Author: M J Akbar
Publisher: Chronicle Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8180280039
Byline anthologizes MJ Akbar’s finest writing over the last decade, bringing together essays that reflect the author’s versatility and range. The book is divided into six seamless sections, each with its own identity, woven together by MJ Akbar’s delectably informal prose.
Travel is the first section in which the author shares his passion for history and the occasional fable, the obscure detail, the glorious and the ludicrous. This is followed by Politics and History in which the reader is provided a view of some events and people in the recent past with all the quirks and whimsy that characterize the great as well as the mundane. Cricket Chirping deals with the game that MJ Akbar loves to watch but only obliquely. How else could a piece on the 2001 Indian Cricket tour of South Africa close with a reference to Gandhi’s concern with sexual abstinence? As the author says in an essay in the next section Sidelines (those delightfully off centre pieces): That train of thought has moved…But that is the way with trains. They must travel.
Memories is the most personal and the most autobiographical part of the entire selection, mixing regret, nostalgia and deeply felt sorrow for the friends and times gone forever.
The book ends with a short section entitled On a Personal Note in which James Bond must live to die another day, The Telegraph has to learn to live beyond the age of 20 and Dev Anand remains forever young.
Journalism is the only profession that permits you to travel without making you a traveling salesman. You become, in a way, a traveling purchaser…Words are the currency of this transaction: you buy images with words, and then you pass them on with words as well.
The HowAllah Conspiracy
All the Views that’s Fit to Print
A 9/11 Diary
A Turkey Diary
An Arab Arc
The Holy Trial: A Jordan Diary
History’s Dice Game: An Israel Diary
A Moor’s Diary
One Ear for the Matador
Wild West, Mild West
A California Diary
A Puff of Smoke in California
Hungry in America
The Fall and Rise of Erectile Dysfunctioning
My Fair Lady
A Traveller’s Notebook
Kenya Diary: Was Bob a Spelling Mistake?
A Bihari in Mauritius Finds Life without Laloo
South by South East: Some FTs in South Africa
Neighbours: Mostly Friendly
To Nepal: Exhilaration with a Pensive Touch
The War of Blood Money: Dhaka Notebook
Your Breathly: A Lahore Diary
V & 7 Up: A Dhaka Diary
A CEO in Olives: An Islamabad Diary
Liberty had a Close Shave in Kabul
The Lord of Wars: A Herat Diary
Breakfast with Ismail, Lunch with Dostum
Europe: Plus ca Change
A Foreigner’s Dictionary
Prince au Port: A Portugal Diary
A Paris Diary
Britain: English Spoken Here
Pagan Christmas: A London Diary
Songs of History
A Season of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness
A Picture Postcard, Slightly Damp
Are Bengalis a Martial Race?
Dubliner: An Anglo-Irish Diary
War, Peace and Something in Between
A Kochi Diary: How Green is may Seacoast
Dal Life: A Kashmir Diary
Kargil: A Madness in their Method
POLITICS AND HISTORY
The Revenge of the Poor
Between Foot and Mouth: A Heart Disease from History
Stalin’s Smile and Churchill’s Passion
Bose Preferred Indian Unity to Congress Duplicity
Role Modes: Look Who is Acting Now
From Awara to Yes Boss: A History of India
A Gap of Imagination in the Last 1,000 Years
Was Jawaharlal Nehru a Hindu?
Is Atal Behari Vajpayee a Hindu?
A Mahatma’s Earthquake
A Summit Glossary
Breakfast at Pervez’s
How Do You Rule India?
Politics of the Lynch Mob
Why Modi Deserves Nishan-e-Pakistan
The British Empire is Dead, Finally
A Word or Two About the Congress
Australian Chicken and Lanka Curry
Captain Outrageous: Mix Sport with Politics!
The Scandal of the Indian Bookie
Is Television a Turn On for Cricket?
Take Your Pick
Praying for a Miracle
The Where-Hair Syndrome
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Give Pakistani Humour a Chance
Theopompus: The First Journalist
A Train of Thought
Dead Woman’s Tales
And That Will Be Quite Enough
Hand-recounts at Calcutta Airport
A Horror Story
Poetry’s Love Lost
Words on a Foolish Tomb
There Was a Young Man With a Beard
Some of My Best Friends are Fruit Flies
Why is that Humbug Tony Greig on TV?
Handle With Care, She’s From Calcutta
Revenge of the Bihari
A Trend in the River
Goodbye, My Friend, and Sleep Well
Should Calcutta be Reborn?
The Seventies Set and the First Goodbye
The Last Memory of a Young Man
From the Middle Ages
The Laughter Died Young
The Pinprick was Mightier than the Sword
Question to God: Why? Why? Why?
ONE A PERSONAL NOTE
The Man Who Could Never be Wrong
A Toast to the Telegraph
Some Thoughts in a Heavy Cold