Book Review: Delhi: India In One City

Picture Perfect

The skillful American orator and abolitionist of the 19th century, Henry Ward Beecher once famously remarked that every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. In modern times you could turn the phrase around a bit, and say that those who use the camera delectably plant their own nature into their photographs.

You can find that kind of camera work in Delhi: India in One City, a coffee table book that stands out for the photographic and photo-editing talent of the affable Uday Sahay.

Had he not been in the Indian Police Service (“I hail from Bihar, and getting into the civil service is one of life’s priorities”), Sahay would not have found it difficult to find an alternate full-time profession, given the way he clicks, and exposes. In this case, the UT cadre officer with a penchant for painting, writing poetry, public speaking, and, of course, photography (he’s held several exhibitions of his own in India and beyond), has exposed Delhi in a myriad of colour and black and white pictures, some of which he’s clicked himself, and some of which he edited as photo editor of the book.

The 250-page book has a delightful and poignant selection of pictures from all corners in Delhi, showcasing both the old and the new in the city with élan. The book, itself, was released in New Delhi on December 23 by the Lt. Governor of Delhi Tejinder Khanna in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at The Ashok, and quite a few of the city’s who’s who were in attendance, including the Prime Minister’s wife Gurusharan Kaur. 

The text is by Malvika Singh, publisher of Seminar, and lest we forget, the executor of a cameo role in Shekhar Kapoor’s first film, Masoom. If Sahay’s photo skills elevates the books, Singh’s text makes it a good read. It is precise, well-worded and should be appealing to an audience that will no doubt go beyond the shores of India. It is one of those rare books on Delhi that is not just refreshing in its style of presentation but also promises to stand the test of time. The jacket design is elegant, the introduction by Sheila Dikshit is something that almost every Dilliwallah who’s been around for a while can relate to, but the price is a bit stiff.
Overall, published by Academic Foundation, it’s a great collector’s item. We bring you some of the pictures with their captions.

—Empire Bureau

Interspersing the many tombs of the pre Mughal, Lodhi dynasty, lies one of the city’s most special garden. First christened Lady Willingdon Park, and now called Lodhi Gardens, this oasis in the heart of the city has water bodies, old mature trees, thick, lush bushes, a rose garden and wonderful old ‘monuments’, all ‘walled in’ to make this Park unique and special An architectural detail from the Qutub complex of an imposing arched doorway within the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque
Safdarjung’s Tomb  
A traditional quawalli at the Nizammuddin Dargah, the shrine of the Sufi saint, Nizammuddin Auliya. Pilgrims come here the year round and during the Urs celebrations, dervishes dance, food and sourvenir stalls crowd the space, and music enthralls Kinari Bazaar in Chandni Chowk, in Old Delhi, famous for its gold and silver dress trimmins, its traditional perfumes, attar and all the embellishments required for bridal wear

January 2009

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