Delirious Delhi by Dave Prager
Set amidst New Delhi between late 2007 to early part of 2009, Delirious Delhi by Dave Prager is a collection of anecdotes from the lives of Dave Prager and Jenny Steeves – the expats from New York –their experience of first earthquake; getting used to the sound and noise level and the smell of the winter, the summer, the first summer rains and monsoon and finally the spring. Interestingly, the Dave covers much more than initial expat experience and the weather changes. He dives deep into transportation – home office home and beyond ; the good experience with the auto rickshaw drivers and the bad; into Delhi culture – food, tastes of food and vegetables, community, religion, festivals, wedding ceremony, arranged marriage establishing its links to rate of divorce in India and USA. Dave’s keen observation are strewn all over the book – his recount of shopping experiences – the unusual attention customer get in an Indian store to how “an unkempt environment could actually be a competitive advantage.” Dave’s rendition of the cheap labour and the economics therein – the inhuman profession and quality of life endured by the underprivileged, his realization that child labour may just be shade better than impoverished childhood are thought provoking! His ability to depict the contradictions in the “legendary urinary habits of Delhi men” with that of the “spotless metro”, the city sprawl with the “red-light economics” is commendable. His optimism – that in not very distant future Delhi will truly become world class that every delhiite want it to become, but its inner fabric – that makes every stranger feel at home, will remain constant forever – is infectious.
Delirious Delhi by Dave Prager stands out in many aspects – for one in Dave’s ability to seamless compare the Indian and American cultures – tool addiction versus jugaad, being outspoken versus being politically correct, arranged marriage versus “relationship based on anything but our own choices” to name a few, in this regard. For the other in Dave’s amazing sense of humor; the detail and style in which he portrays the characters – the domestic help, garbage collector, his neighbors, colleagues, his boss Murali, his expat friends and more. However, some observations in the book are questionable ; Dave’s theory of the rate of divorce and its linkage to arranged marriage in India, his assessment of municipal design in south Delhi, his submission that most westerners go through a love hate cycle in India eventually culminating into an all encompassing spirituality.
HarperCollins claims Delirious Delhi by Dave Prager to be:
A witty and insightful account of two new Yorkers meeting sixteen million Delhiities, Dave Prager’s new book is a story of American jugaad. Organized into twelve thematic chapters (like worklife, transportation, and food), Delirious Delhi is perfect for expats and locals alike: it helps newcomers orient themselves to this intense and amazing city, and it lets veterans see it through eyes that have never seen anything like it before.
For the most part we agree; Delirious Delhi by Dave Prager lives up to its expectations – a recommended read for any expat visiting India and useful for locals wanting to experience the real Delhi beyond travelogues and common wisdom.
SmartBuy Rating: 4/5
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Note: This is an author requested review. We were contacted by the author to write this review.