Allied Studies, Prasad Shetty

In a City, Parts Do Not Make a Whole

Urbanism and Storytelling

The Storytelling module for 2022 was held with the excitements and energies of the post-pandemic world - we walked across the city for several days. We walked through old villages, industrial neighbourhoods, red light areas, old markets, portlands, neo-rich suburbs, slums, hospitals, creeks, mangroves, cemeteries, and everywhere else. Meanwhile, we also collected fragments of lives in the form of narratives and gossip. When stitched together, they reconstructed the viscera of the city that we traversed. These were the Gut Stories.

… Something else had struck Rani’s mind for the past 6 months, something that she heard about from her workplace.

“Toh aap bol rahe ho, ki woh ladki ne apne photos daal diye internet pe aur usko paise mile? Aise kaise photos dale usne? ”

“Arey aise kaise batau Rani, she posted pictures of her breasts on OnlyFans, and she has some five thousand fans, so that is easy money really ” Mrs.Oberoi said while scrolling through Instagram on her phone.

6 months after this conversation, Rani found herself on this app. She gained the confidence and validation from the men who she had never seen or met before, but they made her feel better than her husband. It became a routine where she regularly posted photos of herself, after breastfeeding her child and putting him to sleep. She had the entire afternoon to herself to carefully document her body..

… After I finished, I cleaned myself and wrapped up her body in plastic and placed her in my cupboard carefully, making sure that she doesn’t fall out. I wore my track pants and shirt, tied my shoelaces and left my house. Staying fit was essential, to have a steady hand at slicing open my patients, operating on them and eventually taking them home. I usually went on runs to Powai Lake. I resided on an elevated landscape, with perfectly manicured trees, chopped grass, without any shit lying on the road, just how I preferred it. Smooth roads and wider footpaths made it easier for me to run quickly from my place to the lake. The part that I despised the most was the JVLR road, where the sound of the road made me go crazy, that I usually avoided as soon as possible and climbed the cross over bridge to reach the promenade on the other side. The edge of the lake was filled with couples sitting at regular intervals, where they spoke, kissed, cuddled and stared at me. On that run, I encountered a woman, whose face I immediately recognized. She was big on OnlyFans, and went by the name Rani…

In this episode of the module, the walks brought a closeness with the material city. The walks were more or less slow wanderings through the routine, everyday city, which often offered its surprises. There were hidden shrines and archaeological artefacts, there were unusual places of work and rest, very intense streets and quiet gardens, and a whole variety of food. This material city got expressed in the stories that were subsequently written. The stories try to hold the flux of the transforming city through small instances of new crime, the horizon of morality, and indicators of a changing city. These stories hold this flux not only from the external morphology, but also the internal everyday.
Bhandup Hill
Bhandup Hill
Chinese Temple, Dockyard RoadDarukhana / Portlands

Ekta Nagar, Kandivali

Lower Parel

Sewri Cemetery