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    Bringing his Ocean of Cobras to Pondicherry, Murad Ali Baig talks fact and fiction

    HISTORY buffs won’t be the only ones gathered at the Palais de Mahe next week to listen to journalist and writer Murad Ali Baig present his new book. After all, Baig has a following for his articles on cars, travel, mythology and religion and his Ocean of Cobras promises to be packed with intrigue, action and enough history to infuse blood and flesh into dry names (a feat a history professer introduced him to in college). ‘‘The story is about Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son, and how he would have become the emperor had Aurangzeb, the youngest son, not eliminated him,’’ begins Baig. This is a story with a huge sweep of battles, from the Narmada to Ganga. ‘‘Mughal scribes created a gap in Indian history,’’ he continues, for while they wrote about the great emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, ‘‘they forgot Dara after the battle of Samugarh.’’ Baig says the battle of succession between Shah Jahan’s sons was one of the turning points in our history. Dara, a poet and philosopher, loved all religions, unlike his battle-hardened brother. That said, Baig has made an attempt not to paint a good guy-bad guy picture in this book that is a recount by a eunuch, who has access to the royal palace. The book launch is by People for Pondicherry Heritage. On September 14 at the Palais de Mahe in Pondicherry at 6 pm and on September 16 at the Folly in Amethyst in Chennai. Tara Press, Rs 325. Details: 0413 2345611

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