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WRITING IS MY FIRST LOVE – ROSHEN DALAL AT WIC INDIA DCLF 2017

Dehradun Life

Roshen Dalal (born 1952) is an Indian writer of books for adults and children on the history of India and its religions.  Excerpts from her interview at the WIC India Dehradun Community Literature Festival 2017.

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Where do you live?

Does where you live influence your writing?  I have been living in Dehradun, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, for the last three years, moving here from Delhi, and have been wondering if a change of place affects one’s writing.

Dehradun has around 600,000 people compared with Delhi’s 16 million. Everyone is somewhat laid-back. People drop in unannounced, and stay for hours. There are steep slopes to climb, tall trees, and in the background, the Middle Himalayas, glittering with lights in the dark, very occasionally covered with snow. In the monsoon there is incessant rain.

The city is rapidly changing, the trees being cut, high-rise buildings being constructed.

But there are beautiful buildings too, such as this Buddhist temple.

A little distance behind the house, the Johri forest still survives. With increasing encroachment, monkeys descend from there in hordes, one hears about leopards prowling, and yesterday I saw a jackal.

Rather than traffic, I hear donkeys, pigs, chickens, dogs, and the sound of rain.

Does where one lives affect one’s writing? I don’t really know, but the circumstances in which one lives, has an effect.

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A song on Dehradun—The Beatles

On 8 December 2015, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, where the Beatles stayed in 1968, was finally opened to the public. This day was chosen as it is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death who was shot dead  in 1980. As it is part of Rajaji National Park, the Chaurasi Kutia ashram, had been closed to tourists, though they used to sneak in whenever they could. Now it is officially opened, though a bit expensive to visit, Rs 600 for foreigners and Rs 150 for Indians.
The Beatles spent some time here in 1968. They composed a number of songs while they were here, even one on Dehradun, which never formed part of an album, but now is available on youtube. The lyrics are ‘Dehra Dehra Dun, Dehra Dun Dun/ Dehra Dehra Dun/Dehra Dun Dun/ Many Roads can take you there /Many different ways/one direction takes you weeks/ another takes you days/ many people on the roads /looking at the sights/ Many others with their troubles/looking for their rights/see them move along the roads/in search of a life divine /beggars in a gold mine …Dehra Dehra Dun /Dehra Dun Dun”.

The list of other songs composed at this time can be found at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_in_India