Friday, May 19, 2017

People Called Ahmedabad - Book Review

People Called Ahmedabad
Curated by Nisha Nair-Gupta
Review By Ila Garg

People Called Ahmedabad, is a collective narrative which aims to unravel the Ahmedabad city. It is published by Random House Publishers. The cover is a photographic collage of what makes the city so special for its people. It also tells why Ahmedabad needs a book to tell about its journey! How people shaped up the city and its history, how food becomes an integral part of every discussion that belongs to Ahmedabad! It should not be mistaken just as a travelogue though because it’s a deep insight into the city and its people. It’s all about how people see Ahmedabad.

Nisha Nair-Gupta is the founder and principal curator at the People Place Project and the principal architect at Design Variable. With varied work experience as an architect, journalist and being an active participant in public art initiatives, she oscillates between her two interests of design and writing. She has spearheaded People Called Mumbai, the first curatorial and publication venture of the Project and now the second, People Called Ahmedabad.

The blurb reads as, “People Called Ahmedabad is the city’s collective narrative through stories of its people. 55 stories that assimilate the city, falling serendipitously into compartments to encompass its history. An endeavour that has sifted through the city to bring forth stories about the mujawar at Ahmed Shah’s tomb, the scion of the city’s oldest philanthropic family, a refugee community that now calls the city home, the significant kitli culture, entrepreneurs who have made the economy of the city tick, internet sensations who have revived the love for food among youth, a museum that talks about conflict, a bookseller at the city’s famous ravivari and many more often we take the city we dwell in and the life around us for granted. People Called Ahmedabad is an attempt to pause, listen and reflect. To let the city and its people reveal some untold stories.

The 55 stories are centred on how Ahmedabad came into being, how the city by the river is so special and has made a difference in the lives of its people. Nisha Nair-Gupta as the curator of this book has managed to unleash her creativity through these stories by not only tracking down these stories but also showing them the light of the day. Each story is well written and will do wonders in connecting the readers to Ahmedabad as a city with a unique blend of events and culture. The book talks in detail about the lives of people who give the city it's spirit and character. It’s not the geographical lines that make the city but the people who reside in the city.

As The Readers Cosmos rightly says, “One person thought differently and she started mapping a city via what really makes it one, ‘its people’. There is so much more to the city than just the standing architectural giants or mouth-watering delicacies. Their lives join to make its history and its tomorrow. A city is like a giant organism made from all of us that live in it; it eats, sleeps and has a feel of its own, its own charm and its own troubles.”

The author has successfully portrayed the deep and hidden realities of the city. I never ever read about some of the astonishing details that the book reveals. For instance, did you know that Parag Desai brainstormed with Gandhiji to come up with the brand name “Wagh Bakri” for their pan India tea brand? Amazing, right? Who knew that Jafferbhai, a muslim, and his family made sure a diya is lit near the figurine of Goddess Lakshmi? Nobody talked about it anywhere before. Reading this made me feel the worthlessness of the Hindu-Muslim tensions! Anyway, there’s more! Did you know about the story of Ahmed Shah, the one that founded Ahmedabad?

The language is simple and easy to comprehend. Readers will find the events quite interesting. I found it quite engaging. The subject is tackled beautifully by the skillful author. You don’t have to be an Ahmedabadian to read and enjoy these stories.

Further, this 316-page book is good enough to expose the hidden and hushed-up stories of the city that go beyond the overt details. It’s a light read and overall a compelling book.

Ratings: 4/5

Buying Link: Amazon

This (Unbiased) book review is a part of "The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books log on to Thanks Nimi Vashi for giving me the opportunity to read such a nice book!

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