City Hangout – Cul-De-Sac, Jacobpura
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Undeniably, some words are more intriguing than others. One can spend an entire afternoon thinking of them, uttering them out loud, seeing the image their very mention forms in the mind. Such as cul-de-sac, a blind passage, a street closed at one end. This word evokes a congested bazaar or locality, infinite in its complexities, and yet finite in size.
The Millennium City of Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region, with its gated housing and shopping malls, is no place for a cul-de-sac. But old Gurgaon is another land, and one of the most beautiful cul-de-sacs lies in a forlorn corner of Jacobpura. The neighbourhood is chaotic, but stepping into this dead-end lane is like entering a tunnel of utmost silence. As if instead of being into a mere lane you were wading into a region of calmly void. The very air feels like it has been put to sleep, making you wonder if the time has paused. The rest of Jacobpura seems far, though the road outside is visible with a sluggish flow of pedestrians and rickshaws. This afternoon, nobody outside is turning to glance at this little unnamed lane. A lady in umbrella goes past unconcernedly, oblivious to the beauty in such close vicinity.
One wonders if the passage sees any humans at all. The buildings on both sides look old-fashioned and uninhabited. They seem to be the back portions of the buildings, in fact. The yellow paint has peeled off the walls, revealing red bricks underneath. Narrow water pipes are encrusted with flaking grime. The grilled windows are crocheted with cobwebs—perhaps a work of years, still in progress.
A peepal tree is growing out from the upper portion of a wall. A blue wooden door showcases delicately carved designs. It is locked. The padlock is cobwebbed.
Further on, the lane is shaded by a roof whose parapet spans out into a series of peepholes, an architectural elegance sighted in the havelis of Rajasthan’s Shekhawati region.
The lane ends in 200 steps. You reach the bottom of the bag, just what cul-de-sac means in original French.
The bottom of the bag