There’s something about the street

‘I? I walk alone; The midnight street Spins itself from under my feet; When my eyes shut These dreaming houses all snuff out; Through a whim of mine Over gables the moon's celestial onion Hangs high.’ —‘Soliloquy of the Solipsist’, Sylvia Plath, 1956 ‘I do not know which of us has written this page.’ —Jorge… Continue reading There’s something about the street

Letters from Karachi

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

I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle…

I was gifted a cycle last year by a ‘cyclist’ friend but have used it only a couple of times, sometimes in a large park a few kilometres away from my house and a few times to buy vegetables and groceries closer home. Even as I had been warned by friends—part of a tiny minority… Continue reading I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle…

When a Dilliwali Rides a Cycle in Ahmedabad

As our blog evolves into a growing archive on writing the city, we are keen have people write for us on their very personal experiences of cities and unique ways of seeing cities. As an anthropologist interested in the realm of the quotidian, I am fascinated by stories of ordinary city dwellers, which is why… Continue reading When a Dilliwali Rides a Cycle in Ahmedabad

What she thinks when she thinks about walking

Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp in time tells me we’re not young. Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty, my limbs streaming with a purer joy? did I lean from any window over the city listening for the… Continue reading What she thinks when she thinks about walking

Red is not a colour

‘Color clings more, not necessarily to the object, but to territoriality...’ —Deleuze and Guattari[1] ‘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[2] Red is not a colour[3] but a… Continue reading Red is not a colour

Walking in circles

‘Part of what makes roads, trails, and paths so unique as built structures is that they cannot be perceived as a whole all at once by a sedentary onlooker. They unfold in time as one travels along them...’—Rebecca Solnit Streets come alive, bit by bit, step by step, as we trace our routes along them.… Continue reading Walking in circles

A topography of survival: mnemonics and the making of a street in Delhi

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

Of my shahar and its stories, or how to love an ‘unloved’ city

‘When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city? / Do you huddle close together because you love each other?” / What will you answer? “We all dwell together / To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?’ — T.S. Eliot Recently, while travelling in a DTC bus in the… Continue reading Of my shahar and its stories, or how to love an ‘unloved’ city

Making horizons, making cities: reading a moment through three languages

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

One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go

Imagine yourself in the lanes of 18th-century Delhi, playing a pipe as you are walking along and getting invited to a popular coffee haunt in the city. This is the arrival scene of James Allen (b. 1734), a ‘celebrated’ Northumberland piper, as described in an 1828 book on his travels and adventures (A New, Improved,… Continue reading One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go

To walk or not to walk

‘Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.’—Rebecca Solnit I keep hearing many people in Delhi grumble that the city is not meant to be walked in—pavements are perpetually ‘in-repair’… Continue reading To walk or not to walk