Delhi 101 by Ajay Jain – Book Review
Ajay Jain, a well-known travel writer and the founder of India’s first Travel Café Kunzum writes about Delhi. His hometown, a city that he grew up in and continues to live. As a traveler, he knows the travelers inquisitive perspective and as a local, he understands the local ethos. In Delhi 101, he tells you 101 things that you can explore in Delhi. Some of them known, some heard but never visited. And some that might surprise and amuse you. He tells you the stories from across the city. Keeps them short and quirky and embellishes them with captivating pictures. Language is conversational with ample dose of wit and humor.
This is a small guide that both the visitors and residents of Delhi can use to explore the city at leisure. He introduces the reader to various facets of the city, its little-known alleys, professions, people, and events. Sometimes he even gives you the contact details in case you are unable to find them on your own. I have walked across Delhi and written about it quite a bit, but there were quite a few things that this book added to my to-be-visited list in Delhi like Chor Minar in Hauz Khas, Kucha Chaudhary Market. For some stories, he gives you a suggested to do list – like at India Gate or for Ramlila performance. You know all these suggestions are coming from author’s own experience and you can trust him with his suggestions.
I fully agree with Ajay when he says you can never write a complete book on Delhi, it has so many layers, so much history, so many dimensions and so many contradictions co-existing that it is impossible to write about it in one lifetime. So he says he chose to stop at 101 because you have to put a stop somewhere. I would say that number also keeps the book handy for people to refer. Pictures are interesting and complement the text. The warnings come in naughty tone, first introducing the reader to something and then saying try at your own risk we are signing the disclaimer here.
The formatting of pages could have been a bit better, the stories sometimes get merged into each other or pictures look cramped. I know it must have been difficult to choose pictures from a great collection, but at times it got clumsy. As the stories do not deep dive into any aspect of the city, they kind of act as a teaser and then leave it up to you to explore and find out.
Read Delhi 101 to know Delhi that you may not know.