Expat in the City
Susanna Wickes
DELIRIOUS DELHI: INSIDE INDIA'S INCREDIBLE CAPITAL by Dave Prager Delirious Delhi, 2012, 390 pp., 399
January 2012, volume 36, No 1

‘Delhi is whatever you make of it’, muses New Yorker Dave Prager in Delirious Delhi, the Capital’s latest travelogue-cum-survival guide. ‘Every person defines Delhi for his or her self, and no two Delhi struggles are the same. At any given point, your experience will be the exact oppo-site of my experience, and we’ll both be right.’

It’s refreshing to read a statement like this, especially at a time when publishing houses seem to be lapping up the tales of woe and/or wisdom that expats inevitably gather as they live or travel here. There’s a typical formula to these, which goes something like this: a firangi arrives in India. Hates it. Struggles. But slowly adapts, and, ultimately, loves it. And then assumes the authority to deconstruct the country and its culture, and through all sorts of sweeping statements presents his definition of the ‘Real India’ (whatever that is).’

Delirious Delhi is delightfully different. Following the huge success of Our Delhi Struggle, a blog started by Prager’s wife, Jenny, and curated by both of them during the eighteen months they spent living and working in the capital, the book covers pretty much all aspects of life in the city; from negotiating with autowallahs to sampling street food to dealing with beggars. It’s an extensive collection of observations and anecdotes ranging from the hilarious to the harrowing, neatly tied together with bits of well-researched trivia and Prager’s signature good humour. And that’s what makes this book: the candid, unpretentious and completely open-minded attitude with which the author writes.’

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