It is a novel by an America based journalist, writer, and traveler Sam miller, where he talks about his experience in the mega city Delhi of India. He starts with the history of city, how the city did rise from its own ruins due to repeated calamities and how it evolved literally area wise by swallowing the villages and farmlands around and also as a city which has vivid cultures.
Then the author describes the real incidents from his life and how those experiences drew him to the city, helped him to build his own perspective of the city. The events start with a shame story from his childhood where he misunderstands new-Delhi and Delhi as one thing. Then the assassination of prime-minister Indira Gandhi draws his attention to the city. He also sees Delhi in the backdrop of a movie the householder, where he watches the hero ‘prem’ played by Indian actor ‘Shashi Kapoor’ dancing around one of the landmark ‘jantar-mantar’ of the city. The author finally gets the opportunity to visit the city in 1989, when he is sent there as a journalist by national geography. Author also compares other mega cities of India such as Mumbai and Calcutta with Delhi and says how he feels Delhi as a city without a heart and people of Delhi as ‘matlabi’ people, which is a Hindi word used by localities for the people who doesn’t show much interest in others.
Then miller decides to explore the city as a flaneur- a person who travels aimlessly, by walking and not by using any medium of transportation. But he faces many challenges such as in which pattern should he travel so he can also travel hidden part of the city. The idea of travelling into a specific pattern comes to him from a French traveler who took map of London put the letter ‘V’ on it and started travelling those parts of the city. There are no definite explanations why the letter ‘V’. This inspires him to select a pattern and then travel, he gets intrigued by the letter ‘W’ then the letter ‘OM’ from Hindu script. Finally he decides to travel in the spiral pattern, keeping the center of the city as the center of spiral. In this way he explores the city but never goes out of it, as in spiral the radius keeps on increasing but keeps you connected to the center.
I think this book inspires you as well as guides you how to travel cities and places in way so that you can explore the hidden fabrics of the city.