Altaf Hussain Asad
The inner voice kept murmuring for quite some time and Raza Rumi found it hard to ignore it. Finally, he gave in. The inner voice urged him take the pen and write ‘Delhi by Heart’ which is most befitting answer to the question that was gnawing at his heart. During his various visits to Delhi, Raza would feel as if he were roaming on his home turf. Fed on the heavy doses of text book gibberish, he found the territory of the ‘enemy’ quite accommodative and friendly. The commonalities between the two countries were too numerous to be brushed aside. Raza Rumi, a noted journalist, development expert, blogger, and an art buff has tried to rekindle the spirit of warmth and friendship between the two countries who have gained nothing by being at each other’s throats.
‘Delhi by Heart’ is neither a travelogue nor a cumbersome academic pursuit. The author hasn’t tried to load the narrative with unnecessary facts to harass the readers. The journey of love and warmth commenced the day when he got a chance to interact with Indians in his professional career. He found out that the people of the ‘enemy’ country were quite affable and lovely and there was no reason to loathe them. Once the veil of ignorance was done away with the author felt great pull towards Indian people as well the luminous city, Delhi.
The urge to be an author got better of him and he started pouring his heart onto the paper. There wasn’t any sort of planning and things went on smoothly and lo and behold an alluring book was born. ‘I have always wanted to be an author. This, an unintended and unplanned book, is my first attempt at trying to be one. And while not accustomed to writing per se, I must confess I was quite unsure how the book would shape up until the publisher gave her approval to the initial draft. The book was written between 2007 and 2009 as a testament to my discovery of Delhi and its multi layered history. By no means is this venture an academic one, nor is it a journalists contemporary account as it is in many ways an internalized dialogue with a bit of research and occasional interview’, writes Raza Rumi in the preface of his book.
Raza Rumi wanders through the width and breadth of Delhi with a curiosity that keeps him on the move. He explores the city as well its top notch figures and artists and chit-chats with them to get to the soul of Delhi which is resilient and gets to its feet after any calamity within no time. He has been able to befriend many a quintessential Delhi Wallahs including the indomitable daughter of the city, Sadia Dehlvi.
So the author not only explores the city on his own but also likes to see the city as shown by his friend Sadia Dehlvi. So when she takes him along to meet the hirsute Sardar who is ‘Not a Nice Man to Know’ Raza Rumi is a bit confused and nervous. But Sardar Khuswant Singh turns out to be a man who exudes nothing but warmth. ‘Ashe sips on his precious one drink of Scotch with soda, I start looking at him with a growing feeling of familiarity. His warmth is almost infectious and we speak in a special type of English littered with Punjabi phrases, Urdu couplets and Hindustani, all forming a peculiar semantics that is comprehensible to those present in the room’, Raza Rumi narrates his first impression after having enjoyed the company of indomitable Sardar Khuswant Singh.
Throughout the whole passionately written narrative, Raza Rumi loves all that is worthy of love and detests all which is worth loathing. He is a sentient soul who believes that while living in this ‘Global Village’ we can’t afford to nurture age old rivalries and prejudices and bury them once and for all. He meets many people in Delhi, visits many places ,and explores the city through its book stores, universities, academics, common folk, and off course, thorough an array of its mouth watering dishes which he relishes like a true Lahori. ‘Delhi by Heart’ is not merely an account of the city; it is about the glorious people who made Delhi the city it is. The book reflects an eternal shadow of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who is to Delhi what Data Ganj Bakhsh is to Lahore. And then, how can one forget about the sweet and everlasting lullabies of Amir Khusrau.
Raza Rumi has paid full justice to the city of Delhi while being a Pakka Lahoria at heart. He must have gone through numerous books to make his book authentic, but the narrative is not cumbersome to read. All you need is to pick up the book as the book will make you finish it on its sheer brilliance. Scholarly yet a very racy read, ‘Delhi by Heart’ must be read by all those who believe that enough is enough and peace should be given a chance.