27 July, 2021

The Flaneur Outpaces A Tram

Calcutta—city of broken dreams and of crusty, magnetic charm. A young hack’s progress through its florid past and dented present winks at death itself.

The Flaneur Outpaces A Tram

Having escaped certain death by a Nazi firing squad, the enigmatic French philosopher Mau­rice Blanchot dedicated the rest of his long life to understand how the act of writing itself can be the most assured insurance against the inevitability of death, of erasure. The Epic City reminded me of Blanchot’s pronouncements. In this book, with the eyes of a flaneur and the pen of an itinerant, Kushan­ava stands at the crossroads of the manifold invitations to dusty death that makes up the current cartography of Calcutta. He manages to not only hold forth in Calcutta’s legendary chaos, but stands with grace, emb­racing his world wholeheartedly, wri­ting fiercely. Kushanava returns to Calcutta—the city that rehabilitated his grandparents and was left behind by his parents. His romance is in the act of coming back itself—against the tide—to a city known for being one of perpetual abandonment.

The idea of flaneur, derived from Bau­d­elaire’s work by Walter Benjamin, embodies a stroller, wanderer, raconteur and even a...

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