City Walk – A Lane in Jacoobpura, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is a sudden dive into peacefulness. As if you have not entered into a mere lane but a region of light and void and silence. The very air feels on snooze mode making you wonder if the clock too has slowed.
The main road slicing through the Furniture Market in Gurgaon’s Jacobpura is blessed with a harmonious flow of pedestrians, scooters and rickshaws. This afternoon it is marooned in a padding of cosy clatter. The unnamed lane lies on this road so discreetly that its opening is barely noticeable to a passerby.
This afternoon the lane is lying resignedly like a meditative prisoner in solitary confinement. It terminates into a cul-de-sac after a distance of mere 200 steps. The passage is flanked by backyards of old derelict houses. The yellow paint has peeled off the walls, revealing red bricks underneath. Spindly water pipes are encrusted with flaking layers of grime. A grey electric meter is covered with scrawls in pencil. The grilled windows are crocheted with cobwebs—perhaps a work of months or even years.
The most astonishing sight is of a peepal tree that is miraculously growing out from the higher portion of a wall, suggesting that the concrete is slowly giving way to wilderness.
The lane’s other noteworthy sight is of a blue wooden door with delicately carved designs on its ledge.
The door is locked. The padlock is cobwebbed.
Straight ahead the lane is shaded by a roof whose parapet consists of a network of peepholes, an architectural elegance common to the havelis of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan.
Truth be told, this narrow outpost appears to be originally a corridor running through the heart of a grand mansion. A nearby grocer confirms the lane was always as it is.
It is perhaps the city outside the lane that has changed.
Some other time