Until this very point in my life I had absolutely no clue who Nicolò Manucci was. Let me introduce him to you in case this is a first for you too.
He was a 14 year old who left his home, in Venice with ‘a passionate desire to see the world’. He was a teenage boy who had no idea of the magnificent life he was about to have on his one way ticket to India.
Manucci is often referred to as the diplomat doctor, but long before attaining such a status for himself, he started out as an artillery man, then a physician & finally one could say a diplomat. His capacity to adapt into various diplomatic roles – translation, mediation & even negotiation – came from his willingness to observe & learn from a very young age.
The book is a fine piece of work, although it is non-fiction it easily flows like any fictional story for which I’d like to commend the author as well as the translator.
The book’s divided into two parts: the first part covering Manucci’s life while serving various Mughal prince’s & the second part talks of his life after settling down in Madras and Pondicherry.
The author has brilliantly presented his observation about Manucci without being biased. I liked that he helps the reader get a better understanding of Manucci’s personality by referencing many passages from his book Storia do Mogor – which is an account of his experiences in the Mughal Empire.
Through this book one doesn’t only JUST read about Manucci but one also learns a tremendously of Hindustan’s rich culture, one learns in detail of the time when Aurangzeb was the emperor, one learns the point of view of Europeans.
Manucci while trying to find and maintain an identity for himself was also the man who understood the Indian culture. This helped him get opportunities which would’ve been unattainable for any illiterate teenager, he was in the middle of history & sometimes even responsible for it.
Nicolò Manucci didn’t settle for mere survival, but determinedly emerged from the masses.
I’d also like to thank Penguin India and Vivek Tejuja for sending across a review copy of the book.