In the summer of 2015, Sonepat suddenly turned sensational—full of youth and possibilities. It was difficult to imagine Sonepat as sensational. I had lived many years in Delhi, just twenty-three kilometres away from Sonepat. We would visit Gurgaon and Noida often. Some of us even had friends in Faridabad. But I had never visited Sonepat. I didn’t know anyone from there; it was difficult to imagine the sensational possibilities of a city tucked so close to Delhi, but yet so far away in our imaginations.
Then, Ashoka University was established in 2014. Suddenly, Sonepat was being noticed by many of us who had never visited it before, despite its proximity. To teach at Ashoka, I moved to this Suddenly Sensational Sonepat. When I arrived, I was stunned. It was so different from Noida, Gurgaon, or even Faridabad. We had seen so little, explored so less. Perhaps, it was this unexplored nature of the area that encouraged one of my students, Bedika Chattopadhyay, to ask me to help her start a literary journal. I replied that I would be happy to help, but only if it was an undergraduate journal that also focused on translations. That was the best thing about a new institution: you could start new things yourself.
During my undergraduate years in Delhi University, there were hardly any journals where young writers could publish their works. I remember feeling that absence acutely. Then, the online journal boom happened. I even started one myself, with a few friends scattered in different parts of the world. Now, there are numerous literary journals online. But in India, we still don’t have journals that only publish undergraduate writers. I hoped Plot Number Two would fill this gap. After many discussions, we decided to turn the journal’s self-referential title into a characteristic trait. It would not just be conscious of its location in a newly Sensational Sonepat, but of its location in polyphonic South Asia.
Now, we have a new edition of the journal, launched a few weeks before my last working days at Ashoka. I am excited about the key role this journal could play in providing a space for young voices, as well as in publishing translations from South Asia and beyond. I am inclined to believe that this is the beginning of a long and adventurous trek, through mist and smog, towards bright sunlight. But most importantly, I hope it will function as a publication that will remind us of how little we know about worlds close to us. During those years as an undergraduate student, I wish I had visited Sonepat—I wonder how it would have changed my image of Delhi and NCR.