A lonely road is lined with lit street lamps. The photograph is blurred and those who enjoy tweaking pictures on Instagram will immediately identify with the effect by the application. The text on the photograph talks about the venue. The shot has been taken from the basement, above which a party is on. Scrolling through more photographs and reading their descriptions, the reader is drawn into a story about Delhi and the myriad experiences it offers. Written jointly by Arjun Jassal and Aazar Anis, Delhi Hectic is an Instagram-based novel by the two dilliwallas.
Hardcore fans of comic strips, Jassal and Anis originally wanted to make a graphic novel about their lives in the Capital.
“Unfortunately, our illustrator moved to Kolkata. That’s when we thought of making a novel against the backdrop of Instagram pictures,” says Anis, who works in an advertisement firm in Delhi.
The novel, divided into 12 chapters, often goes back and forth between Anis and Jassal’s narratives and the two try to strike a balance between their separate voices. While Anis writes in a lyrical manner, Jassal’s style is loud, with an in-your-face edge. The first three chapters revolve around the parties hosted in the city and the duo’s strong dislike for them. The next three chapters are about their growing up years, and the remaining six talk about how Delhi has evolved into a new city, much different from what it originally was.
“Both of us moved out of the city for about a decade to study and work. When we came back, we found ourselves alien to our surroundings. Delhi had changed. We needed to talk about it and express our feelings. We did it through Delhi Hectic,” says Jassal, who runs a social media agency.
Though the novel is autobiographical, the two hardly use photographs of themselves. “We don’t want to be the guys who everyone stays away from,” says Jassal. Anis says that when they had started putting their plans for the novel into action in January this year, they already had a library of Instagram photographs to use and when they fell short for certain sections, they would march out and click photos on their smartphones.
The number of followers they have has taken the duo by surprise. They had started with a target of getting 100 views a day, but by the time the first four chapters were completed, the figures