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Meet Akbar’s ghost as Allan Sealy weaves together poetry and prose

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New Delhi, April 19: It’s a blazing hot afternoon just outside the gatehouse of Jodha Bai’s palace in Fatehpur Sikri. Tourists throng the forecourt. The air above the red flagstones is so hot that it begins to wrinkle and there in the haze — near enough to touch — stands the ghost of Akbar.

This ethereal yet sublime narrative forms the backdrop of Irwin Allan Sealy’s latest book “Zelaldinus”, in which past and present, nobles and commoners, history and fiction rub shoulders.

“He looks exactly like the line drawing in my school history book; so he’s easy enough to recognise. We get chatting and he shows me around his dead city. We talk about everything under the sun and naturally we don’t neglect the state of India today. A plot develops, a story within a story, of romance and adventure that carries the emperor to the India-Pakistan border for a crackling climax,” Sealy told IANS about his just-released book.

But Akbar has been a recurring personality in many recent books, both fiction and non-fiction. Most lately, Shazi Zaman’s book on the Mughal emperor gained critical acclaim. And that is not all — a number of books have even been written on Akbar’s court at Fatehpur Sikri as well. What should the readers expect from this book?

The 66-year-old writer responded saying that there’s a chequered stone terrace in the Diwan-i-khas at Sikri where, contemporary accounts say, Akbar used to play a kind of human chess that must have looked like a pageant. These books make one imagine costumes, perhaps music, in a kind of charade.

“My book is set up as a masque, that is to say a dramatic production of the kind once staged at royal courts, full of trumpets and kettledrums and incident and colour. At the same time it’s not frivolous entertainment; I think the Mughal history that underwrites it breathes through the text. I hope the themes it tackles — kingship, loyalty, fatherhood and sacrifice — will be apparent to serious readers.

“And I made a deliberate effort to flesh out Akbar the man, rather than the king. The fact that this is poetry, a novel in verse, means you can’t breeze through as you might with conventional historical fiction; much of the pleasure is literary, to be savoured line by line,” he maintained.

The offering at hand is a classic mix of prose and poetry. Sealy said that they are actually the same substance, “like India and Pakistan”, but each has become a little inflexible over time. It’s time the barbed wire came down.

Asked about his effortless weaving together of poetry and prose, he said: “Poetry is more pared back, it’s language under greater pressure, so naturally it’s less readily achieved and appreciated, but prose too can be compressed, and it can contain vatic elements, so it’s not always a simple expository medium. The weaving together you speak of came quite naturally, but I would like also to think there’s a mingling.”

The author, whose novel “The Everest Hotel: A Calendar” was shortlisted for the 1998 Booker prize, said that many years ago a friend had dropped him off at Fatehpur Sikri. It was one of the hottest days of the year but Sealy was unfazed by the extreme weather as he sat in a water garden on the hill and came under the spell of the place.

Recalling the day, the much-acclaimed writer went on to add that the place has a little pavilion with a fretted stone water race and a pool, where one can sit in the sunken garden in the heart of summer and be utterly content.

“I had been to Sikri before but never alone and this time the solitude wrung some poems. The next time I took a sketch book and spent a week on the hill, and after that I was a constant visitor,” he elaborated on how the idea of this book came about.

Underlying the depiction of a rich and varied court life at Sikri in the book are reflections on kingship, a meditation on fathers and sons, and a plot within a plot that tells a crackling story of love across the Pakistan border — while through it all strides the nimble ghost of Akbar himself. Jalaluddin (Zelaldinus) Akbar.

Sealy said he has tried — with every book — to discover forms that belong here, so that the shape and the style of the artefact take on a local character. He said that he did not believe in simply telling a local story but using local techniques. It should go beyond flavour, the way tea tastes different in a kulhar.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])

IANS

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India

Kota creates world record with 2 lakh people performing yoga

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Kota yoga day

Jaipur, June 21: Rajasthan’s Kota established a world record on Thursday when around two lakh people performed yoga at one place on the occasion of the International Yoga Day.

The event took place in the presence of yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia at the RAC ground.

Speaking to IANS, an officer, Hariom Gurjar, said: “We have created a Guinness record as this is the first time these many people performed yoga together at one place.”

He explained that counting of the participants was done with the help of bar codes given to each contestant.

A total of 4,000 volunteers were present on the occasion and a drone centre was set up to keep an eye on the ground. People started reaching the RAC ground from 5 a.m.

A certificate was given to Vasundhara Raje Scindia, District Collector Gaurav Goyal and Baba Ramdev by two Guinness Book of World Record officials who came from London to monitor the proceedings.

Baba Ramdev tweeted that more than two lakh people performed yoga on the International Yoga Day.

“Yog is the best way for the students to de-stress themselves. Thousands of students have joined #YogainKota, the education capital of Rajasthan,” he tweeted.

Earlier, the Chief Minister called for maximum participation from people to set up a world record on the occasion.

Till date, Mysore shares the record where around 55,506 people performed yoga simultaneously at one place on International Yoga Day.

IANS

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India

Rahul says PM fast asleep, FM breaking news on Facebook

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Rahul in Mandsaur

New Delhi, June 21: Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched a blistering attack on the Narendra Modi government and the  RSS  for extending the invisible hand that caused tremendous damage to the  Indian economy.

The Congress president posted a tweet on country’s economic situation saying the country’s Finance Minister has been breaking news on the micro-blogging site Facebook while the national economy is on the brink of collapse.

The Congress president attacked Rashtriya Swayamsewak Singh, the ideological parent of the BJP and said that “the brightest have fled the sinking ship and the invisible hands of the RSS has steered the economy onto the rocks as the Captain who took the Demonetisation decision is fast asleep.”

The Congress leader took to Twitter to share the present economic scenario

”Ex ? FM is locked in his room, breaking news on FaceBook.

BJP Treasurer has the keys to the Indian Economy.

The brightest flee the sinking ship, as the “invisible hand” of the RSS steers it onto the rocks.

Meanwhile, Captain DeMo is fast asleep.

It’s crazy out there !” he tweeted.

Rahul Gandhi said, ”The FM is locked in a room,” adding that it was a breaking news on the micro-blogging site” as Arun Jaitley has been hospitalised due to his kidney ailment

The Indian economy is on a downward spiral due to mismanagement of the BJP,  the Gandhi scion said that ”the BJP national treasurer was actually running the economy”.

 

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On International Yoga Day, Kangana Ranaut performs Yogasanas in London

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New Delhi, June 21: Actress Kangana Ranaut on Thursday celebrated International Yoga Day in London, where she is currently shooting for her upcoming film ‘Mental Hai Kya’.

Pictures and video of Kangana performing yoga at London’s Hyde Park have been shared by the actress’ official fan club on Instagram.

“Kangana Ranaut shows her dedication towards yoga on International Yoga Day 2018 and encourages everyone to adopt yoga as a lifestyle and a way to spiritual awakening,” read the caption.

In another post, the actress actually amused everyone in the video as she practiced some Yogasanas like a pro.

“Kangana Ranaut practicing the ancient science of yoga on International Yoga Day. The key to practice yoga is patience & stillness,” the post read.

And after watching the video, we must say, she indeed performed some of the most toughest exercises.

In one of the videos, Kangana is seen perforiming a perfect and a flawless backbend while in the other she performs a generic stretchting Yoga exercise. One must not forget the cute thumbs up she showed to the fans after completing the yoga exercises.

On this International Yoga Day, Seems Kangana became the first bollywood celebrity to wish her fans a happpy yoga day.

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