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Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity Paperback – 1 Jul 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780099526742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099526742
  • ASIN: 0099526743
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A wild, spiralling wonder of a book... the sharpest reflection of the capital since William Dalrymple's City of Djinns... Read this book and laugh, grow and gaze in gob-smacked wonder at India's whirling dreamtown" (Rory Maclean Guardian)

"The liveliest of city travelogues, a beguiling introduction to the Indian capital and an irresistible read for even the faintly curious" (Literary Review)

"A chronicle that rivals its subject matter in energy and scope... His talent is dizzying and his narrative a rich accomplishment. I walked miles in Delhi - without moving an inch" (The Times)

"A dizzying, droll travelogue... Miller's multitudinous city snapshots elucidate the paradoxes of gloablisation without judgement, and his tales of urban wandering form a valuable archive of a rapidly transforming city. Miller's forays into city slums are poignant, humanising evocations of Delhi's underside" (Hirsh Sawnhey Guardian)

"A thoroughly entertaining book - even down to the countless footnotes - about a fascinating city" (Financial Times)

Book Description

An extraordinary portrait of one of the world's largest cities and India's baffling, bustling capital.

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Format: Paperback
Facing down "disbelief and ridicule", our flâneur sets out, on cracked heels and gammy right knee, to explore Delhi's tawdry splendour in a spiral-shaped route, chosen in order to both capture the city's heart and to take readings of life at its outer reaches. He is no dandy: his trousers are muddy, his shoes filled with rainwater or caked in sludge, and he wears a green hat and a 35-rupee watch. The Yamuna is his Seine, arc-welders his gas lamps.

He trips on rough pavements, crosses highways, clambers onto rooftops and over 500-million-year-old rocks. He unflinchingly encounters the city's carbuncles and decrepitude, and its formidable acronyms, pausing now and then to wonder at the "multiple paradoxes" of this megacity over cups of chai from roadside vendors.

With laudable equanimity he meets railway accountants, cockroaches, and asthmatic goats, non-vegetarian Doberman-pinchers guarding minor royalty, and a well-meaning drag king. Then there is The Shit Squirter of Connaught Place. And Martin the Brylcreemed rookie Seventh-Day Adventist preacher.

The book is very, very funny and often moving, as scenes unfold which call up that emotion familiar to any sensitive observer of this city: in Miller's words, "that ugly vacuum between hilarity and despair". He finds Delhi's heart - with its white Lutyens bungalows - quite heartless and talks with the humble functionaries who live out seemingly futile and fragmented lives and whose existence is rendered all but invisible by the city's indifference. He is helped (or laughed at) on his way by, among others, a deaf mute, nightwatchmen, street vendors, construction workers, pallbearers and a slum-clearance survivor. A tiny rag picker explodes an array of pessimistic preconceptions.
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Well worth reading for all those spending time in Delhi. Not ideal for tourists only staying a couple fo days, but for anyone heading there for a longer stay this is a great intro to your new city. It is easy to read and very engaging.
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Format: Paperback
As the world's population has become majority urban, books on Asian Megacities have been increasingly frequent additions to travel literature. This book, however, stands out. The author had been married to an Indian for 15 years when he wrote the book, spoke Hindi and both lived in and loved his subject. Using the device of a series of spiralling walks (itself a pretty unusual way for a westerner to get about) the author observes princes and paupers, thugs, victims, the famous and the ordinary. It's a Tristam Shandy of a travelogue, but the superficially random nature of the episodes and stories give a fantastic picture of the city which contrives to present it as being as fascinating, and storied as its more chronicled sisters Mumbai and Kolkata.
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