Aline Dobbie gave an interview on her arrival in Delhi in early July.
By Syeda Eba
Tourists across the globe have been irresistibly attracted to the incred ible beauty of India - foggy hill stations, historical monuments, alluring beaches, shimmering deserts, and rich wildlife. But Aline Dobbie believes, India is much more than its scenic beauty. It is a potpourri of cultures.
“One needs to look beneath the sur- face and explore how astonishing this country is,” she says.
“What makes India different from other tourist destinations is its ‘antiquity’. This was the birthplace for early engineering, early science, early medicine. It has its art, culture, and archaeology. I can’t deny that there is, and will always be a section of people which wants to relax on the beach, have a good time in the country and leave. But those willing to see India beyond the superficial aesthetic will have a lot to explore.”
Besides the culture, it’s India’s rich history that fascinates Dobbie. She feels, Ashoka, Guptas, Mauryans, Cholas, and their contribution to India’s rich history are often ignored in comparison to Mughals.
Expressing dissent at people’s obses- sion with ‘Mughals’, Dobbie says, “Everybody knows about the Mughals, and they go on and on talking about Mughal rule.” “I don’t see a harm in discussing them but for once can we just get past the Mughal rule and give due importance to pre-European, and pre-Islamic empires?” questions Dobbie.
Though she keeps visiting the country for work, this time Dobbie decided to have a vacation with family – husband, children, and grandchildren, and show them the ‘real India’. “I come from a family of people who helped govern India. One of my ancestors was Commander in chief, my Grandfather was distinguished with Lawrence of Arabia in Mesopotamia, and Great grandfather was a General. I spent the first 16 years of my life in India, where I grew up speaking Hindi and Urdu. I have a very close connection with India and so I keep telling my children and grandchildren about this fabulous country, its legends who contributed to making India what it is, much more. This year I thought of taking them to all the places they have heard about,” Dobbie told Millennium Post, during her stay at The Imperial, New Delhi.
Her journey as a writer started when after 35 years, Dobbie came back to India in 1997 with her husband. People in her inner circle suggested her to write a book on her personal experiences.
“I went ahead with the idea and wrote my first book ‘India: The Peacock’s call’ in less than three months. It was about my return to India - almost like a pilgrimage. I talked about the dif- ference I observed and history. People found it very fascinating, and I got good reviews for the same,” says the travel enthusiast, who is a historian as well.
She was recently felicitated with ‘Art and Culture Award’ from The Indian Awards 2019 by the India Business Group, for outstanding contribution towards promoting goodwill between India and the UK, and for being an ambassador of Indian tourism.
Concluding the conversation, she highlights how the impact of westernisation on India might obstruct the growth of Indian tourism - which otherwise she feels is flourishing. “Despite the influence of western culture, India’s tourism potential is phenomenal at the moment. This is because of the diversity - you have got Heritage, Archaeology, Ayurveda, Spirituality, Wildlife. We cannot ignore the westernisation, but I do hope that India doesn’t lose its values,” concludes Dobbie.