by Rahul Kanakia
Razabad is a city of white stone and straight lines.
This wasn't always true: for a time, migrants tried to put up wavy shanties in empty lots and build huts of corrugated tin that leaned against the stone pylons of underpasses. They tried to live inside cement cylinders and within the few feet of space between the side of the tunnel and the side of the train. But the spider picked their tiny nests apart and tucked everything back into its proper place. The spider is the only thing in Razabad that is allowed to be curvy and jagged.
Although Razabad was planned by a white man, he was chosen because he fit the spirit of modern India: careful, precise, and forward-looking. The planner had to be coaxed across the sea by a saffron-robed freedom fighter who was well-practiced in bringing tears to the eyes of a certain kind of Anglo.
Long before the city became a reality--long before there was even a nation of India that was capable of desiring a monument to its newfound modernity--the planner had spent hours in a tiny office in Geneva where he rotated and maneuvered the pieces of his dream city, bringing them together and pulling them apart, until he despaired of ever producing something that wasn't just a jumble of conflict and ugliness. Until, on one marvelous day, the pieces snapped together and that vision of order rose above him.
He wanted to create a city that was so perfectly efficient that its residents barely noticed it operating around them. A city that put a minimum of barriers between its residents and the things that they wanted to do.
And that is the plan that the freedom fighter allowed him to enact.
With one tiny addition.
Since the planner refused to design the spider, it has no order or unity. It is a dull grey heap of wire and jagged servomotors. The planner's only concession to its existence was to create a bunker--hidden by a line of hills--in which to store it.