I love to read about history – World, Indian, Asian, Political, Economical – you name it. I love to know how people used to live before the modern inventions – before the mass transport systems – before television – before modern postal systems. How did they live? What did they eat? How did they dress? What did they do for entertainment?
Many among us have the wrong notion that all history is about dates – which war had been fought when? And many of us question – why do we need to understand history – it is past – what relevance does it have for the future?
My answer is – history is not only about dates. History is more than that. History traces the path of evolution – not the biological one but the social economical and political. Consider this – there are many old temples in south india built by kings. Did you notice that the grandeur of the temple architecture – the height of the dome, the size of the temple – all of them relate to the period during which they were built. They relate to the power and hold of the king when the temple was built.
If you look at the trade and political history – you can look at the changes that were brought by trade of tea, sugar, opium, cotton. How the trade in these items changed the political structure of the world. Closer home, all of us remember that it was trade that brought the British, the dutch, the french to our shores first.
Then at the kitchen table, how different ingredients were introduced which shaped our cuisine. South Indian and especially Andhra cuisine is famous for Chillies. But then when we know that chillies are not really local and that they were introduced only a few centuries ago – it is not amazing. Something that characterizes the cuisine is not from that place. Potatoes which are the most eaten vegetable world over has a fascinating story of its own.
Yes – there is a lot more to history than dates. Look at it differently, analyze it and you can find interconnections which makes it really interesting.