Home Sweet Home – Chacha Jan’s Unauthorized Home, Vasundhara
Inside the walls.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One day his home was there, as always. Today, it’s not there.
That unauthorized makeshift dwelling was the only constant in this ever-changing middle-class neighborhood in suburban Vasundhara. Known simply as Chacha Jan, or Dear Uncle, the elderly man had arrived in Vasundhara in 2000. Situated beyond the eastern edges of Delhi, the area was then uninhabited. His shack was the only structure here. Today, we have dozens of apartment blocks here, each with its barricaded gate.
And in this portion of precious real estate, Chacha Jan’s improvised abode had been allowed to survive for so long.
The Delhi Walla once documented his house, little knowing that it would soon be history.
A native of western Uttar Pradesh, he lived here alone. Made of plywood planks and blue tarpaulin sheets, Chacha Jan’s house doubled up during the day as his teashop, mostly patronized by the area’s security guards and, in the morning, by newspaper vendors.
It was dark and musty inside, a naked lamp the only electric equipment.
The furniture consisted of a wooden table, a chair and a single narrow bed, over which hang a mosquito net. A clothesline was strung across the room. Three jars of biscuits were placed beside a calendar.
A bench outside the entrance offered seating facility to Chacha Jan’s tea-drinking customers.
Talking of his residence-cum-stall, he had told me, “One day the authorities may ask me to clear off. I will then go to some other place.”
Well, last month the authorities cleared off his home. Hopefully, Chacha Jan has set up new roots elsewhere.