Evacuate the city

Salman Rushdie recounts the event in his novel The Enchantress of Florence: The destruction of Fatehpur Sikri had begun. . . . Slowly, moment by moment, retreating at a man’s walking pace, the water was receding. [The emperor] sent for the city’s leading engineers but they were at a loss to explain the phenomenon. . . . Without the lake the citizens who could not afford Kashmiri ice would have nothing to drink, nothing to wash or cook with, and their children would soon die. . . . Without the lake the city was a parched and shriveled husk. The water continued to drain away. The death of the lake was the death of Sikri as well. Without water we are nothing. Even an emperor, denied water, would swiftly turn to dust. Water is the real monarch and we are all its slaves. “Evacuate the city,” the emperor Akbar commanded. (Rushdie 2008, 344–45)

Paragraph as found in Nikil Anand’s book ‘Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai’ (Durham and London, 2017, p. x).

 

When there’s a lack of techniques, when by chance a strike or breakdown deprives us of a means of communication or transport, everyone learns, walking and talking, that the social world is indeed flat, that it has to be composed piece by piece, staircase by staircase, concierge by concierge.
Bruno Latour & Emilie Hermant