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Delhi - Adventures in a Megacity

by Sam Miller

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Product ID:33232




Penguin Books


9780143415534 - Year: 2014 - Pages: 291



Sam Miller
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Author: Sam Miller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 291
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9780143415534


In this extraordinary portrait of one of the world’s largest cities, Sam Miller sets out to discover the real Delhi, a city he describes as being ‘India’s dream town— and its purgatory’. He treads the city’s streets, including its less celebrated destinations—Nehru Place, Pitampura and Gurgaon—places most writers ignore. His encounters with Delhi’s people, from rag pickers to members of the Police Brass Band, create a richly entertaining portrait of what the city is and what it is becoming. Miller is, like so many of the people he meets, a migrant in one of the world’s fastest growing metabolizes and the Delhi he depicts is one whose future concerns us all.

Miller possesses an intense curiosity; he has an infallible eye for life’s diversities, for all the marvelous and sublime moments that illuminate people’s lives. This is a generous, original, humorous portrait of a great city; one which unerringly locates the humanity beneath the mundane, the unsung and the unfamiliar."

Delhi was once, several hundred years ago, the most populous city in the world. For better or worse, it may become so again. It is a city that has suffered many calamities, and has repeatedly risen from its own ruins. Delhi has been scoffed at, coveted, decimated, lionized, demolished and rebuilt. It is nearing its millennium—and all of its multiple avatars are visible through a thickening crust of modernity. It is the capital of a nation that is beginning to claim the twenty-first century as its own, whose struggle with poverty is incomplete, but whose aspirations for success seem unquenchable. Delhi is now a megalopolis, sprawling beyond its own borders, swallowing up villages and farmland, sucking in migrants, spewing out pollution. There are no natural limits to this rampant city, nothing to stop it growing except, perhaps, if it fails to live up to the new Indian dream. From all over India, they flock to Delhi. They want jobs and a brighter future for their children. Delhi, the once sleepy, boring, parochial capital, derided for decades by Bombayites and Calcuttans, has emerged from their shadows. It is becoming India’s dream town—and its purgatory.

In 2004, Delhi’s population passed fifteen million; more than twenty million if you include its suburbs. The following year, another, more significant, global landmark was passed. For the first time in history, the majority of human beings lived in towns or cities. The world had—by the narrowest of margins—become urban. And the great western cities of previous millennia, London, Paris, Rome and Athens, those archetypes of urban existence, are being dwarfed and prettified; and it is the new and ancient cities of Asia that are the pulsating giants of the twenty-first century. Delhi, the city of Sultanates and Mughals, of Djinns and Sufis, of poets and courtesans, is now also a city of cybercafés and shopping malls, of Metros and multiplexes.

Praise for Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity

…Sam Miller has created a book that is both a quest and a love letter, and one which is as pleasingly eccentric and anarchic as its subject. Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity teems with strange stories and bizarre quiddities, rich discoveries and unexpected diversions. It will delight Delhi lovers and baffle and amaze those who have so far remained oblivious to its erratic but oddly addictive charms.
== William Dalrymple

Sam Miller brings alive a lost city with passion and knowledge. For anyone who has even had a fleeting relationship with India’s national capital, this is a must read . . .
== Rajdeep Sardesai

I have lived in Delhi for forty years and always wanted to read a book which I feel encompasses the whole of my city. Here it is. . . .[It] is a wonderful read, but it’s also a must for anyone concerned about the future of India and indeed democracy’s future.
== Mark Tully

‘Sam Miller’s book makes fascinating reading because he sets out to discover Delhi in a manner that brings out both its indelible past and its pulsating present. Miller writes with . . . Effervescence and is often irrepressibly funny’
== Pavan Varma

‘A combination of Richard Sennett and Mr Bean, he is also in the tradition of the mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun.’
== Narayani Gupta

‘Miller’s Delhi is the liveliest of city travelogues, a beguiling introduction to the Indian capital, and an irresistible read for even the faintly curious’
== John Keay

‘a delightful narrative . . . An exciting read’
== Deccan Herald

‘The tone is of an insider . . . [the] humor is understated, self deprecatory, and very humane’
== Financial Express

‘Miller is clearly in love with his city . . . [he] always draws your attention to rare pleasures’
== Outlook Traveller

‘Miller makes laser-sharp observations of the city’s architecture and inhabitants, talking to everyone from university professors to rag pickers’
== Lonely Planet Magazine

‘[a] dizzying, droll travelogue . . . His tales of urban wandering form a valuable archive of a rapidly transforming city’
== Guardian

‘His meander along the highways, markets and alleyways of one of the biggest cities in the world is a faithful chronicle of contemporary Indian society and the imprint that centuries of change have left on the country’
== New Statesman


‘No other book on Delhi is quits as readable as sam miller’s…’
== Khushwant Singh

‘A book that is . . . As eccentric and anarchic as its subject’
== William Dalrymple




Chapter One: In which the Author is dazzled by the Metro, finds a cure for haemorrhoids and turns the tables on an unscrupulous shoeshine man

An Early Intermission

Chapter Two: In which the Author explores the mysteries of the sodomitic gerund, monastic nudity and geocaching

A Second Intermission

Chapter Three: In which the Author is spat at, flirted with and eventually beheaded

A Third Intermission

Chapter Four: In which the Author encounters a digital Mahatma, unravels the mystery of Stella of Mudge and engages in solvent abuse

A Fourth Intermission

Chapter Five: In which the Author discovers a celluloid wardrobe, is described as a wanker and meets some bestial shoe-cleaners

A Fifth Intermission

Chapter Six: In which the Author expectorates a carrot, meets an asthmatic goat and identifies a nappy thief

A Sixth Intermission

Chapter Seven: In which the Author rediscovers Tintin, prepares for the Olympics and locates the Hand of God

A Seventh Intermission

Chapter Eight: In which the Author is accused of queue-jumping, delivers a discourse on Mozart and considers the best way of disposing of a dead body

An Eighth Intermission

Chapter Nine: In which the Author visits Ludlow Castle, learns the meaning of choledocholithotomy and almost buys a packet of condoms

A Ninth Intermission

Chapter Ten: In which the Author tries to break into jail, falls into a manhole and encounters several tiny terrorists

A Tenth Intermission

Chapter Eleven: In which the Author is phlebotomized, meets a human yo-yo and avoids the cannibals of Noida

An Eleventh Intermission

Chapter Twelve: In which the Author climbs a malodorous mountain, reflects on poverty and hope and falls at the feet of King George V

A Twelfth Intermission

Chapter Thirteen: In which the Author is chased by killer pigs, meets the ‘Magnet Man’ of West Delhi and has a doleful wander through the Millennium City



Copyright Acknowledgements

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