About 10 years ago in his graphic novel Corridor, Sarnath Banerjee developed the character of Brighu – a restless investigator of the ordinary in the tradition of Fernando Pessoa, Charles Baudelaire and Khalifa Harun al-Rashid. Brighu has recently been brought back from his Rambo-like seclusion to feature in a series of image- and text-based essays on the enchanted geography of Berlin, which is poised to become the next big Welstadt: a world city of great economic, political and cultural influence.
Over the next few weeks, Banerjee, through Brighu, will record seemingly normal observations of life in Berlin. The stories will have a slightly uncanny flavour. The series will explain the notions of cosmopolitanism, the position of India in the continental imagination and that of Europe in the imagination of the subcontinent. Often the stories emerge from afar – Kochi, Sao Paulo, Almora, Kinshasa – and end in Berlin, as if part of a global conversation. Because the (unreliable) narrator is a citizen of the global south, his gaze can be loosely construed as reverse-oriental. He stumbles upon things, introspects, and often transplants his own memories into the objects, people and places he encounters. He resembles a detective who uses the methods of his profession but has no case to solve, thus creating a private dingewelt, a hidden history of things.