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Bridge over the Sabarmati

An Urban Journey into Violence and Back

Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi

A strange contradiction haunts the urban experience of Ahmedabad, a city strongly divided along class and communal lines. The city's Sabarmati river is traversed by seven modern bridges, which, instead of being a solution to the problem of separation, have assumed its very form. In ordinary life, as well as during extraordinary events, residents of the city use these bridges not only to span space and gain access to the other half of the city, but also to escape and confine, project and expiate, and even to remain hidden while in full view. This article describes experiences of separation in Ahmedabad and how these experiences become expressed in reference to its bridges. In other words, urban structures, intended to overcome physical space and represent the modern promise of connectivity, become, instead, embodiments of division.