City Landmark – Dharmender Kumar Soni’s Goldsmith Workshop, Nai Basti
Of slow time.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
So tiny, so pretty—these objects, piled up on the mantlepiece. While a large wooden board adorned with an array of rings and pendants invite a second look for their delicate craftsmanship.
Here’s a shrine to dainty beauty located in the Millennium City of Gurgaon, but feels eons away from its prosaic modernity. Immersed in utmost quietude, this workshop in Nai Basti runs on the twin wheels of slow time and sustained concentration. Here you get customised lockets, rings, and necklace pendants handmade by Dharmender Kumar Soni, the goldsmith, or the sunar.
An excessively courteous man in his 40s, Mr Soni talks of “these tough times” and passingly mentions that “like many others, we suffered in the (pandemic-ridden) lockdowns…our business is yet to return to its normal level.” He becomes less sombre when the conversation turns to the nature of his work—“When you want to build a house, you first get its map drawn by an architect…well, I’m that architect for lockets and rings, and I’m also the builder who constructs the house.”
The solo-room establishment is mostly taken over by a hefty metallic apparatus that Mr Soni refers to as ‘press.’ “It’s more than 50 years old and indispensable to my work.” An earthen angeetha, or stove, is another curiosity: it is employed to “heat and expand the metal.” The business was founded by Mr Soni’s father, Shri Chhoturam, a retired fauji (army man), who operates a similar workshop in Gandhinagar neighbourhood.
This afternoon the goldsmith is sitting cross-legged on the floor, immersed in the world of his work. The place is imbued in a silence so vivid as if it were an invisible substance filling up the air. You feel transported to a time when there was no mobile phone, and people were obliged to interact exclusively with things that were physically around them.
While nosing around in the workshop, a visitor must remember to ask Mr Soni to show one of his designing boards (see photo)—the metal sheets containing samples of his designs. They stand out like works of art. The shop opens daily from 9am to 8pm. It lies close to Rohilla sewing machine store.
PS: The sunar has two college-going sons who might not carry forward his legacy. “One of my sons wants to be a pilot, another wants to be a property dealer.”
Little den of beauty