In A for Prayagraj, a young writer returns to his hometown to reclaim its stories and histories lost to monochrome. As he accompanies the city’s residents—from a whisky-swigging criminal lawyer to parkour athletes to language coaches, poets, and theatre artists to a closeted Grindr date—into their cityscapes, the lines between the past and present start to blur.
In the chapter ‘McAloo Tikki in Allahabad’, we dive into the different pools of the city’s pasts. In ‘Saam Daam Gun Bhed’ we look at crime, strategies of survival, and the crucible of street law. ‘Bakaiti’ is a guide through the older and newer spaces of the city’s creativity. ‘Apna Time Aayega’ deals with education and unemployment. ‘F for Fyaar, F se Firaq’ is a love story, both literary and digital.
Part memoir, part reportage, part travelogue, this book renders Allahabad as neither ageing and grey, nor polarized saffron—instead we see a sangam of contrasts. In one of the oldest living cities in the world, new things have materialized and others have disappeared, but the city endures.