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A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition

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During the chaos of Partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of During the chaos of Partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of the family became part of a grimmer statistic: they featured among the more than one million unfortunate souls who paid with their lives for the division of India and creation of Pakistan. After living in the shadow of his family’s tragedy for decades, in 2008, Rashid made the journey back to his ancestral village to uncover the truth. A Time of Madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to the uniquely human traits of forgiveness, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.


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During the chaos of Partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of During the chaos of Partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. Besides those who fled, other members of the family became part of a grimmer statistic: they featured among the more than one million unfortunate souls who paid with their lives for the division of India and creation of Pakistan. After living in the shadow of his family’s tragedy for decades, in 2008, Rashid made the journey back to his ancestral village to uncover the truth. A Time of Madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to the uniquely human traits of forgiveness, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit.

30 review for A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    Salman Rashid is a foremost travel writer from Pakistan. He has authored nine travel books. And this is his first memoir. I have been reading Partition literature for sometime and when I discovered this was written by a writer from other side, I quickly grabbed it since I had mainly read those by Indian writers. While picking up this book, I had no idea how it will turn out but it was imperative to pick up something to have a balanced perspective on the subject. It didn't turn out to be much dif Salman Rashid is a foremost travel writer from Pakistan. He has authored nine travel books. And this is his first memoir. I have been reading Partition literature for sometime and when I discovered this was written by a writer from other side, I quickly grabbed it since I had mainly read those by Indian writers. While picking up this book, I had no idea how it will turn out but it was imperative to pick up something to have a balanced perspective on the subject. It didn't turn out to be much different from those by Indian writers. The author, in order to trace his roots, travels to India as his family was from Jalandhar in Punjab. (view spoiler)[I would like to add here that Jalandhar is my birth place and my ancestral home, whose contours I still remember( it was renovated later), was quite an old house constructed before partition. So, the mention of place further piqued my interest as I read to find out if there was something, some places or streets I could relate to. But that didn't happen. (hide spoiler)] Rashid writes about the difficulty in procuring an Indian visa for traveling and also some do's and don't s about traveling to either side by the citizens of India and Pakistan. As he travels to find about the truth of his family's ordeal during partition ( a family of his relatives never made it to Pakistan and no one in his family knew what had happened with them) , he also comes across people who told him about the reputation of his Grandfather, who was a doctor, and how later he had developed a religious fervor. He found it difficult to believe. He writes about the stories he had heard from different people while traveling to India and also shares stories from his side. There was one particular story which really touched me, of how a mob, hellbent to murder those traveling to Indian side via a train, let go them without any harm on the call of a village elder they had respected. It was a joy to know that many such instances of human kindness were recorded on both sides. Rashid also shares anecdotes about people who were involved in the gruesome acts of violence during partition and how later they repented their acts. Some of these people suffered from ailments and disabilities later in life and strongly believed it to be the result of their own acts. He also grapples with coming to terms with history, with the 'why' of an event which could have been avoided, an event that has, forever altered this region, has resulted in such animosity between two divided halves that it seems impossible that they once swore by one name, one country, fought together for the freedom and lived amicably with each other. This is a very balanced view on Partition of 1947, sharing the stories from both sides, the author's voice is neutral and empathetic. I would recommend it to anyone looking to read the history and consequences of Partition of 1947.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Prithu

    During the partition period, contemporary historian Andrew Roberts termed Mountbatten as 'a mendacious intellectually limited hustler, whose negligence and incompetence resulted in many unnecessary deaths'. Roberts goes on to state: 'Mountbatten deserved to be court martialed on his return to London.' The aforementioned lines are inscribed in this book while recounting how heavily priced the decision of partition was on the common masses. The mindless massacres that have been inflicted on both s During the partition period, contemporary historian Andrew Roberts termed Mountbatten as 'a mendacious intellectually limited hustler, whose negligence and incompetence resulted in many unnecessary deaths'. Roberts goes on to state: 'Mountbatten deserved to be court martialed on his return to London.' The aforementioned lines are inscribed in this book while recounting how heavily priced the decision of partition was on the common masses. The mindless massacres that have been inflicted on both sides of the border is no longer a myth. A great amount of books, deemed as 'partition literature' has been in circulation for a long time. They give us firsthand accounts of those violence which took place in their families. Rashid's book furnishes a good example of this kind by pointing out several incidents and anecdotes. The book starts with a relatively slow paced narrative. After you go through the first few chapters, it gains speed. If you are acquainted with other books of this kind, then you'll know what to find in this book: the same trainload of carcasses, the same burning hatred in every other people's eyes and at the end, the same baleful repentance of their past misdeeds. If the last line sounds like a trivialization of those macabre incidents, I can't help. Do give a read and you'll know. Characters like Charan Singh, Mahinder Pratap and his unfortunate aunts Jamila and Tahira are omnipresent in partition literature. How good people like the author's grandfather turns into a religious zealot is also a story of its own. They are basically same stories but told under different names and places.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Suraj Kumar

    ‘A Time of Madness’, as the subtitle states is a memoir of partition by Salman Rashid. Salman Rashid is a leading travel writer of Pakistan. This book is an account of what he discovers, when he visits India in the search of his ancestral home in Jalandhar (Punjab). Although one expects to find the story of author’s family, in these pages, there is a lot more to be discovered. There’s not only the story of the author’s family but also of those whom he meets in his journey towards his past. These ‘A Time of Madness’, as the subtitle states is a memoir of partition by Salman Rashid. Salman Rashid is a leading travel writer of Pakistan. This book is an account of what he discovers, when he visits India in the search of his ancestral home in Jalandhar (Punjab). Although one expects to find the story of author’s family, in these pages, there is a lot more to be discovered. There’s not only the story of the author’s family but also of those whom he meets in his journey towards his past. These stories make us think- especially people like me. My forefathers had also migrated from Pakistan. When I read about the violence of that time, I thanked God. My existence is directly attributed to the luck of my grandparents, who made it to this part of the Border safely. Besides that I kept thinking about the sheer stupidity or I would rather say the madness of that time & the circumstances. So, yes! the author does succeed in evoking the emotions of the readers. Besides the stories of bloodshed & of a flick of humanity in those tough times, the author also talks about what led to the partition. Throughout the book, he also keeps on drawing parallels between India & Pakistan, and shows how the two countries trod on two different paths after the partition. It was quite interesting to read what impression our India forms on the minds of the outsiders. He also criticizes the present condition of Pakistan and accounts for what has brought Pakistan to this condition. What I liked the most about the author is that he has written this book in an unbiased manner. He makes commentary on everything without taking any sides. He also goes back to the history and tells how this country came to be known as India and further goes on to explain the absurdity of the idea of the Partition. Thus, this short book has a lot to offer. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the Partition. It made me regret for not having had the chance to listen to the stories of Partition from my own grandparents. Nevertheless it aroused in me a greater respect for them for having established themselves at a new place with nothing at their disposal. My Rating: **** (4/5)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Saurabh Pandey

    The partition had its impact which we can not deny and each every soul present at that time had felt the blow in one or the other way. Coming generations of people who moved to either side also faced the brunt of the partition. The author has penned down his experience of visiting his ancestral lands in India. A must-read for anyone who wants to read a personal experience of a man who came from another side of the border to learn as to what happened to his Grandfather and immediate family.

  5. 4 out of 5

    আদ্যিকালের

    Salman Rashid, a famous travel writer of Pakistan, visited India to find out what happened to his ancestral home in Jalandhar & the family was living in it. I've expected to find an account of his journey in search of his family. However, there are quite a lot of people he met, India in his eyes and a very detail account of his grandfather's last days, mindless violence took place at that time. A balanced view of partition. Salman Rashid, a famous travel writer of Pakistan, visited India to find out what happened to his ancestral home in Jalandhar & the family was living in it. I've expected to find an account of his journey in search of his family. However, there are quite a lot of people he met, India in his eyes and a very detail account of his grandfather's last days, mindless violence took place at that time. A balanced view of partition.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashish Iyer

    Okayish story. One time read. A guy who was born in Jalandhar lives in Pakistan after Partition, comes to visit his hometown to relive his memories. Stories like this need to be told. We should never forget that Congress and Muslim league both divided our country on the basis of religion. Sad that there so many Hindus, Sikhs, Jain, Parsi and Muslims died during partition. This book was more a like travelogue but it lacks emotion.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karishma

    If this man was an Indian, his criticisms of his country (which evidently come from a place of great love) would be denounced as anti-nationalism. It was a great read, although a bit like snooping in someone's personal diary. Salman Rashid comes across as a man of grace and magnanimity, but above all, very fair. Minus 1 star for me because in the last chapter, he philosophises a great deal. Also, his choice of language is borderline pompous. If this man was an Indian, his criticisms of his country (which evidently come from a place of great love) would be denounced as anti-nationalism. It was a great read, although a bit like snooping in someone's personal diary. Salman Rashid comes across as a man of grace and magnanimity, but above all, very fair. Minus 1 star for me because in the last chapter, he philosophises a great deal. Also, his choice of language is borderline pompous.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashish

    'He said it was religious fervour that made him join the rampaging mob. It was passion whipped up by religious leaders in the name of God that made him kill the very same people who had amicably shared the village with him. He said his blood had turned white and he lost count of the number if people he liked. Many if these were neighbours to whom his family sent food on the Lohri festival and who in turn sent them vermicelli or meat depending on which eid it was.' This is a recollection done by o 'He said it was religious fervour that made him join the rampaging mob. It was passion whipped up by religious leaders in the name of God that made him kill the very same people who had amicably shared the village with him. He said his blood had turned white and he lost count of the number if people he liked. Many if these were neighbours to whom his family sent food on the Lohri festival and who in turn sent them vermicelli or meat depending on which eid it was.' This is a recollection done by one Indian man whom the author meets several decades after partition of India-Pakistan, at his ancestors house in India. This book recollects the horrors of the partition, which is more like 'Mother of all Holocausts'. Yes, truly in a sense more people died during the period of partition. The author also argues that creation or more like 'Carving out Mother India' in the name of religion was uncalled for and was influenced by petty politics. Today, after so many decades, Pakistan is still a lost country without proper administration. This book is a must read for ones who actually want to catch up history than what is thought in schools.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Govind Pilla

    A good book , not an easy read. This books deals with the aftermath of partition mostly regarding pakistan point of view , The author's theory of how, the partition molded the mentality of their people along with the influence of Arabia, America and military on the Pakisthan. Very interested concept indeed. And the inclusion of partition surveyors interviews in a good touch. I feel the con is the labour of reading , with some many non contemporary , less often used words in the middle of important A good book , not an easy read. This books deals with the aftermath of partition mostly regarding pakistan point of view , The author's theory of how, the partition molded the mentality of their people along with the influence of Arabia, America and military on the Pakisthan. Very interested concept indeed. And the inclusion of partition surveyors interviews in a good touch. I feel the con is the labour of reading , with some many non contemporary , less often used words in the middle of important sentences. I have to keep on searching the dictionary for appropriate contexts. For beginners they might miss the actual intention of the author by his use of hard words, buy they will understand the basic summary. I feel It should have been more like the Kalam's books, with simple language .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jay Vardhan

    Finished this book in one sitting. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yash Sharma

    The Mother of all Holocaust : The partition of India ------------------------------------------------------------- A land that state propaganda wanted me to believe was enemy territory. But I knew it was a country where my ancestors had lived and died over countless generations. That was the home where the hearth kept the warmth of a fire kindled by a matriarch many hundred years, nay, a few thousand years, ago and which all of a sudden had been extinguished in a cataclysm in 1947. - Salman Rashid A The Mother of all Holocaust : The partition of India ------------------------------------------------------------- A land that state propaganda wanted me to believe was enemy territory. But I knew it was a country where my ancestors had lived and died over countless generations. That was the home where the hearth kept the warmth of a fire kindled by a matriarch many hundred years, nay, a few thousand years, ago and which all of a sudden had been extinguished in a cataclysm in 1947. - Salman Rashid A time of madness, a memoir of partition, is the story of a man who was born in Pakistan, but his heart and soul resides in India, and the reason for this unique likeness for Hindustan, is that it is the land where once his ancestors lived and died. So he visited Jalandhar ( Punjab, India ) the place where his grandfather once lived, he visited the house which was built by his grandfather, he even talked with those people who killed his grandparents, aunt's, during the madness of 1947, when people killed each other in the name of religion and it was the time when India was divided and the newly created Nation by the name of Pakistan was born. He also compared the attitude of people living in India with that of Pakistan, he exposed the hypocrisy of Jinnah and the Muslim league leaders, and criticized the rising influence of Saudi Arabia on Pakistan and it's culture, and the so called ''arabization of pakistan''. And he rightly mentioned that those who are governing pakistan are themselves the most corrupt leaders. I hope someone from Pakistan will read this book, and try to take some advice from this man, who is honest in his thoughts. At at last i will end this with the author's own words- ' If I am anything, I, a child of the Maha Sapta Sindhu, am the truest Hindu '. Although it is a very short memoir, but still the author summarized the story very nicely, and he should have avoided the use of heavy vocabulary to make it more enjoyable for normal Readers. Still I will recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the partition stories. My Ratings : 🌟🌟🌟🌟 ( 4/5 ) I hope you like the Review, thanks for reading, Jai Hind.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Helly

    I enjoy reading about partition tales a great deal, which is why I picked up "A Time of Madness" by Rashid. It is his own memoir, where he recounts his visit to his ancestral place and his discoveries about their past.  During the partition several families were removed from their roots and so was this family. It is not a tale of the author's ancestors, it's a tale of OUR ancestors. I am practically in a dilemma whether Rashid himself hasn't been in the times, for his skills of portrayal surpass I enjoy reading about partition tales a great deal, which is why I picked up "A Time of Madness" by Rashid. It is his own memoir, where he recounts his visit to his ancestral place and his discoveries about their past.  During the partition several families were removed from their roots and so was this family. It is not a tale of the author's ancestors, it's a tale of OUR ancestors. I am practically in a dilemma whether Rashid himself hasn't been in the times, for his skills of portrayal surpass the ability one can acquire only by hearing.  Also, the cover design is an absolutely beautiful representation of what the book contains. The grey images show how the days of partitions had lost all colour and I appreciate the designer's job in this regard. Rarely do books capture the true essence of the dire times which our land has been in, in our past. Salman Rashid takes you on a ride to revisit the painful era of madness, the partition that divided humanity. I will surely be picking up further works of Rashid. Highly Recommended if you love to read non-fiction and good books.  I Rate the book 4*/5*.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Akshay Seth

    Salman Rashid, a resident of Lahore, visits India to retrace the journey of his relatives as they fled the country in August 1947 for the newly carved out state of Pakistan. He also plans to visit his father's ancestral home in Jalandhar & understand what became of the family members who never made it across. A long cherished dream for Salman, this journey to the land of his ancestors materialized after getting thwarted time and again by visa troubles and bureaucratic redtape. I chanced upon Salm Salman Rashid, a resident of Lahore, visits India to retrace the journey of his relatives as they fled the country in August 1947 for the newly carved out state of Pakistan. He also plans to visit his father's ancestral home in Jalandhar & understand what became of the family members who never made it across. A long cherished dream for Salman, this journey to the land of his ancestors materialized after getting thwarted time and again by visa troubles and bureaucratic redtape. I chanced upon Salman Rashid's A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition while sifting through the non fiction genre on the Kindle Store. Truth be told, I was looking for a change from my usual fare of fiction novels which had so far succeeded in keeping mental demons at a safe distance. At first glance, I mistook it as some minor work of Rushdie. The fact that it was available for free further lowered my expectations. After this, the book came across as a pleasant surprise. The author, a seasoned travel writer, aptly conveys the wonder of seeing a culture, similar and yet so different in little ways, through his words. The flow starts off well, with the author comparing the current state of legacy institutions like the Railways in both countries. It meanders in the middle, as the author tries to lengthen the climax of the story but picks up at the end as the author comes face to face with the son of the man who led the murderous mob against his father's doomed relatives. The author ends the memoir with a brutally honest discourse on the shoddy state of affairs in Pakistan and the blooming identity crisis amongst the nation's citizens - “We did however learn one lesson right. Jinnah said, ‘Every successive government [in Pakistan] will be worse than its predecessor’. Leaders and commoners of the Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan made this utterance of his their guiding principle and we have seen a steady and unstoppable decline in governance, bureaucracy and military leadership. The intellectual decay is widespread, for we find progressively feeble-minded and immature persons rising to the top. They say we are ruled by the cream of the nation. To me it seems more like scum riding the flow of a sewer." Although, this chapter seems to have been written keeping the Indian audience in mind (the book doesn't seem to have been published in Pakistan), it makes me wonder whether writers on this side of the border can ever be brave enough to publish such an honest account of our nation's troubles, especially in the times we're living in. The memoir is mostly set in Punjab. The shared Punjabi identity on both sides of the border, and the instances arising out of it, tickles the author's funny bone and he never fails to bring them up now and then. - "'So you don’t drink anymore? I asked Raja’ ‘Not really. Even now I don’t mind a sip or two.’ The phrase he used ‘pee-poo laida ey’ is richly redolent with typical Punjabi sangfroid and nonchalance." As a Punjabi speaker myself, such dialogues succeed in providing lighter moments in a heartfelt memoir with an extremely dark and grim underlying tone. The book is slim and it didn't take me more than four hours to finish. If you're using a Kindle to read during the nation wide lockdown then please don't miss this short memoir of the Partition and its unholy repercussions. P.S. It's free for Prime members. Excerpts: ‘Why did this have to happen?’ I asked on that March afternoon as we stood sheltering from the sun in the gated corner of Krishna Street. Mohinder Pratap looked me squarely in the eye for a moment. ‘It was a time of great madness,’ he said simply. "I say we never really became independent. From British control we speedily slid under American influence and within years became slaves to international monetary agencies that pumped in loans so that even as her leaders misappropriated the funds to enrich themselves beyond measure, Pakistan hurtled down the dark tube of debt-ridden perdition." "It seems it now only remains for our regional languages as well as Urdu to be overhauled. I suppose it is only a matter of time that all sounds unpronounceable in Arabic will be expunged from our lexicons so that the Arab colonization of Pakistan is complete. So much for our independence and a Pakistani identity."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Girl from Mumbai

    The biggest regret in my life and I have had a few has been that I never really had the fortitude or foresight to record my grandfather's memories of his beloved Multan (now Pakistan). I am the only and the last person in my family from this generation who has a keen interest in knowing where her grandparents came from. I don’t think my nephew who is 7 will ever be remotely interested when he grows up to understand this. And it is books like “A time of Madness – a memoir of partition’ written th The biggest regret in my life and I have had a few has been that I never really had the fortitude or foresight to record my grandfather's memories of his beloved Multan (now Pakistan). I am the only and the last person in my family from this generation who has a keen interest in knowing where her grandparents came from. I don’t think my nephew who is 7 will ever be remotely interested when he grows up to understand this. And it is books like “A time of Madness – a memoir of partition’ written the prolific Pakistani writer ‘Salman Rashid’ that makes the regret bigger than what it already is. The author chronicled his journey to India in 2008 to trace his roots in Jalandhar where his family lived before partition. From the onset, you can see that he is not a man of many emotions, there is only 1 mention of him breaking down when his aunt who survived the partition gets killed in her own home. This was a trigger for him to get on this journey through Indian Punjab to find out what actually happened to his grandparents and the siblings of his parents. However, having said that the book is not without stories that make you well up because of the sheer sadness of it all. In the quest to find his own roots the author encounters many people who were either mute spectators or perpetrators in this human tragedy that was partition. It is in Jalandhar that the author discovered the horrors of this time and you feel his pain and the reason behind trying to piece together a history that is now almost forgotten. Unclaimed houses were taken over by the caretakers who were supposed to look after them with the hope that the original owners will one day return. Government officials took advantage of those who they were supposed to protect. It was a time when humans became monsters and killed, burned, raped and destroyed property in the name of religion. One thing that is noteworthy is the constant parallels that the author draws between India and Pakistan and laments the decline of a country that so many people lost their lives for. There are many questions that the book raises but the most important one was that was this partition necessary.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Puja

    Blurb : During the chaos of partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. A time of madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to Blurb : During the chaos of partition in 1947, something dreadful happened in the city of Jalandhar in Punjab. As a result of this, Salman Rashid’s family fled Jalandhar for Pakistan, the newly created country across the border. They were among the nearly two million people uprooted from their homes in the greatest transmigration in history. A time of madness tells the story of what he discovered with great poignancy and grace. It is a tale of unspeakable brutality but it is also a testament to the uniquely human traits of forgiveness, redemption and the resilience of the human spirit. A well known travel writer, Salman Rashid, takes his much awaited ‘first’ trip to India, the country of his origin, in the bid to visit his ancestral home and meet people (if still alive) of whom he heard so much about, back home in Karachi. After several failed attempts at getting a Visa, when he finally got one, he finally takes off his journey with a ‘grainy photograph of a house on Railway Road in Jalandhar’. He described it thus. “On the twentieth day of March 2008, I headed home for the first time in my life. I was fifty-six years and a month old. Walking east across the border at Wagah, I was on my way to the fulfilment of a family pietas of very long standing. I was going to a home I had never known; a home in a foreign land, a land that state propaganda wanted me to believe was enemy territory. But I knew it as a country where my ancestors had lived and died over countless generations. That was the home where the hearth kept the warmth of a fire first kindled by a matriarch many hundred years ago, nay, a few thousand years ago and which all of a sudden had been extinguished in a cataclysm in 1947.” At 127 pages, it is a short read but one that makes you stop and process the amount of pain, grief and anger running through the lives of people across both sides of the Radcliffe line (that divides India and Pakistan). Read the full review here - https://speakometer.wordpress.com/201...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ubah Khasimuddin

    Interesting book, definitely for those of us who want a more deep dive of life during the partition - if you are not familiar with that time period and the going-on's, this book will not be an easy read. The author assumes you have some basic knowledge, also keeping up with all the characters, who have similar sounding names, is confusing. I did like that it is written as he goes on his journey, almost a stream of consciousness. Though there are times when that becomes VERY confusing, you can't Interesting book, definitely for those of us who want a more deep dive of life during the partition - if you are not familiar with that time period and the going-on's, this book will not be an easy read. The author assumes you have some basic knowledge, also keeping up with all the characters, who have similar sounding names, is confusing. I did like that it is written as he goes on his journey, almost a stream of consciousness. Though there are times when that becomes VERY confusing, you can't remember where he is going and what he is going for. Also a family tree diagram and pictures certainly would have been helpful. What was fascinating was reading a story about that time, one that did not end well, but that was truthful. So many of the stories of that period have been left buried and as the survivors begin to die, this was a valuable one. And the author does not pull any punches, though his family was brutally murdered, he admits that relations between the religious communities had started to become strained and how even his grandfather had begun to buy into the Pakistan and Muslim league hype. My favorite part of the book was that the author, a Pakistani, is critical of his country and i thought his insights were spot on, especially the one pet peeve of mine, changing the cultural good bye of Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz. I think this is a good book for people already familiar with this issue or students learning about India/Pakistan. Would be great for a college course on India and Pakistan - a nice way for students who are reading tons of boring tombs, for something more fulfilling.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Reena

    An incredible memoir by a incredibly honest - if a little (understandably) angry - man. Salman Rashid - NOT to be confused with Rushdie - comes from a family in Lahore, Pakistan who were displaced and suffered greatly in the violent aftermath of the 1947 Partition of India. His grandfather, grandmother along with their children were born and lived in Jalandhar, Punjab (now in India) and were all murdered during the upheaval of Partition. Somehow the author's father escapes this fate, and subsequ An incredible memoir by a incredibly honest - if a little (understandably) angry - man. Salman Rashid - NOT to be confused with Rushdie - comes from a family in Lahore, Pakistan who were displaced and suffered greatly in the violent aftermath of the 1947 Partition of India. His grandfather, grandmother along with their children were born and lived in Jalandhar, Punjab (now in India) and were all murdered during the upheaval of Partition. Somehow the author's father escapes this fate, and subsequently moves to Lahore (in Pakistan). Despite the grief this sordid history is not talked about in the family as the author is growing up in Lahore. In 2008 the author travels to India to uncover what happened to his grandfather, who by all accounts, was considered a respected and much loved doctor in Jalandhar. This book is an account of that journey. What Rashid finds and relates in this book is remarkable and even more remarkable is the peace and forgiveness he is able to find in his own heart and among many whose family members participated in the violence and lived to regret their heinous acts. It is the kind of "truth and reconciliation" one can only dream of, and yet is the ONLY kind that can bring lasting peace to that region. As a grandchild of Partition I was very moved by this memoir and applaud Rashid's honest and merciless telling. I was also amused by the anger and criticism he heaps on Pakistan, often comparing it rather unfavorably to arch enemy India. I cannot tell how much of the comparison is valid - having never been to Pakistan - but I know he must face a lot of anger for making such claims. Because both India and Pakistan can stand unfavorable comparisons to almost any part of the world, but never to each other. When blood brothers fight, it is the deepest kind of wound for which often there is no forgiveness, nor reconciliation possible. I dream of peace in that region but I know it won't happen in my lifetime. But I thank people like Rashid for the islands of peace and forgiveness they create in oceans of madness, against all odds.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diptarup Ghosh Dastidar

    When I started reading this book, I felt like it would just be about the experiences of a Pakistani traveller trying to find his roots in pre-partition India. The beginning is interesting in the way that the author points out certain striking differences in the outlook of Indians and Pakistanis about regular life and people, for instance how men look at girls or how late or punctual the trains are in the two countries. After creating a light mood, he talks about his ancestry and about his visit When I started reading this book, I felt like it would just be about the experiences of a Pakistani traveller trying to find his roots in pre-partition India. The beginning is interesting in the way that the author points out certain striking differences in the outlook of Indians and Pakistanis about regular life and people, for instance how men look at girls or how late or punctual the trains are in the two countries. After creating a light mood, he talks about his ancestry and about his visit to India. The narrative starts getting interesting towards the end, especially from Chapter 5 all the way to 7, the last chapter. This is where he comes to know about certain events which shaped the fate that his family met with and its very shocking, although Rashid has narrated the incidents as coolly as he could have. There is a sense of cool detachment throughout the narrative that keeps the reader at bay from the shock of the event itself. It seems as if the sanity of the author creates a divide between the reader and the event itself. However, it is the sarcasm and dry humour that I liked most about this book. Towards the end, when he points out the current situation in Pakistan, it is very informative and exciting to read. I would suggest the last two chapters to anyone who would like to get the best out of the book. The ending is the best thing that this book has, at least in my view.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Mishra

    This is my personal view about the book. The author sees his family members, even departed ones, as a source of truth. They can never be wrong for him. Even at one place when the author discovers that his grandfather was communalised and wanted to sacrifice a cow in Jalandhar out in open, he defends him by moving the blame to the local and national leaders. I find it very strange that a doctor's mind is brainwashed and all the blame is of some leaders. No, the person cannot be absolved of the res This is my personal view about the book. The author sees his family members, even departed ones, as a source of truth. They can never be wrong for him. Even at one place when the author discovers that his grandfather was communalised and wanted to sacrifice a cow in Jalandhar out in open, he defends him by moving the blame to the local and national leaders. I find it very strange that a doctor's mind is brainwashed and all the blame is of some leaders. No, the person cannot be absolved of the responsibility for communalisation. The last chapter was but a memoir. It's a sort of quick distorted lesson of history. If someone is reading this book or planning to read it, skip the last chapter. It's better to take lessons on history from a respected historian than from a person who is writing a memoir in a biased way. The author not only blames people but everyone in Pakistan. All its leaders starting from Mohammad Ali Jinnah. When I was reading this book, I felt that the author is just using the means of the book to blame for all Pakistani problems to the leaders of the nation and not talking about any problems which could be from bottom up. Had the book been just a memoir, I would have rated it a five. But the book jumps the boundary of a memoir and enters the history. So, 2 stars to it

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chitra Ahanthem

    I had picked this book as writings touching on historical events fascinate me. At 127 pages, it is a short read but one that makes you stop and process the amount of pain, grief and anger running through the lives of people across both sides of the Radcliffe line (that divides India and Pakistan). A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition by Salman Rashid starts with the author describing how he felt at home in a ‘foreign land’ India when he visited the country for the first time and reflecting o I had picked this book as writings touching on historical events fascinate me. At 127 pages, it is a short read but one that makes you stop and process the amount of pain, grief and anger running through the lives of people across both sides of the Radcliffe line (that divides India and Pakistan). A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition by Salman Rashid starts with the author describing how he felt at home in a ‘foreign land’ India when he visited the country for the first time and reflecting on the stoic silence and suppressed grief that his family faced due to the Partition after losing not just their home but family members as well. Since this book was in my area of interest, I liked it but I would be cautious of saying that every other reader will find it engaging. It felt more like a political and socio cultural commentary rather than a memoir and a rather short one at that. Also, the use of uncommon and complicated words was a bit jarring. Thankfully, there were only a few such words. It would also have been interesting if the author note were put on the book jacket as I felt a bit clueless trying to work out the background of the author.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nallasivan V.

    It is not much a memoir. Salman Rashid was born after partition and doesn't have any direct experience of the same. His family moved from Jalandhar to Lahore during the months after partition - Rashid tries to trace back to his roots in Jalandhar in 2008 when he manages to get a Visa to India. What follows is an obsessive trial across Indian Punjab to uncover what happened to his grandparents and his parents' siblings. It's in these parts that the book is most revealing - both of the horrors of It is not much a memoir. Salman Rashid was born after partition and doesn't have any direct experience of the same. His family moved from Jalandhar to Lahore during the months after partition - Rashid tries to trace back to his roots in Jalandhar in 2008 when he manages to get a Visa to India. What follows is an obsessive trial across Indian Punjab to uncover what happened to his grandparents and his parents' siblings. It's in these parts that the book is most revealing - both of the horrors of partition and its aftermath (all the way up to 2008). But Rashid gets distracted. The present-day problems of Pakistan haunts him. The flawed idea of partition seems to him as the starting point of all that was wrong with Pakistan over the seven decades. There are a lot of poignant partition stories to unravel, but he keeps sliding back to the current day Pakistan - comparing it with India and rueing the political and economic decline of his own country. It leaves with a few unanswered questions and few loose ends in the partition narrative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Radhika Saimbi

    A Time of Madness by Salman Rashid Partition!! One word and so many emotions. Partition!! One incident and so many stories. So many were murdered, so many were displaced and so many were scarred for their lifetimes. Born 4 years after partition, in Pakistan, Salman Rashid travels India in quest of discovering his ancestral roots from Jalandhar, Punjab. With a slow start, the book soon catches its speed when Salman visits India, where he meets numerous people and each one had their own partition sto A Time of Madness by Salman Rashid Partition!! One word and so many emotions. Partition!! One incident and so many stories. So many were murdered, so many were displaced and so many were scarred for their lifetimes. Born 4 years after partition, in Pakistan, Salman Rashid travels India in quest of discovering his ancestral roots from Jalandhar, Punjab. With a slow start, the book soon catches its speed when Salman visits India, where he meets numerous people and each one had their own partition story. He explores his roots and tries to understand the political and religious scenario which might have led to the massacre affecting both sides of the country. Book is about 126 pages, where the author has compared India and Pakistan several times, and while reading I just kept thanking my predecessors for choosing India to live. Very well written, Salman has touched all the right strings of my heart. He has also critically analysed about his own country's history both political and economical. All in all it is a good book, with so much of information about our neighbouring country.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Riaz Ujjan

    Wounds inflicted on the body heal quickly, but wounds inflicted on the soul do not heal throughout life. Humans try to escape from the terrible events of the past, but sometimes something happens that brings back those memories. In this Salman Rashid has narrated the story of his family which was living happily in Jalandhar, but the partition of India not only displaced them from their ancestral homes, but many members perished to the communal riots. To see the ancestral home and feel the oresenc Wounds inflicted on the body heal quickly, but wounds inflicted on the soul do not heal throughout life. Humans try to escape from the terrible events of the past, but sometimes something happens that brings back those memories. In this Salman Rashid has narrated the story of his family which was living happily in Jalandhar, but the partition of India not only displaced them from their ancestral homes, but many members perished to the communal riots. To see the ancestral home and feel the oresence of ancestirs, Salman Rashid travels to India where he tries to find out the homes and other places where he can trace the signs of the presence his fathers and fore fathers. The stories of different incidents and happening including to his family has been described in this book. Salman has a very sharo eye and what other things he has observed duringbthe visit has been written in the book. Even how trees are cared for in Indiq, how the young girls riam freely on bikes in western clothes without being ogled. Un short, this book actually contains a painful story of partition of India.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sanat Singh

    More than a memoir and Travelogue More than a memoir and a travelogue, ..... this book is also a reflection on how the fledgling states of Independent India and Pakistan fared in a quarter of a century of self rule(or misrule). The comparisons drawn by the author on the state of affairs in the two countries are surprisingly candid and in general mostly favorable to India(the enemy state for the author's countrymen). The gruesome and gory details of mob frenzy during days of partition has been cove More than a memoir and Travelogue More than a memoir and a travelogue, ..... this book is also a reflection on how the fledgling states of Independent India and Pakistan fared in a quarter of a century of self rule(or misrule). The comparisons drawn by the author on the state of affairs in the two countries are surprisingly candid and in general mostly favorable to India(the enemy state for the author's countrymen). The gruesome and gory details of mob frenzy during days of partition has been covered in many books, both Fiction and non Fiction, but this book also gives a fair insight into the psyche of the ruling elite of Pakistan both military and otherwise. Also the psyche of the people of Pakistan at large. Its heartening to note that a book so openly critical of Pakistan's rulers has been published .... albeit by an Indian Publisher seems to indicate the growing tolerance of the Pakistani state towards dissent ..

  25. 4 out of 5

    Naveen

    Book 5: Salman Rashid’s A time of madness , is a short 127 page story about authors ancestral home in jalandhar and his return to the place where his family was killed in the mayhem of partition. It gives a balance perspective on the horrors unleashed by men of all religions. What intrigued me was that author was very critical of pakistan and went on to describe things which we find in India too but albeit on small scale. Its hard to imagine , to live in Lahore and write such critical piece of t Book 5: Salman Rashid’s A time of madness , is a short 127 page story about authors ancestral home in jalandhar and his return to the place where his family was killed in the mayhem of partition. It gives a balance perspective on the horrors unleashed by men of all religions. What intrigued me was that author was very critical of pakistan and went on to describe things which we find in India too but albeit on small scale. Its hard to imagine , to live in Lahore and write such critical piece of the country itself. Last few pages after author has narrated his pilgrimage to ancestral home are about the failings of pakistan as a state and culture , as he says in Pakistan “Persian khuda was replaced by Arabic Allah” in a bid to become Arab-ized. Definitely a quick and worthy read about partition without traveling on horrors in details but more humane side of it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anil Swarup

    A number of books have been written on the devastation caused by the partition of the sub-continent. This one is right up there with the best of them in terms content and racy narration as it highlights the tragedy and the devastation partition caused. The author also intermittently compares the state of affairs in India and Pakistan and laments how the latter has missed out on what has been achieved in the former country. He comes up with a telling conclusion in this regard, "It is as if Pakist A number of books have been written on the devastation caused by the partition of the sub-continent. This one is right up there with the best of them in terms content and racy narration as it highlights the tragedy and the devastation partition caused. The author also intermittently compares the state of affairs in India and Pakistan and laments how the latter has missed out on what has been achieved in the former country. He comes up with a telling conclusion in this regard, "It is as if Pakistan is under enemy occupation and its people bent upon causing as much damage to the occupiers as is within their power". Salman is realistic as he did not "let memory turn grief into hatred". And, finally there are some philosophical conclusions as well: "Evil is learned swiftly; goodness takes generation to become part of one's consciousness". How true! Book worth a read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shiven Jain

    Yes, this only 126-or-something-paged book took me more than two weeks to read. Just minutes after finishing it, I’m yet trying to digest all that I’ve just read. The book was slow pace and it was heading for a 3/5, maybe even 2/5 until I came to the fifth chapter. The title is misleading because many people might think that it’s set during the partition - but no, it’s the story of a travel writer (yes) remembering the so called “Time of Madness”. If I say anything more than just - “this book wa Yes, this only 126-or-something-paged book took me more than two weeks to read. Just minutes after finishing it, I’m yet trying to digest all that I’ve just read. The book was slow pace and it was heading for a 3/5, maybe even 2/5 until I came to the fifth chapter. The title is misleading because many people might think that it’s set during the partition - but no, it’s the story of a travel writer (yes) remembering the so called “Time of Madness”. If I say anything more than just - “this book was a roller coaster ride after the fourth chapter and it was heart-moving and breaking” I would be spoiling it for you. All I can say is that Salman Rashid’s book is worth the read - even if you have to tolerate the dreariest parts of it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarthak Dev

    The book is well written. All personal memoirs, especially if narrated well, are great windows into someone else's life. To that extent, I enjoyed the stories. My only gripe is that after about 75%, the book tapers off. The author seems to run out of anecdotes and drifts over to the alley of Indo-Pak political history. He tiptoes around those bits, thus not doing justice to something as complex as the subject of his book. Also, the theme of "Pakistan is so much worse than India" that lasts from h The book is well written. All personal memoirs, especially if narrated well, are great windows into someone else's life. To that extent, I enjoyed the stories. My only gripe is that after about 75%, the book tapers off. The author seems to run out of anecdotes and drifts over to the alley of Indo-Pak political history. He tiptoes around those bits, thus not doing justice to something as complex as the subject of his book. Also, the theme of "Pakistan is so much worse than India" that lasts from his first visit gets a bit monotonous by the time he comes to talking about the post-Jinnah era. That said, I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in reading personal stories from the Partition.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rajiv Chopra

    Salman has written a largely excellent account of his journey to India to see the home of his ancestors in Jallandhar. While doing so, he meets with Indians who show him a lot of hospitality, and some of them apologize for the excesses of the Partition. In some ways, this is how it should be. It was a time of madness, and the realization that we were pawns in the hands of politicians came too late. This is a book of the heart, and i recommend that people read the book. If there is one gripe I ha Salman has written a largely excellent account of his journey to India to see the home of his ancestors in Jallandhar. While doing so, he meets with Indians who show him a lot of hospitality, and some of them apologize for the excesses of the Partition. In some ways, this is how it should be. It was a time of madness, and the realization that we were pawns in the hands of politicians came too late. This is a book of the heart, and i recommend that people read the book. If there is one gripe I have, it is this - that he glorifies India too much and denigrates Pakistan too much. Both countries have positive and negative points about them. I wish he had focussed on this. Was he trying too hard to please an Indian audience? I don't know.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Acharyya

    It's and interesting tale of a person trying to find about his home and family. Being a travel writer, the book is written very well. Even though it goes off course at times but it still well packed. Dwelling on the history of both the countries(India and Pakistan). The writer packs a scathing critique of Pakistan, and its leaders for the way it has turn out to be. Questioning everyone from Jinnah to General Zia ul Haq (a fellow Jalandhari). On the other hand his portrayal of India becomes at ti It's and interesting tale of a person trying to find about his home and family. Being a travel writer, the book is written very well. Even though it goes off course at times but it still well packed. Dwelling on the history of both the countries(India and Pakistan). The writer packs a scathing critique of Pakistan, and its leaders for the way it has turn out to be. Questioning everyone from Jinnah to General Zia ul Haq (a fellow Jalandhari). On the other hand his portrayal of India becomes at time too romantic and superficial. It is definitely a good read for any one interested in Partition stories. It is definitely something which can be made into a good documentary.

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