Meeting William Dalrymple | A Visit to ‘Serendipity Delhi’

I am having an ‘Oh-my-God-I-am-so-star-struck’ moment here. 🙂

I am not sure how I came across this place called ‘Serendipity Delhi‘ on Instagram but I was happy with what I saw. It’s a concept store for home decor and apparel set in a refurbished haveli in Chattarpur, Delhi, India.

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And soon after I started following them, they posted a picture about them hosting a story telling event by William Dalrymple. Wait. What? What did I just read? I have to go here (even though I have read only one of his works but I know I want to meet him in person).

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So, it was a fund-raiser for an Animal Welfare NGO – All Creatures Great and Small where William Dalrymple was going to do a book reading session of his book ‘Return of a King‘ along with a Ghazal performance by Vidya Rao. As you might have guessed, I went simply because it was a great chance to see him in person. Would it be okay if I do a dissection of my star struck moment? Either way, I really, really want to do it.

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When we reached there, the event hadn’t started and I assumed that the author mustn’t have reached. Some people were having tea in the balcony and I started to look around. After a few minutes, I see some people shifting in the balcony and I realize that he is also sitting there in the balcony. Shock. Wow. I kept looking wide-eyed when it was about time to go to the terrace where the event was to be held. He stood and started walking towards the staircase. I was in the way. Still looking wide-eyed with a smile.

‘Hi’, he says.

‘Hi Sir! Big fan’, I say. We shake hands. I get a bit out-of-the-way to let him and others reach the staircase. My best friend signals me to start for the staircase myself. Still smiling.

We go upstairs and get seated. Since the event was delayed, we assumed that we won’t be able to stick around for the entire do. My best friend tells me that I won’t get a proper time later to get autograph and all. I should do it now because everything is chilled out and it’s the best time. That totally was the best time. No rush and I would get a huge time span to get the autograph and a photo as the event was yet to begin. It was a little embarrassing though because no one else was doing it but he pushed me enough and I realized I should gather some courage now. Off I went and greeted him and his wife and took an autograph and a selfie too. 😛 He even asked me about what I do and stuff. His wife, by the way, the painter Olivia Fraser, is a super sweet person and she was a breath of fresh air. Later, I realized that I was so nervous, I couldn’t comprehend most of the things he said. And he did say quite a lot of things. 😦

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After I came back to where I was sitting, everyone started gathering around him for autographs. Yes, my best friend rocks. He always has the best ideas!

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As you can see from the pictures, the haveli, Serendipity, is quite a beauty. You may want to check it out someday, if it appeals from the pictures. Take care of one thing though. It’s tucked away in a very remote area in Chattarpur and you should not go alone at any cost. I think the only way to reach here is through your own conveyance as I couldn’t spot any autos around even though it’s quite near to the Chattarpur metro station distance-wise.

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I have one major regret. Both I and the author were dressed appropriately for the theme of the book, Afghan history, he in a black Pathani suit and I in a black anarkali with wide-legged pants (like Pakistani Shararas). I don’t know if this was all a coincidence but it’s just sad that I did not get a full picture clicked. I know I am getting judged now for being so shallow! 😛

Anyway, such is life. 🙂

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The City of the Djinns: Book Opinion

Hey Guys! 😀

This is the first book that I read as part of the Brunch Book Challenge, and as I said, I’ll be logging my opinion about every book that I read as part of this challenge. Oh, you want to participate in this challenge too? Read up about the Brunch Book Challenge.

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Coming back to this book, “The City of the Djinns” by William Dalrymple, I liked this book quite a lot, but not loved it as much as I expected to. Honestly, before I read this book, I wasn’t aware that William Dalrymple is a historian too, so I did not expect this book to have so much of history. Maybe what I expected was a peep into the life of Delhi through an expat’s eyes, but the book is actually a peep into different stages of the history of Delhi. I loved that too. The book was a hearty read and I got to know fun things about Delhi too. It was boring at some points because of too much history. However, I am not complaining about that. I guess that is how this book was conceived and its just that I wasn’t ready for so much history when I started reading it.

In the end, here’s summing up my opinion for it: If you are an Indian or you are interested in India’s history (this book covers quite a lot of eras of Delhi’s history, which are captured beautifully by the book), definitely read this. If you are big on travel reading or historical books, you should try this book for sure. I loved it, considering that I am not that big on travel reading (probably what did it for me is the fact that I love reading about India’s history). If you are a reader, definitely read this. If you are an Indian, in my opinion, you are going to love it. 🙂