Raga 'n Josh: Stories from a Musical Life
Sheila Dhar's autobiographical stories, essays, and memoirs are classics of modern Indian prose. An accomplished singer, the world she inhabited included renowned north Indian classical musicians such as Begum Akhtar, Siddheshwari Bai, Fayyaz and Niaz Ahmed Khan, Kesar Bai Kerkar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, and Bhimsen Joshi. No writer has ever conveyed the ethos of this world and the quirks of its denizens with such wit, irreverence, perceptiveness and empathy. Sheila Dhar's writing straddles many worlds. Once a part of Delhi's political elite, she is inimitably observant about celebrities as diverse as Indira Gandhi, Joan Robinson, Richard Attenborough, and the Queen of Tonga. In other parts of this book she returns to the Old Delhi she grew up in – its sprawling bungalows, its labyrinthine households with their complicated domestic politics, its bygone musical ambience. Incisive intelligence, comic effervescence, self-deprecating humour, and a fascinating ability to manipulate the English language for Indian contexts – all combine to make this book an absolute delight. Praise for the book ‘... contains some of the most thoughtful, most perceptive, and certainly the funniest writing about Indian classical music that I have ever read’ – Amitav Ghosh ‘... very good reading. Nothing of the kind has been published before.’ – Khushwant Singh
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