Book Reviews

Book Review: Sahibs Who Loved India by Khushwant Singh

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Sahibs Who Loved India is a collection of articles compiled and edited by Khushwant Singh. The articles have been written by people who have been associated with India from 1930’s to 1970’s. Their infatuation, love, likes (mostly) and dislikes about India have been discussed in a (sometimes) witty and at other times in a serious manner. As the book is based on theme, “What India means to them (the authors)”, it is interesting to read the views of Shaibs and Memsahibs who have lived in India and worked there in various capacities. This includes military men, barristers, judges, school masters, news reporters, editors and bureaucrats.

The men and women seemed to have a fondness for India as is evident form their accounts. One is surprised to read that at times Memsahibs and Sahibs even wore Indian dresses and ate Indian food. I believe the selection has been made by Khushwant Singh on the basis that all these people loved Indians and were open to mingling with them which is contrary to the customs rife at that time. Most if not all of them have written how they were against the racial divide so much prevalent at that time in India. There is enough talk of shikar, farming, disease, the work environment and personal recollections which make an interesting read. The book covers areas that now make up the part of India and surprisingly men and women who served and lived in the now Pakistan are missing. This can be understood as Khushwant Singh has written this book for Indian audience and readership.

Most of the stories start with how the authors chanced upon India, how they arrived, where they lived, worked, fell in love and why they chose to stay in India even after partition. The Indian inspired tone is evident in all but one article. Since the authors were based in the pre-partition era so there’s talk of the political environment of that time, the polo maidans, of World War II, the film industry, picnics, partying and even poodle-fakin Smile

I think this is a good book to read and learn about the pre-partition India as it gives valuable information to the readers and is a firsthand account of events and life in those days.

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