The Jungle Prince
November 22, 2019 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Interesting piece on the death of a former prince living mysteriously in Delhi from the BBC There is a much longer-form version at the New York Times. The BBC link has great photos, and I know folks don’t like the Times’ paywall, but if you have a freebie this would be a good use of it.

As an American that knows little of Indian and Pakistani history, I can’t comment on the accuracy of details, but it’s really just about an interesting family. If the mods can think of better keywords, please feel free.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur (16 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
This story is definitely going to get optioned. White male lead journalist, stubborn old eccentric as a symbol of colonial / royal decay, opportunities for flashbacks. Hollywood is already on the phone.
posted by Think_Long at 9:04 AM on November 22, 2019

White male lead journalist

The byline on the full NY Times article - a truly amazing story - is Ellen Barry.

If there are tags that indicate "this story is beautifully written", they should be added.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 9:23 AM on November 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

It's the ten years living in the waiting room of a train station that just floors me. Like, how?? No privacy, ever? Out in public, even with your dogs and servants? (where did those even come from...?)

I would totally watch a movie of this, yes.
posted by dnash at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

This article made me late for work this morning. Its subject was compelling but the narrative was what really sucked me in.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:43 AM on November 22, 2019 mirror of the NYT article, for increased access.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

If you're keen to know more about what the British called Oudh, then search for the original name Awadh

Shatranj ke Khiladi is a famous movie about this princely state - by Satyajit Ray
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

"Oudh" reminds me of the apocryphal, punny telegrams: British General Sir Charles Napier, after annexing Sindh, sent home a one word telegram, "Peccavi", (Latin for "I have sinned" ~ "I have Sindh). And, Lord Dalhousie upon annexing Oudh sent a one word telegram, 'Vovi', (Latin for'I have vowed' ~ 'Oudh'). offers a more likely explanation.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by techSupp0rt at 12:03 PM on November 22, 2019 [8 favorites]

Great piece, thank you.
posted by mwhybark at 12:07 PM on November 22, 2019

I grew up in Delhi, and all the kids knew about the crazy old Begum who lived in the first-class waiting room at the railway station with her servants and dogs. I had no idea they'd been moved to the Ridge.

Fascinating (and a little sad). Thanks!
posted by phliar at 1:10 PM on November 22, 2019 [13 favorites]

"He was plain old Mickey Butt."
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:32 PM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm Indian and I've visited Delhi several times and I'd never heard or read about this family. The NYT article was such a good read! I'm off to find out more. Thank you for sharing.
posted by Nieshka at 1:17 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

For those who have read the NYT article, I recommend the classic short story about Partition by Saadat Hasan Manto, Toba Tek Singh.
posted by tavegyl at 4:04 AM on November 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’ve read a lot about partition (and there’s a lot of great literature out there about it), but wow what a story. I’d never heard about the Queen in the railway station, but what a way to understand a political tragedy by making it personal and understanding the after effects.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:34 AM on November 24, 2019

I think it’s Shame by Salman Rushdie that this is reminding me of. The crumbling reminders of a flawed past elegance and order, the deep psychic wounds of societal division...I know there are other stories about the fall of aristocratic families of Lucknow in the wake of partition.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:41 AM on November 24, 2019

I want to hear this tale from the viewpoint of one of the servants. I mean, adult kids getting dragged along in their mother's drama, that happens a lot. But how did anyone become one of these servants? And where did they evaporate to, between the railway station years and the death of the last family member?
posted by elizilla at 10:53 AM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

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