exit one

Exit One
By Ishan Marvel
May 2018
Available at Amazon.in

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But will I forget all your ways, city?

I hope not

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At 27, the author realised that the romantic Delhi he believed in mostly existed in his own head, and that he was stuck therein. So, he embarked on a half-conscious exit, alone into the country, an escape not only in terms of geography, but from the sundry trappings and numbing patterns of the urban bubble. Exit One provides first glimpses from this on-going journey, and as a precursor, includes poetic tales from the author’s days as a magazine reporter, venturing an unapologetic look into contemporary time and place.

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Ishan Marvel takes his own sweet time to get to places. He was born in the mountains, and has now returned to them with the mission of building a samgh and effing the ineffable.

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Most of this book was written by a young, confused city-writer who consciously or otherwise wanted nothing more than to be a city-writer. Dictions: Delhi ’15 stems from this phase of my life, deconstructing some of the undercurrents that make a city what it is, by venturing an unapologetic look into contemporary time and place.

Gradually, I realised the romantic city I believed in existed mostly in my own head, and was often simply an echo of my emotions and influences. Consequently, there grew a desire to exorcise myself off this metropolitan-chronicler ghost — the one skimming off cheap bars, men-about-town, dead-night roads, islandish women, crass laughter and naked neuroses; off institutionalised racket-systems (be it politics, governance, art, culture, academia, spiritualism or activism) that feed off themselves, creating their own illusory demand; off the hobnobbing, half-incestuous networks that go on loop-like performing and patting each other on the backs; and off the pervading arrogance, fear, guilt, paranoia, resentment and lust of the city.

So, as things came to pass, I embarked on a half-conscious exit, alone into the country — a desired escape not only in terms of geography, but from the sundry trappings and numbing patterns that we take for granted as part of the urban bubble. In Transit provides glimpses from this on-going journey, with more to come.

I dedicate this book to the late Hari Narayan Sanyal, who above all helped me understand that in the end one must choose life and love over words.

And thus, Exit One.

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From Last evenings in the city

Taking in the descending red sandstone glory of Agrasen ki Baoli — the 14th century step well attributed to the legendary king Agrasen from Mahabharat times — the one popular Delhi monument I failed to visit all these years

Too many people and too many phones (Amir Khan’s PK did for this place what Hrithik Roshan’s Lakshya did for Hauz Khas)
I walk down the three levels towards the dark narrow passage leading to the main reservoir at the bottom, where an elderly white couple is struggling to fit in a selfie
Back up, there is the mosque area, with skyscrapers peeking over its half-collapsed roof

Return to KG Marg, earlier called Curzon Road — one of eight main arteries radiating from CP circle

To Curzon Road Hostel, where my parents and I first set camp after arriving in the city about 25 years ago
I had never bothered to revisit the place, and now, to put it in the most clichéd oxymoronic terms — everything seems strange yet familiar:
The Mother Dairy and Delhi Milk Scheme outlets, the four-feet wide shops by the road, and of course, the high-rise sarkari apartments in shades of pink, where among other things, I first encountered an elevator, and used to run it up and down over a dozen times a day — not get out of the building, just up and down

After a quick piss in the public rest room by an under-the-tree barber’s spot (vacant at the moment) I sit at a chai shop just outside the hostel complex, run by a middle-aged, kaffiyeh-sporting man with a full, luxuriant beard
Apparently, he’s been here for over 25 years, and I’m probably re-enacting my father’s chai-cigarette routine from back then… pretty good chai though

Via KG Road back towards CP
Next cut into Inner Circle across Janpath
Then left before A block, near Metro gate 7,
and right into Middle Circle alley near booze shop —

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