Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Ishan Marvel & Aleksandr Pushkin, Mandi House
Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla met poet Ishan Marvel outside Regal Cinema in early 2015. That evening he had shared his poem ‘My City is…’ with us.
I meet Mr Marvel again. This sweaty afternoon we arrange our rendezvous beside Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin’s statue in Mandi House. This place is intimately connected to Mr Marvel’s inner life. “There was a girl,” he says. “Among other things, she introduced me to Pushkin.”
Mr Marvel is reluctant to be photographed (again) but eventually agrees to my repeated requests. Glancing up at Pushkin, he says, “I’d never imagined something like this could exist in Delhi—this majestic figure looking into the distance, with crazy sideburns and billowing coat… it was a time when I was only reading Russian authors, and beginning to fall for the city as an idea. That evening, we held hands and, for the first time, meant it. Here, with Pushkin behind us.”
Mr Marvel shares his poem ‘With Pushkin #10’ with us.
With Pushkin #10
Look what your absence does
I’m going to protests and cultural dos
even went to the art fair last week
I spend my time with drunks, junks
poets, saints, and whackjobs of all kinds
but mostly I am alone
I drink more, think more, and live less
can’t remember when I last dreamt
and yes, I’m smoking again
I’m sick of the inner circle too
now, I just sit at the old park
like a monk in vague penance
But here I am with Pushkin today
back where it all began
Sometimes, I come hoping to find you
other times, I don’t
* * *
If we meet again… here
Lovely pics and beautiful words.
I wish we had more monuments dedicated to writers, thinkers, artists and poets. The statue pictured above is rather pleasing. But note the hideous electrical cables that form the ‘backdrop’.
I have observed that Delhi has some pretty ugly ‘sarkari’ monuments( like the cyclopean flag in the middle of CP that seeks to overcompensate for a lot of things). Most of them were conceived and created by mediocre individuals often in pursuance of some petty political mission. Some statues/memorials are downright anti-aesthetic. Their ugliness may be chalked up to the antipathy that pervades almost every aspect of our public lives. Very few of us care about beautiful city squares, fountains,libraries or museums. We go about our quotidian tasks without pausing to reflect on the shoddiness that surrounds us. We don’t know what it’s like to have grand arches and elegant public buildings because we are used to the brown-and-grey of our crumbling cities.
Anyhow, the poem was good.
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