More than a century ago, the British author and poet, Rudyard Kipling, wrote that East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. But Kipling got it wrong. A century before he wrote those words, and well before British rule in India became a caricature of stiff upper lips and priggish superiority, English military officers posted in India donned native garb, got hooked on the hookah, and married local women.
One British official paraded all 13 of his wives in public every night, each on the back of her own elephant. And for one Englishman in particular, India was the hothouse where his own tale of love, seduction, and betrayal bloomed. Reconstructing that story, and revisiting a long forgotten era with the author William Dalrymple.
William Dalrymple, author, “White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India”