City of my Heart by Rana Safvi – Book Review

Book – City of my Heart

Translator – Rana Safvi

Publisher – Hachette India

Genre – Non Fiction

No. of pages – 247

Ratings – 3.5/5

About the book –

Through nuanced translations of four Urdu narratives spanning the period of turmoil that led to the Revolt of 1857 in fall of the Mughal Empire. This compelling volume reveals the tragic and affecting story of a royalty in decline. Vividly documenting the twilight years of not just a historical era but also an entire way of life, these first-hand accounts – gleaned from princes and paupers alike – provide rare insight.

Tales of suffering describe the perfidy of the British and the plight of the last royals and nostalgic reminiscences recreate the days of past glory and communal comity – of feasting and festivals, and shared faith and devotion. An intimate chronicle of a crucial era in India’s history, City of My Heart is the saga of a changing city and a people experiencing the end of life as they know it.

 

Review –

• City of My Heart: Accounts of Love, Loss and Betrayal in Nineteenth – Century Delhi.

• The book comprises of four historic stories which are selected and translated by Rana Safvi. The selected literature are quite unique and rare, namely –

1. Dilli ka Aakhiri Deedar (The Last Glimpse of Delhi)

2. Bazm-e-Aakhir (The Last Assembly)

3. Qila-e-Mu’alla ki Jhalkiya’n (Glimpses of Exalted Fort)

4. Begamat ke Aansu (Tears of the Begums)

• This is a very important book as it describes a very interesting period of history back in 19th century in Delhi. The book talks about multi cultures, social life, traditions, food, festivals, politics and the fate of the Mughals after fall of their dynasty.

• I found the book to be very monotonous yet profoundly useful. It is rich with cultural knowledge for history seekers and lovers. It is full of detail of various old customs and traditions that the emperors used to follow.

• The stories also emphasise on the relations people used to maintain irrespective of their religion. There are mentions of the good Hindi-Muslim relations and how they celebrated each others festivals with a good understandings made me feel good while reading.

• The only criticism I hold on this book is that after a while I found this book too much to read in a stretch. So my take/advice is that to read this book in bits and part rather than reading it continuously for long duration in a stretch.

• This book is definitely a must read for non fiction readers and researchers. For people who are not much into non fiction books but are wanting to explore historic cultures shall pick this book.

• Rana Safvi has done a brilliant work of selecting and translation this rich and rare literary and thus making it available to a wider range of people.

About the translator –

Rana Safvi is a renowned writer, scholar and translator. She is the author of Tales from the Quran and Hadith and Where Stones Speak: Historical Trails in Mehrauli, The First City of Delhi and The Forgotten Cities of Delhi. She has also translated both the editions of Asar us Sanadeed, the seminal work on Delhi’s monuments, written by Sir Syed Ahmed. She runs the popular blog ‘Hazrat-e-Dilli’ on her site ranasafvi.com, and is passionate about documenting India’s synthetic culture through her writings.

You can buy the book here.

– Kinjal Parekh

youtube.com/c/KinjalParekh