"This is our custom," said Dr. Haidar. "We think that a groom must look little bit shy."Dalrymple spends much of the book investigating Delhi's history, especially its glory days in the 17th century, under the Mughal emperors. He learns many fascinating things, and finds many survivals of the old ways, such as Sufi fakirs, eunuchs, practitioners of Galenic medicine, and men who converse with djinns. There is a sadness to this exploration, because modern Delhi is cut off from its past by the chasm of partition. In 1947, more than 300,000 Muslims fled Delhi for Pakistan, and nearly a million Sikhs and Hindus from the Punjab moved in. The old courtly culture of the city was largely destroyed, and to find men who remember the old ways and speak the city's unique dialect of Urdu Dalrymple had to travel to Karachi in Pakistan. Sometimes I wished Dalrymple had spent his year in a city with more continuity in its past.
"He certainly doesn't look as if he is enjoying himself much."
"Maybe he is thinking that today he will loose his freedom. After this day he will be having to obey his wife."
"I thought Muslim men were always the unchallenged heads of their households."
"This thing is not true," said Dr. Haidar. "In all countries, irrespective of religion, behind the scenes the woman are ruling the men. How long have you been married?"
"After a while you will understand," said Dr. Haidar, shaking his head sadly.
Still, it's a fine book, and I recommend it to anyone curious about India's past and present.