Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) organised the launch of the book ‘In A Land Far From Home’ By Syed Mujtaba Ali [Translation of ‘Deshe Bideshe’ by Nazes Afroz] at 6:00 PM on 04 May, 2015, at the IGCC, House No. 35, Road No. 24, Gulshan-1.
Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty unveiled the book.
An intrepid traveller and a true cosmopolitan, the legendary Bengali writer Syed Mujtaba Ali spent a year and a half teaching in Kabul from 1927 to 1929. Drawing on this experience, he later wrote Deshe Bideshe which was published in 1948.
Ali’s young mind was curious to explore the Afghan society of the time and, with his impressive language skills, he had access to a cross-section of Kabul’s population, whose ideas and experiences he chronicles with a keen eye and a wicked sense of humour.
His account provides a fascinating first-hand insight into events at a critical point in Afghanistan’s history, when the reformist King Amanullah tried to steer his country towards modernity by encouraging education for girls. Deshe Bideshe is the only published eyewitness account of that tumultuous period by a non-Afghan, brought to life by the contact that Ali enjoyed with a colourful cast of characters at all levels of society – from the garrulous Pathan Dost Muhammed and the gentle Russian giant Bolshov, to his servant, Abdur Rahman and his partner in tennis, the Crown Prince Enayatullah.
The discussants of the book were Mr. Afsan Chowdhury and the translator, Mr. Nazes Afroz.
Afsan Chowdhury is a senior journalist-writer-researcher from Dhaka. He has many books – both fiction and non-fiction – and documentary films to his credit. Currently he’s associated with BRAC as communications adviser and as a teacher with the BRAC University.
Mr. Nazes Afroz, the translator of the book, is the former BBC Executive Editor of South and Central Asia. His translation will introduce Syed Mujtaba Ali and this unique book to readers outside Bengal.