To call Perpetual City: A Short Biography of Delhi a book is digressing from what Malvika Singh, the author, has presented. I would have rather called it an essay on Delhi written with one’s own life interwoven with the fabric of Delhi. As if Dilli for Malvika was a beautiful Pashmina shawl and her own life ‘motifs made with hand embroidery on it’. I can say for all those born or brought-up in Delhi between 1940s and 1980s, this book is a great connect with the city of Delhi.
No doubt a quick read, this book is an un-put-downable marvel even for those who haven’t lived their lives in Central Delhi or the original ‘New Delhi’. The book offers, history and nostalgia, facts and stories behind the facts and it offers glimpses into nation vs personalities, the war which has never ceased in Delhi. It is to Delhi’s misfortune that more often than not, it is the personalities which pushed our nation down and the city had to witness it all.
The book has quite a few gems, this one on the emergency is one of my favorites, ‘Confidence and pride was replaced by fear and anger. Our rights had been snatched from us, the jewels of our great legacy and tradition had been temporarily stolen. Delhi was the epicenter of this quake’. Each part of the essay seamlessly connects to the next and continues with the line of thought of the previous section.
I do recommend a read. I rate it as 4/5.