyond the Red Fort and recollect a vague connection between ancient Indraprastha and the Purana Quila. But Delhi from the Stone Age to the times of the Rajputs stretches much further than one can imagine”.

Pradip Krishen entered the discussion by shedding some light on the city's interesting native trees. He, then, invited Rakhshanda Jalil for ‘Dehli ki Aakhri Shama', a poetic re-enactment of the ‘Last mush'aira of Delhi'. In her chaste Urdu, Jalil spoke about Farhatullah Beg's novel “Dilli Ki Aakhri Shama” on which the dramatic re-enactment was based upon.