The making of Mapu
Martand Singh, a seminal figure in the world of textile conservation died last month. A writer remembers his indelible influence
The boredom of a colonial society can sometimes be mistaken for stability. But, long before outside events intervened, I knew my world in Delhi was not stable. I knew that the isolation of our English-speaking world in India could not last. I knew, too, that my triangulations were not a private matter. They were part of a tension that was playing out through the society at large. The three places I oscillated between represented three very different directions in which my life could go: New York, where I imagined I would be free of the past, free to make myself over; Banaras (now Varanasi), where I would try actively to overcome the isolation of my upbringing, try, as it were, to make a “return to self"; and then there was Delhi, where I had returned to live after a decade abroad, and where I felt myself to be in purgatory. When, in 2008, a few years after my return, life in Delhi grew too arid, the person I went to see was Mapu.