I know him as an anchor on Prime Time, NDTV (Indian News Channel); a journalist who voices his opinion freely, never observed to be biased, and is loved for his freewheeling thoughts often filling our living rooms while he discusses issues of public concerns very candidly. And, in a language understood by a majority – Hindi. He is Ravish Kumar.
I learnt that he has written a book – Ishq Mein Shahar Hona, in Hindi, from a set of my friends, who prefer reading books in the Hindi language, and that’s how I learnt about this book. I enjoy reading English more. One of my friends began reading the author’s note and I loved the concept – LaPreK (Laghu Prem Katha) i.e. Short Love Stories. Something new with the language (Hindi). And, these weren’t your regular love stories of sort, these were the stories of romancing with the city. Not just the South of Delhi, not the Lutyen’s. It [the book] loves the city as you love your lover – accepting all their faults, appreciating them for who they are and what they are.
Ravish Kumar comes from Motihari, Bihar. A city both famous and infamous for a variety of reasons. Coming from a village in Motihari to the epicentre of politics – New Delhi, Ravish Kumar has had his own shares of adjustment with the city life until he finally learnt that he is love with this city. Though he was advised against a lot of things by his parents as mentioned in the book. Or, as he concludes:
“Maybe it had been my mother’s sense of insecurity about her child being kidnapped in the strange city.”
Our journalist, slowly and steadily, became a Delhi Wallah, and began to romance with the city.
He began to notice, observe, and live the city life in minute details.
The book draws the attention of readers to all the colours and flavours of life. Be it the glances which love-birds attract in the metro or be it the moral policing of our ideas and actions; this book covers it all and how. Let us look at the ‘hiding in each other’ by the lovers in an auto in the city:
It was March and the air had begun to heat up. Both of them insisted that the autowalah should drop down the flaps on both the sides. Even in the din of the auto, there was now an extraordinary silence inside. One of the driver’s eyes got stuck on the rear-view mirror. To escape him, both of them began to hide in each other. The driver forgot the score of the meter. The auto began to race towards Shankar Road….
And, he also has a lot to say about all that has been said. Somethings which have immortalized and corrupted the city by its strange vocabulary (words) of love (or used by lovers). Ravish writes:
….The city is covered by the corpses of words. There’s no such thing which hasn’t been said. There’s so much corpse which hasn’t been saddled with the firewood of words. It’s only in search of a spark that the horseman kept running. This is a city of walls, sir. Here, a dead body of words is hanging on each wall – this voice drove him mad. The horse neighed. Lifted his legs. The horseman leaned backwards. Rose towards the sky. Millions of words were flakes now, flying in the air. Getting entwined with each other, making a network of sots. The city…is getting buried in a dictionary.
And sometimes being a lover in the city turns you into a philosopher as well. It is almost cryptic – this conversation – it is difficult to find out whether the lover, in the disguise of the author, is talking to himself. Or is it the city of djinns which is inquiring the insomniac lover?
Who’s still awake this late at night?
The moon and the troubled.
And who’s sleeping?
Ha ha…when did you become a philosopher?
Since you became a lover.
One of the important highlights of this book is that how it keeps the inter-mingling of cultures, dreams, ideas, and city-goals, so to speak, intact. Each of the outsider (including me, in some ways, though I don’t feel like it), here, has come with a goal. And, sometimes we lose the track of this goal for a city has so much to offer that it almost blinds you with its lustrous promises. It is here where dreams are crushed or the story of rags to riches is written.
But it’s even here that you learn, through the book, that sometimes you can ruin a very cordial relationship by offering a thekua. Read this:
“Cultures can meet only in a marketplace. He just made one blunder. In return for momos, he gave her a thekua from back home one day. That was the last evening of him indulging his taste for momos…”
Some dreams become a part of collective goals of a relationship. When the city you love is not loved in the same proportion by your lover. She tends to like a part of it. Maybe just the way she liked one of your qualities. She doesn’t want to live in Rajouri Garden, Mister, she’s made for Jor Bagh Lane. Certain things you realize when you actually resides and love the city as much you love your love.
To my mind, the book’s title keeps all promises which it makes. There are several reasons to read this books:
It rushes like people in Connaught Place,
It is as suave as conversations in India International Centre,
It is as peripheral as Dilshad Garden to Delhi,
It has rags of Seemapuri and lust of M Block Market,
Illustrations in the book are no less than Chandni Chowk,
A political bedrock as Jantar Mantar,
A potpourri of culture as Delhi Haat,
And, a resort to relax on a weekend as Chattarpur farms.
So, when are you going to leave your comfort zone and take an inward-outward journey to romance with Delhi? Take a note of all the tiny beautiful things which happens in the city, as mentioned in the book, and as you smirk recalling the same, one might just interrupt your thoughts, “Bhaiya ye 221 kab ayegi?” (When will Bus No. 221 arrive, brother?)