Different parts of the city hold different meanings for those who come to live in it. The footpath to a bus stop in East Delhi, the view of Purana Qila from a mudrika, the first ice cream at India Gate, a market, a park, a housing colony, a route or a stop accumulate to make the city for us, and in strange and invisible ways also make us. Yet, we continue to exist in ourselves and in cities in this constant play of the visible and ever-changing present, jousting constantly with our memories and our present navigating through a place.
‘Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.’ —James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room What is a home? Is it a feeling, a habit, a set of relationships or a combination of materials and floor plans? The idea of this essay was triggered three months back, when I was asked to shift from the… Continue reading Homing and unhoming: taxonomies of living
ab toh yahaan ke mausam mujhse aisi umeedein rakhte hain jaise hamesha se main yahin hoon Gangaji aur Jamunaji Amrohe mein Baan nadi ke paas jo ladka rehta tha ab woh kahan hai? Main toh wahin hoon Gangaji aur Jamunaji [Now even the seasons here have such expectations of me as if I have always been here, Gangaji and… Continue reading Letters from Karachi
‘Color clings more, not necessarily to the object, but to territoriality...’ —Deleuze and Guattari ‘sab qatl hoke tere muqabil se aaye hain, hum log surkh-ru hain ki manzil se aaye hain’ (After being ambushed, we have returned to you, Unabashed we have come back home) —Faiz Ahmed Faiz Red is not a colour but a… Continue reading Red is not a colour
‘The black, pensive, dense/domes of the mausoleums/suddenly shot birds/into the unanimous blue.’ —‘In the Lodi Gardens’, Octavio Paz ‘Yeh kahan aa gaye hum, yunhi saath chalte chalte...’ —Silsila (1981) As an anthropologist of space, place and architecture, I have always wondered about the monument. Moving back to Delhi, the city of monuments, a cryptographic ensemble of… Continue reading Love in the time of the monumental
This piece was originally published in The Funambulist 12 (July–August 2017) Racialized Incarcerations as part of the ‘Political Walks’. ‘Never forget 1984.’ —Poster in Bhogal Chowk, Delhi, 2017 ‘Story telling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it’ —Hannah Arendt, 1962 The idea behind this essay goes back to a conversation in a classroom… Continue reading A topography of survival: mnemonics and the making of a street in Delhi
Buildings are languages spoken at the intersections of space and time in the making of the city. Weathering languages, stealth blue concrete high-rises, sometimes speaking in Russian in the NDMC rashtra bhasha corridors. There is babble on the street, incremental refugee colonies, with Punjabi baroque and Arya Samaj façades, Bengali Victorian art deco balconies and… Continue reading Making horizons, making cities: reading a moment through three languages