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“Dateline Dehradun, plus 45 Admirable Couples” – Like Beer on a Hot Summer Day & Scotch on a Cold Wintry Evening!

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By Kulbhushan Kain
I first met doyen of journalists Raj Kanwarji at the Principal’s Office of Welham Boys. Of course, his huge reputation had preceded him. Afer all, he was and is our Khushwant Singh, Kuldip Nayyar, Inder Malhotra and many more all rolled into one. He has been a veteran journalist, story teller and writer for decades. Among the many dignitaries and celebrities he has written about and interviewed are Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sir Arnold Toynbee.
At 92 years of age, he is sharp as a needle.
“I ca’nt understand how anyone casually can address me as Uncle. I am not everyone’s Uncle. We are the only country in the world where people at the drop of a hat call you “Uncle”!, he recounted in one of our many delightful conversations.

He has written several books. A journalist of today is a future historian. Raj Sir has written extensively about Dehradun and, in particular, his two books “Dateline Dehradun” are a treasure trove of Dehradun, its history and its people.

A few days ago, the sequel to his first volume, titled “PART II DATELINE DEHRA DUN PLUS 45 ADMIRABLE COUPLES” was released. The moment I received it – I devoured it. I must admit that my first reading of it was akin to a thirsty man gulping beer on a hot summer afternoon. I had been waiting for it for quite some time. The second reading promises to be like that of sipping scotch on the rocks on a winter evening – slowly and absorbing every shade of its many textures. It’s the kind of book that makes you race through it and at the same time reflect on it –twin attributes of a great piece of writing.

I know that there are hundreds of lovable and admirable couples in Dehradun. It’s not possible to write about all them. Raj Kanwarji has chosen 45 – and each of them is like “who is who” of Dehradun. The name “45 Admirable Couples” is a bit of a misnomer because the book has sections on Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Ruskin Bond, etc. It has a section on the History of Dehradun, a section on the Institutes of National Importance, some pages from the Author’s Archives (very interesting), profiles of prominent men and women of Dehradun (Vandana Shiva , Navtej Sarna, Bro Caroll, Mike Dalvi, Nayantara Sehgal, Bill Aitken and many more).

The book is racy. Each fact quickly skips to the next one effortlessly. One is always moving with the writer – very fast and into very interesting facts and incidents. It’s impossible to slow down one’s speed while reading for the first time. He mixes the past with the present very judiciously and great dexterity. He brings to the present a part of Dehradun’s past which luckily has been captured for posterity.

Thank you Raj Kanwarji for the book. It’s a book collector’s delight and an invaluable source for generations of the future to read and study. It’s a must read – and everyone should have a personal copy of it. The book in hardcover is available in select bookstores and on Amazon.
A must for anyone who is even a wee bit interested in reading.

(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist
with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at
kulbhushan.kain@gmail.com)