Damascus and Dalrymple @ BYOB Party in June 2017 (Part 1)

This time Meera Iyer co-hosted the BYOB Party with us. Meera is the Co-convener of INTACH Bangalore and Co-founder of Carnelian, a company that specializes in heritage tours. We traveled to her home in the quaint Uttarahalli, a suburb in Bangalore. True to the spirit of heritage, the BYOB Party kicked off with some history.

Apurba couldn’t resist picking up a book by Dalrymple from Blossom Book House on Church Street (if you live in Bangalore and you love books, this is where you would go). In his book, From the Holy Mountain: A Journey In The Shadow of Byzantium, Dalrymple speaks about countries with glorious histories, now under the siege of war. With a historian’s eye for detail and a storyteller’s wit, Dalrymple takes the reader on a journey through the Byzantine world, following in the footsteps of a monk called John Moschos who had written a book called Spiritual Meadow. Dalrymple has written In Xanadu using a similar premise, following the footsteps of Marco Polo. Moschos’s grand spiritual project involved saving the wisdom of the sages. Islam was making its inroads and Christianity was subtly fleeing the Middle East. It was a revelation to Apurba that Christianity was as eastern a religion as Islam and Judaism.

Dalrymple writes a detailed account of the civil war in Turkey, the ruins of war in Beirut and the tension in the West Bank. He starts in Anatolia in Turkey, travels through Syria and finally arrives at Jerusalem.

“Nobody knows these things,” Apurba said. “Even friends who have visited Turkey do not know about the Armenian Genocide in 1915.” Dalrymple describes how unIslamic architecture has systematically lost out to competition. Anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire, its past and present, will love this book.

You might like this video where Dalrymple talks about his earlier travels through these regions.

Jaya mentioned a book called Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr, a fictional saga of the loves and lives of three generations of Palestinian Christian women. The book was eye-opening as it revealed the fact that Arab identity was not necessarily always Islamic.

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