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The Rhetoric of Return


Diasporic Homecoming and the New Indian City

“We set out, [my father] and my mother and I, for Karol Bagh. ‘15/64 Western Extension Area, Ajmal Khan Road,’ he chanted momentously in the back of the car. We drove through the wide, fluid streets of the bureaucratic area…the entire area was bursting at the seams: shops and warehouses extended out onto the streets, apartments had grown upwards and outwards into every possible gap, and parked cars filled in the rest. We missed our turn and had to do a U-turn, a mistake that cost us half an hour…My father became increasingly upset as we penetrated deeper and deeper into the end-of-day clamour. ‘Karol Bagh used to be a bagh,’ he said, ‘a garden. I used to ride my bike on these streets. What happened?’”—Rana Dasgupta1

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