I hated history as a subject in school. My dad was a history teacher. Every other day I used to ask him, “Some idiot came to India, the idiot ruled over India and that idiot finally died; Now why am I like an idiot reading about that idiot.” To that my father used to reply, “So that you don’t make the same idiotic mistakes he did.”
That argument never convinced me. I mean, studying an extremely boring subject, scattered with names and dates was a pain in the coccyx. I am sure if I went back in time and told the 12 year old me that I would one day become a history-buff, he would have laughed at me (okay, that was weird).
I started to like history as I started traveling. My dad made it a point to take me around to historical places. I went to Agra fort, where the Emperor-of-the-world, Shahjahan was kept in captivity. It thrilled me knowing that I was in the very spot where the great Mughal had spent his last days staring at the Taj and dreaming about the love of his life. At the Bada Imambara in Lucknow, I imagined enemies getting lost in the many turns of the bhool-bhulaiya while the rulers escaped to their freedom. At Allahabad I saw the spot where Chandrashekar Azad used up the last bullet in his gun to kill himself. It was no longer just a portion from my history book. I was there, at the very place where it all happened. It was like reading a fairy tale and suddenly finding yourself in that world.
After a while, I started going to historical places and exploring them myself. I went around military-forts, trying to imagine battles and sieges around it. I imagined the looks of stern-faced archers cowering behind the ramparts. Siege engines and battering rams, ramming down the gates. In palaces, I imagined kings and queens walking around in splendor, ministers whispering their suggestions in the counsel chamber, dancing girls performing in the great hall. History was no longer a boring subject filled with facts and dates. It became an interesting story. Story of real people who lived. Fact turned out to be as enthralling as fiction.
I also realized that my dad was right. History did teach me stuff. I learnt that strong walls and a massive armies don’t make a great empire. I noticed that whenever some ruler in history focused on self-preservation instead of welfare of his subjects, his kingdom collapsed. This is something I hope our present bunch of politicians learn.
As I started loving history, I hated the Indian educational system for making it so boring. Such an interesting subject is turned into dates and details which students have to mug up. That is not how history is to be taught. History has to lived. One has to dive into it and relish it.
This is my attempt at sharing what I have learnt with you. I will focus on the history and tales of places and kings less known. Please do comment and give your feed back.