Book review – Preparing The Grounds
Reviewed By Asif Farrukhi
Before the British Empire moved in to pluck Sindh like the low-hanging fruit it had become, there were a number of travellers who acted as advance-guards to serve the purpose of the rapidly advancing empire.
Edward Paterson Del Hoste was one such traveller but he still retains a sense of mystery. We can only speculate if his correct name was Delhoste, or perhaps even De L’Hoste. The name may be mysterious; however, one thing about him is very clear: he was not one for mincing his words.
Regarding the government in Sindh he said: ‘I am doubtful if the manner in which Sinde is ruled deserves the name of a government’. Hard-hitting and strangely apt, it is only the quaint spelling of Sindh which makes you suspect that this is not from today’s newspaper or some present day politician’s speech. Has Sindh really changed substantially from the days of the Amirs and the subsequent colonisation? Due to their astute observation and sharp, if somewhat biased analysis, these travellers pose a challenge for Sindh which still interests many.
It is not only the government with which Del Hoste found fault in the report he prepared based on his 1832 visit. His sharp observations can also be read as a list of faults. He finds the climate ‘intolerable’ and the insect-infested violent winds likely to cause death among men and beasts.