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Saeeda Bano was the first woman in India to work as a radio newsreader, and she is still known as the doyenne of Urdu broadcasting. Over her unconventional and courageous life, Bano walked out of a suffocating marriage, witnessed the violence of Partition, lost her son for a night in a refugee camp, ate toast with Nehru, and fell in love with a married man who would, in the course of their twenty-five year-relationship, become the Mayor of Delhi. Though she was born into privilege in Bhopal—the only Indian state to be ruled by women for four successive generations—her determination, independence, and frankness provide a unique and crucial disruption in India’s understanding of the past.
Translated from Urdu by Bano’s granddaughter, Off the Beaten Track is a frank and brave memoir about the remarkable life of a single woman in mid-twentieth-century India.
“Generously studded with jewel-bright Urdu and Farsi verses, ably translated by the author’s granddaughter Shahana Raza, the narrative retains the flavour of its Urdu original. It reminds us of a time when even those with little formal education had a wide frame of literary references and a world view that was eclectic and liberal.“ — India Today
“But, what makes this memoir an important one, is also her professional strides at AIR. When AIR launched its Urdu service, she began taking on more programming work, leading a Women and Children’s show, analysing news, broadcasting short bulletins, and also producing a five-minute show called Dekhi-Suni. In her memoir, she writes about this very matter-of-factly.“ — Midday
SAEEDA BANO is the first woman in India to work as a radio newsreader.
SHAHANA RAZA is Saeeda Bano’s grand-daughter. She has a Master’s in Film and Viedo Production and has worked in television, radio and other print media. A liberal feminist, Shahana is an independent writer and video producer, a wannabe vegan and a dilettante environmentalist. She currently lives in Dubai with her husband and two children.