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A mega adventure

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Pulling Apart Sam Miller systematically explores Delhi on foot
Pulling Apart Sam Miller systematically explores Delhi on foot

Sam Miller celebrates the Capital in his book

“Delhi, the city of Sultanates and Mughals, of Djinns and Sufis, of poets and courtesans, is now also a city of cybercafés and shopping malls, of Metros and multiplexes. It’s the past and it is the future. It is also my home,” writes Sam Miller.

This London-born journalist might be a migrant to the Capital, but he loves the city with an uncommon love that is born from study and experience. He first came to Delhi in 1990, for a few years, as the World Service TV and radio correspondent. He returned in 2002 and has never left. Today he is Director, Media Development (South Asia) for the BBC World Service Trust. His wanderings and exploration of Delhi have culminated into “Delhi Adventures in a Megacity”, published by Penguin Viking.

Miller today lives in Panchsheel with his wife Shireen and two children. With a journalist’s curiosity and deep-sea diver’s belief in proximate treasure, he has discovered his neighbourhood and the city. He takes us through his colony pointing out the disgruntled ruins of Siri Fort and the secluded crematorium.

Change in opinion

When he first came to India, Miller was far more partial to Bombay and Calcutta. He recounts, “I liked the big buildings here. And all the green made it pretty. But I couldn’t get a feel for it. It was difficult to walk and the distances were long.”

On returning to Delhi, Miller found that both he and the city had changed. The city had become more welcoming and he was more settled. From the terrace of his office in Gopaldas Building he could get an aerial view. The big hole that was to become the Metro, the circles of Connaught Place, helped orient him. He would walk the city after dropping his children to school.

A self-anointed flaneur (a French word for someone who wanders aimlessly through cities), Miller chose to discover the city on foot. Walking took him off the beaten track and beyond the street side facades. The lack of pavements and crossings haven’t deterred him.

Familiar with Hindi and married to an Indian, Miller enjoys his dual position of an “insider and outsider”. He also has a “love-hate” relationship with the city. He is bothered at the overpowering aggression and the targeted harassment that women face. He adds, “There are aspects that the city should be ashamed of but is not ashamed enough of.”

At the end of the day however, Miller believes Delhi is very “unloved”. “Delhi Adventures in a Megacity” is sure to compensate for that lapse.

NANDINI NAIR

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