Thirty-three-year-old Yusuf Khan Kambalposh reached England in August 1837. He was not seeking a fortune, but was driven solely by the urge to explore a world far removed from his own. Tarikh-i Yusufi is a fascinating account of his travels in Europe and North Africa. It is one of the earliest travelogues in Urdu.
Yusuf nurtures a deep reverence and romantic attachment to England but his fascination does not deter him from exploring the socio-cultural differences between the East and the West with a critical eye. From the lively description of art pieces and architectural delights to the colourful portraits of the people he met-his account is interesting, amusing, at times offensive, but one that still occasionally rises to a grave eloquence.
Between Worlds is the first English translation of Yusuf's travelogue. With travelogues being an accepted genre in postcolonial studies, this work assumes greater significance-it contrasts the conditions in Europe with that in the colonies then governed by European countries and exposes the duality of their approach with respect to those colonies. It is one of those rare works which reverse the gaze and expose the reader to a non-European's perception of the imperial world. The editors' introduction and the detailed annotations contextualize the information and highlight its significance in the corpus of travel literature.