City Life – Wooden ‘Takhat’ Bed, Outside Jama Masjid, Gurgaon
Our common bed.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is a single wooden bed, but quite broad. It is without a mattress or a bedsheet. No pillow, either.
And this bed is for everyone.
The cot—known as takhat—lies on the footsteps of Jama Masjid in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazaar in the Greater Delhi Region. “This is a place for the public to rest for a while,” explains Mehmood Khan, one of the members of the so-called public sitting on the takhat on this cool breezy afternoon.
A house painter, Mr Khan, dressed in white kurta pajama, patiently articulates the importance of takhat to the area’s hyperlocal society. “These days everything is tera (yours) or mera (mine)… this is my car, this is your mobile… and nothing belongs to both you and I… but here is this takhat that belongs to all of us.”
Soon, another gentleman settles down on the takhat. Muhammed Yameen, a contractor, is sitting with folded legs, his arms spread out on the takhat’s hard wooden surface. He is quietly gazing up at the mosque and occasionally exchanges greetings with passers-by.
It turns out that the takhat is actually the private property of a biryani seller but is treated as “everybody’s furniture”, clarifies Mr Yameen. Tapping on the bare bed, he says it is made from the wood of kel tree “and when it’s very hot the takhat’s unpainted wood secretes oil.”
A few moments later a drunken man stops by the bed. He appears to be a familiar figure. A nearby stall-keeper calmly pours cold water on his head. The drunken man gratefully touches the stall keeper’s feet as if in gratitude. It’s a bizarre scene, but the takhat probably witnesses many of these daily.
Come in the evening and lie down on it with your book of the day.