From a roiling India of the 40s and rollicking France of the 60s to a fear-stricken US post 9/11 terror attacks, ‘Memoirs of Three Continents: I Tell You Nothing But The Truth’, takes you on a gripping roller-coaster ride of various cultures and author Mirza Saeed-Uz Zafar Chagthai’s own journey of self-discovery.
Born in a middle class Indian Muslim family in the small town of Daryabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, Chagthai, earned a string of scholarships and went to Europe for higher studies after topping at his university.
Over the past few years, he has authored many books, but the latest one is easily at the top of the heaps. Laced with anecdotal vignettes from his professional experiences as a scientist and globe-trotting scholar, the memoirs give fascinating insights into scientific and literary life in India, Europe and the US that inform and amuse in equal measure.
But, what makes the book such an absorbing read is Chaghtai’s self deprecating humour and guileless candour.
One chapter deals with the evolution of the French Fifth Republic and a detailed eyewitness account of the 1968 Revolutionary while another dwells on the idiosyncrasies and insecurities of scientists, including some Nobel Laureates.
Then there is this whole section that gives a hitherto unknown perspective on Aligarh where Chaghtai spent 40 years of his life.
Whether you are a history buff or just someone keen to learn about people and places, especially India and Europe through the turn of the century, you will be thoroughly enjoy Memoirs of Three Continents.