City Landmark – A Vanishing Old House, Jacobpura
A disappearing souvenir.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
History-minded Instagrammers must urgently walk down Old Gurgaon’s mohallas, in the Greater Delhi Region, to snap and upload the photos of all the long-time buildings that are gradually vanishing. Maybe, an archive can be built of the way this world used to be.
Take this old house in Jacobpura, for example. It used to stand intact with its arches, courtyards and weather-beaten wooden doors. This afternoon, it is being dismantled. It was lying abandoned for some years; the owners had moved out.
“A new building will come up in its place,” reveals the gentleman supervising the demolition with a team of migrant labourers from Jhansi.
The bricks that made up the roof are piled up in mounds on the dusty floor. The walls that constituted the many rooms of the house are still standing, but they will soon be pulled down. For now, it is easy to discern the layout of much of the house. This place must had been the drawing room, since it lies by the front door. That small chamber with shelves must have been the kitchen or a store. That big room… Oh! it is now just a pile of bricks.
The wooden ledges of the doorways are holding on for the moment. So are the taaks, the niches scooped into walls that were once a necessary element of domestic architecture. The house is otherwise bare of all furniture and upholstery, except for some shirts hanging from old-fashioned hooks. “These are of the labourers,” explains the supervisor.
The erasure of old houses may be an irrecoverable loss to a neighbourhood’s hyper-local history. But the locality gains something new in the process. The house is to be replaced by an apartment complex, a person living in the vicinity reveals.
Even so, this particular stretch of Gurgaon is still speckled with very many structures that resonate with the early decades of the previous century. Some of these mansions are remarkably well-preserved and continue to be living homes for the time.
You ought to do a walking tour of this area – not to mourn the passing of old aesthetics, but to witness the transformative shift our dynamic metropolis is undergoing.
Going with the wind