City Landmark – Toilet Monolith, Deer Park
Art in everyday world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Recently, the mystery apparition (and subsequent disappearance) of shiny monoliths in the United States and Romania have caused shock waves of excitement. Is it the work of aliens, or some sort of discreet artistic performance?
And what about this abandoned Indian-style toilet, in south Delhi’s Deer Park? Can it be considered a work of art in its currently evolved form? Do we know where it comes from?
Covered with earth, and with a single plant growing from it, the discovery looks utterly original.
The toilet lies next to a pathway snaking towards the Hauz Khas lake. Quick investigations with a gardener sunning herself on the lawn nearby reveals that a restaurant used to stand on the spot. This must have been the restaurant’s toilet, the woman says, admitting amusedly that she herself never noticed this odd sight until now.
The restaurant building stands nearby, in ruins. That and the toilet’s wild state stand as a testament to Delhi’s very spirit—a land crammed with medieval and contemporary histories, which sometimes go past each other in parallel layers and sometimes intersect. This part of the capital is littered with centuries-old Tughlak monuments, and this surreal-seeming ex-toilet is one more addition to Delhi’s many anonymous ruins — though this one is probably an early 21st century specimen. It could easily be passed off, one imagines, as a work of art in a bold and ambitious biennale—one can already imagine the all-knowing critics elaborating on their interpretations of the curious exhibit.
In any case, this kind of toilet is already on its way to becoming worthy of a museum. An increasing number of homes and offices, in India’s urban centres at least, have long ago replaced it by the western-style toilet seat, with the ubiquitous mug (lota!) being substituted with the more subtle metallic hose.
Whatever, the abandoned toilet speaks on several levels. Worth a visit, if only to witness how the most commonplace things acquire a more intense personality once a ruin.
The toilet is hidden beside a hedge, but is easy to locate. Very close to a signboard directing the visitors to the park’s… well, “public toilet”.
Just one more ruin