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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Read
I am eternally grateful to Mr. Dalrymple for writing 'City Of Djinns' because it led me to view the city where I was born and where I now live in an entirely new light. I confess that despite spending ten of my sixteen years in Delhi I never went out of my way to find out its historical significance and my interaction with its monuments never progressed beyond a few...
Published on 14 Jun 2006 by Shikha Chhabra

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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It ain't that easy
Dalrymple set himself an awesome task - to make sense in a mere 250 pages of Delhi, not one city but eight, each superimposed upon the preceding one, each a complex of myriad interlocking mini-cities with their own history and customs. Where do you begin ? How do you give form and structure to such a jumble ? After all, as V.S. Naipaul observed in "India - a million...
Published on 8 July 2002 by A.K.


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Read, 14 Jun 2006
By 
Shikha Chhabra (New Delhi, India) - See all my reviews
I am eternally grateful to Mr. Dalrymple for writing 'City Of Djinns' because it led me to view the city where I was born and where I now live in an entirely new light. I confess that despite spending ten of my sixteen years in Delhi I never went out of my way to find out its historical significance and my interaction with its monuments never progressed beyond a few cursory visits, acting as a (remarkably unqualified) guide to several NRI friends who were just as uncurious and complacent as I was.

It was only after reading this book for the first time about six months ago that I realized what I was missing out on, and since then I have made an attempt to set out and rediscover the city and its forgotten jewels. It amazes me how the author can see so much poetry in what appears to be a crumbling mass of ruins to the lay observer. Sometimes his description of the architectural features of a church or mosque or temple or tomb is a bit too erudite for me to fully comprehend, and then I have to look up the terms that he uses and agonize over photographs of that particular edifice, trying to see what all the fuss is about, but I think that's what really makes the book so delightful-there is a different and beautiful-sounding word for everything that is described.

The book, I thought, is very delicately structured, which is in keeping with the subject-Delhi, for all its bustle, lacks the cheery boldness of say, Mumbai, another great Indian city. There is a certain fragility about Delhi, which becomes more obvious as you venture into the Walled City, and it is exactly this elusive quality that Mr. Dalrymple has captured so beautifully in his book.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Semeen Khan from Pakistan, 22 Aug 2006
By 
Semeen Wajahat Khan (Pakistan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
It seldom happens to me that I select one particular author and then want to read every book written by him; William Dalrymple is one such author. To me his works In Xanadu, From the Holy Mountain, City of Djinns a year in Delhi are not just historical adventures they are kleidoscopes of worlds within worlds.

Delhi is a city that i love and i love it for all the reasons given in City of Djinns. This book is a complete picture of a city ravaged and re built, destroyed and recreated but What makes Dalrymple's Delhi different is that it takes a human shape, a face you recognise.

All events past and present in City of Djjins are within the grasp of the reader. Dalrymple writes about the Persian Massacre, Indian Mutiny of 1857 and the bloody Partition of 1947 but never taking you too far from the present day rickshaw noises or the eunuchs inhabiting the mysterious inner streets of old Delhi so one is not weighed down by history rather mediating between the two worlds.

Dalrymple is profound, sensitive but above all witty. On the ever changing modern day Delhi I quote the author, "Delhi was starting to unbutton. After the long victorian twilight the sari was beginning to slip".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delhi days, 22 Oct 2006
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
William Dalrymple is probably the best travel writer of his generation, both in his ability to evoke a sense of time and place, and his skill for shedding light on history in an engaging and accessible way. In contrast to his first book, the brilliant 'In Xanadu', Dalrymple focuses less on

his own experiences and more on unpeeling the multiple and intriguing layers of Delhi's history. This is not to say he is an invisible presence in the book, but that his personal account acts more as an access point for historical discovery than a narrative in itself - Paul Theroux this is not. 'A Year in Delhi' finds Dalrymple digging deeper and deeper into Delhi's history throughout his trip, unravelling the various epochs of the city, from the British Raj to the roots of The Mahabharata. At once amusing and erudite, Dalrymple also has a gift for sketching the surreal characters he meets along the way, from Sufi mystics and taxi drivers to his eccentric landlady. This must be the definitive travel companion for a trip to this fascinating and ancient city.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 4 Jan 2007
By 
S. Singh - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
It is hard for most people to pick out the highlights of one's life.....reading this book for me is surely one of them.

I have read this book several times now...each time I spot another gem.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A generous slice of India that you can almost taste, 21 Feb 2006
By 
Jessi - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
Dalrymple is a gifted writer with an ear for dialogue, a wry sense of humour, and an excellent command of Indian history. "City of Djinns" tells the story of Delhi, taking the reader back in time through the turbulent and bloodstained years of Partition, the paradox that was British imperial rule, the opulent splendour of the Mughal empire, and finally the ancient Indian civilisations that saw the birth of Hinduism in its earliest form. But this is no dry, fact-filled history textbook - it is spiced up with lively anecdotes from William and Olivia Dalrymple's (mis)adventures in Delhi (incorporating an inebriated taxi driver, a wheelchair-bound Sikh who is determined to make Olivia his wife, and a 'Muslim wedding in a Hindu ambulance') and also includes personal testimonies from a variety of colourful characters.
A very elderly Englishwoman, relic of the Raj, now shares a tin hut with a cobra and a posse of peacocks. ("I do hate waking up in the middle of the night to find a peacock in bed with me.") An astute Muslim scholar devotes himself to prayer and study, educating Dalrymple in the ways of Islam. An Indian gardener invents an Urdu-esque English dialect (flowerpots become fell-i-puts and hollyhocks are holi-ul-haqs) and the whole team is overseen by 'the Essex Man of the East', Balvinder Singh. His taxi always at your service.
At once humorous and poignant, "City of Djinns" is a testimony to a lifestyle that has now vanished for good. It made me wish I had been born thirty years earlier so I could have snatched a glimpse of it before it perished. In the words of one of Dalrymple's Anglo-Indian interviewees: "...in the end you can only go away and die in Cheltenham. And that,' Iris said with a sigh, 'is exactly what we did."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MAGIC CARPET TO THE CITY OF DJINNS, 2 Aug 2006
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
Short of catching the first thing smoking to Delhi, this is as good as it gets ,ensconsced as I am in my hammmock.....!

Gently unravelling and revealing the timeless rituals , sounds , odours and pulse of the tapestry that is Delhi , William D.steers you gently down history's cobwebbed backstreets.

As a global citizen of Indo-Lusitanian ancestry I find it both humbling and inspiring that a Scotsman has opened my eyes to the mystique of the legacy that some of them helped create and for that I'm forever indebted .

If he has not already been granted the freedom of the city , he should be ...!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful tale, great reference, refresher of memories, 25 April 2005
By 
Gretchen Coppedge (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
Whether you plan to visit Delhi, have been blessed to have been there, or just want to read an informative, good traveler's (note: not tourist) tale, then City of Djinns should be on your list of books to read. William Dalrymple paints a picture full of humor and fascinating detail, mixed with love and frustration. Which is what Delhi is: fascinating, frustrating, fun, and full of incredible people. Delhi is multi-layered and not easily explained. Delhi has to be experienced. Yet, Dalrymple brings to life a lot of the feeling of this magnificent city. More importantly for me, he brings to life part of its history, details history books leave out, alley ways that deserve to be explored. As a traveler blessed to return to Delhi fairly often, I have found the details of Dalrymple's book adding value to my visits - by knowing which alley ways might just be explored.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of Djinns, 11 Nov 2007
By 
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
I recently read city of djinns written by william dalrymple. It was such an honour to know that somebody has actually tried, visiting and living in delhi to know the real delhi. It is so amazing to read your own thoughts which have been devloped over the years and know know someone else has thought them too. I believe i can really relate to the book as i was born and brought up in delhi. I had always thought that there is something special about the place and the way Mr Darlmaple has researched and written the book is so beautiful.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading a bit about our history, to know real Indians, not Hindus, not Muslims, Sikhs or Christians but true Indians, then they must read this book. I wish I could give more stars to the book.

I will certainly read other books written by Mr Dalrymaple.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Legacy of Partition, 10 Sep 2007
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi William Dalrymple HarperCollins 1993

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi was my travel reading for my first trip to India in the summer of 2007, a trip which began and ended in Delhi. Having read other writers and other Dalrymple books on India before I set out, I read City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi first on my outward journey, and then reviewed it again as we made our way back to Delhi on the last stage of our tour. The book was an invaluable resource, supplementing the ill-informed and poorly spoken guides who were difficult to understand and unable to answer questions in any depth. Dalrymple's book helped me to tie the city and its sites and history together into some sort of coherent whole. I also found the pen-and-ink illustrations by Dalrymple's wife Olivia Fraser very illuminating. Although at first sight they struck me as much too calm and uncluttered to convey the true image of the places they posed, I later came to appreciate how they captured the inherent essence of their subject and spoke volumes in their simple way.

As a journalist, Dalrymple has a knack for finding the right people to talk with - people with living memories of the time he writes about, who can bring to life the crumbling ruins they inhabit and instil us with visions of the beauty that once radiated in Delhi. It is certainly difficult to see today but reading the stories did help me to understand the sensibilities of some of the Delhi-wallahs we encountered in our travels.

My one criticism of the book is that he reuses material that has appeared elsewhere, which broke the rhythm of my involvement with his story and made me feel uncomfortable. These passages were extensive, and not changed sufficiently to feel new in any way. I was surprised that his editors allowed this to pass, unless there were deadline difficulties.

The overall impression that I was left with is that India today is still suffering from the reverberations of the devastation of partition, which brought incomprehensible tragedy and hardship and touched almost every family in India in one way or another. As we watch India vie for its place in the globalised technological marketplace, we will understand her better if we remember this recent back-story in her development.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dalrymple shows how to look at something old with fresh eyes, 7 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi (Paperback)
I don't really read travel writers - even Chatwin and Theroux whos novels are more interesting than there travel works. I got this book as a gift and was very surprised at the freshness of Dalrymples mind and writing. The trip back through time, over 1000 years, and linking ancient happenings to real people in the present is brilliantly created...AND there's none of that embarrassing Brit ex-pat commentary you always get with Brits abroad. Stunning. -Sherif
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City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple (Paperback - 20 Sep 1999)
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