An Evening with the 1947 Partition Archive

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Got my serious face on!

The 1947 Partition Archive (the Archive) documents, preserves and shares personal stories of Partition survivors. I have been associated with the Archive since January 2017 (read more on that here). I qualified to be a Citizen Historian after attending a two-hour long webinar, organized by the Archive. Though I’ve only collected my grandfather’s interview, the group is close to my heart.

Recently, a Delhi City Meet-Up was organized by the Oral History Program Team of the Archive. We were invited on a Friday evening to Root’d café at Gulmohar Park, Hauz Khas, Delhi. I was curious to meet other interviewers and learn about their experiences. We were a group of 12-13 people and had the entire café to ourselves. This allowed us to have heated, slightly controversial discussions. People of all age groups were represented, and each offered a unique perspective.

TULK7716Riveting discussion

Interviewing partition survivors transports you to their time in a way books and movies can’t. As interviewers, we had all been part of someone’s most personal and perhaps most traumatic memories. Despite the similarities, each experience was distinct. Many people had interviewed scores of survivors and noted that each story was conveyed differently.

One young college student had collected a record number of interviews, by approaching his friends’ grandparents. A couple of story scholars had dedicated months to collecting stories. One girl had moved to India to connect with her family’s past; and one to pursue a Ph.D in this subject she is so passionate about. A young boy from Meerut, who writes his own blog (check him out here), recounted stories of physically being kicked out of homes.


Raghav Sagar- Story Scholar’s Program Manager, Delhi

The theme of preserving family stories was quite common. As our parents and grandparents age, it is vital that we record their stories. This was the primary reason I joined the Archive, as many members of my extended family had migrated to Delhi from Pakistan.

Raghav Sagar (Story Scholars Program Manager in Delhi) and Ira Pundir (Copy Editor) represented the core team of the Archive, at the meet-up. They ensured the conversation flowed easily and never got out of hand. The event was low-fuss and well organized. The café also deserves a mention here. It’s completely vegetarian and quite kitschy, with the model of a tree right in the center. We were encouraged to order and pay our own way, but half way through the meet-up, the café staff very kindly served us three 3 Dip Platters (baked pita, feta cheese, hummus, tzatziki and guacamole), on the house. I will definitely return soon for an in-depth review.


The 3 dip platter at Root’d Cafe

To commemorate 70 years of the partition, the Archive organized different exhibits over the last few months. In my opinion, these exhibits should be made permanent. These stories must be preserved so that future generations learn what actually happened; not only what’s written in history textbooks. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past to ensure a happier and safer future for our children.

If you’d like to get involved and interview people for stories, contact the Archive here.

Event rating: 4.5/5


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