City Landmark – Old Building, Sadar Bazar, Gurgaon
The lost world.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The street is teeming with market people. The street-side is taken over by two tailors. They are mending torn suitcases. More of such damaged suitcases are piled up behind them.
But who will mend the damaged building (see photo) further behind?
On a closer survey, the building turns out to be as haunting as a lost world. Staircases are going up to rooms that no longer exist. The cobwebbed niches on the walls joyfully stare into the air, like an eternal grin of skulls. Some parts of the house appear to be made of lakhori bricks, the building material of yesteryear.
This ruin is in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region, considered to be the land of office high-rises and shopping malls. This house is very old, remarks a rat poison vendor hawking his ware. The building is obviously abandoned. No human can live in it, here in Sadar Bazar, just opposite a much-loved sweet shop (who hasn’t heard of the famous Sardar Jalebi!). Squirrels are running about the fallen bricks. A black cat darts across and instantly disappears from view. An all-knowing shopkeeper in the vicinity once gossiped some stories about the landmark, but you don’t need to bother with telltales. A connoisseur of the city street is required to simply gaze upon the dilapidated structure from a polite distance, and imagine the extinct house’s daily life that must have played out within — the celebrations and deaths, the happiness and grief.
Today, the roof is gone and the broken walls make the place resemble a tatty book with missing pages. The innards of the residence lie exposed for all the world to ogle at. Discarded plastic bags adorn the rubble. The only element that seems to show some bit of sympathy to the building is a giant neem. Its sprawling branches are reaching out to the vastness of the untended concrete like a protective parent wanting to embrace the unlucky child.
One day, these remnants might be replaced with a smart modern building, designed after contemporary aesthetics. And then this place as we see it today will go out of our mind, as if it had never been.