Thursday, January 20, 2011

beeta saal

Over a year went by in which I wrote nothing on the blog. It wasn't that I wasn't writing, but I was in Delhi, doing research, and it all seemed a little unbloggable, as it were. I worked on the city, and the city worked on me, and it was all a little more fraught and sad and bruising and transformative and enlightening and melancholy and deep and rich with both tears and laughter than the chatty, snippet-y style of (my) blogging could do justice to.

Now that I'm back in New York, and about to go off Facebook so that I can write the damn dissertation instead of looking at everyone's status updates, I think I'll return to the blog; in the form I like it best -- a repository of writing and ideas and works in progress, open to comment and conversation. So in that spirit, here's links to some of the stuff I did write last year.

To begin with, the city overwhelmed me. I couldn't stop looking and listening, my Delhi-wallah armour was off. I gave a talk at my alma mater, Ramjas College, early in my wide-eared sojourn in Delhi, and on Shivam Vij's insistence, posted a snippet of it about overheard conversations on Kafila. Continuing to be often overwhelmed by the city, I left it a lot. I went to Haridwar, to Spiti and to Iran; the latter being a particularly special journey.

When I was in the city, I ended up being involved in two art-projects. One, Beam Me Up (curated by Gitanjali Dang), for which I wrote an essay for/about a public art-project by Vishal Rawlley, involving a floating sculpture, a medieval reservoir, and skype. The other was a photo-essay on Delhi that I put together for the Delhi Commons website, curated by Iram Ghufran.

Also, while in the city, some experiments in trying to make my research/academic work popularly accessible, mostly thanks to Raghu Karnad at TimeOut Delhi. On tracing the forgotten biography of an early 16th century saint at Bijay Mandal; and a piece on what the first decade of New Delhi felt like to those in the newly "Old" City. (There was a tranlsation of a page and a half of Intezar Husain too, but I can't seem to find a link).

While in Delhi I cried and bemoaned the city more than I have ever done; but it also became for me, more strongly than ever before, shehr-i yaran, the city of friends. And for that no thanks is enough.

Alhamdulillah.

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