'In essays that bespeak a thoroughly cosmopolitan sensibility, Githa Hariharan not only takes us on illuminating tours through cities rich in history, but gives a voice to urban people from all over the world - Kashmir, Palestine, Delhi - trying to live with basic human dignity under circumstances of dire repression or crushing poverty.’
‘This word, home. So easy to say, so casually said every day. Why then is home so hard to see, the way you see other places you visit for a week or two?’
What does a medieval city in South India have in common with Washington D.C.? How do people in Kashmir imagine the freedom they long for? Who does Delhi, city of grand monuments and hidden slums, actually belong to?
Most of all, what makes a city, or any place, home?
In large parts of the world, including India, the prevailing view of people and places—and their multiple voices—has been a western version. How does this view change when it is located in India, and when the stories are complicated by several cultures, languages, traditions and political debates?
From Delhi, Bombay/Mumbai, Ooty and Kashmir to Palestine, Algeria and eleventh-century Córdoba, these intricately carved essays explore cities and other places through the lives of people, and how they see home and belonging. Combining memoir with polemic, historical with imagined narrative, anecdote with poetry, Githa Hariharan recounts defining moments in which people experience the frictions of day-to-day survival, and the collision of ideas, culture, war and colonization. The result is a fascinating and layered story of home: a sense of home, too many homes, broken or lost homes.
Historian Romila Thapar speaks on Almost Home at the New Delhi launch