City Life – The Rubble of Our Ruins, Old Delhi
Goodbye to past.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There goes down one more landmark whose history is now lost to us forever. But where’s the time to pause and mourn. In any case, cities are forever changing their complexion. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.
The historic Walled City is no exception. Besides iconic monuments like the Red Fort, it’s also been home for generations of residents.
But these old homes are vanishing. One by one. And now one more lakhori-brick residence has been demolished, right here at the street intersection of Gali Sooiwallan with a lane that connects to Ganj Mir Khan.
“The authorities razed it because it and developed cracks,” explains a local fruit seller to The Delhi Walla. The elegant home was more than 100 years old, “and had become dangerous.”
Old buildings like this contain unknown histories that are lost forever. In the past few years a popular chai shop on its ground floor attracted locals from morning to night. “It was run by a man called Kailash,” the grocer next door reveals.
There were rooms upstairs but the locals say they were empty, though one barber who runs a salon nearby says that a few labourers had made the upstairs quarter their home.
If so, where are they living now?
The barber has no answer.
This morning, city folk are walking past the rubble without a glance. Two gentlemen standing next to it are discussing the forthcoming season of dengue fever. It is astonishing that something that had been standing for more than a century has gone overnight and the world has so quickly reconciled to its absence.
The debris might be cleared by the time you read its obituary. Even so, you ought to go to this crossing and offer your homage by gazing upon the spot where that elegant old Delhi structure connected our present to our past.
The vanishing of private histories