City Home - Faqir Chand Household, Khan Market

City Home – Faqir Chand Household, Khan Market

City Home - Faqir Chand Household, Khan Market

End of an era.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Its over. The last of the old Khan Market is gone. A pivotal event concerning India’s most upscale shopping destination took place quietly, some months back. Khan Market’s last remaining shop owners who still had their home in the market have moved to Defence Colony. The Bamhi family that runs the landmark Faqir Chand bookstore in the market’s front lane sold their residential flat in the middle lane—no. 59—in October. Their Khan Market home is history, their shop continues.

The bookstore’s owners were living in Khan Market since 1951, when the market began with 154 shops and 75 flats. The shops were on the ground floor, the flats on the first. Till the 1980s, all the flats were homes. Gradually, commerce crept up the stairs. Most families moved out after selling or renting out their homes. The drawing rooms, the bedrooms, the kitchens, the courtyards transformed into cafés, restaurants, bookshops, showrooms. A survey this year revealed Khan Market as charging the “highest rent among high street retail locations in India.” A once neighbourhood market is today left with only five residences (flat nos. 25, 54, 56, 63, 74). And with the exit of the Bamhi household, there is no longer any Khan Market shop dukandaar with a Khan Market makaan. The age of “neeche dukan, upar makaan” has ended.

The Bamhi couple (see photo), who administer the bookstore with son Abhinav (older son Abhishek is an executive in Gurgaon), do feel sentimental about the shift, but are happy for granddaughter Aradhana, who at four was the market’s youngest resident. Now she has “more playgrounds to go to, and Dr Radhakrishnan (the KG grade student’s new school) is just across the road from our home,” says Mamta Bamhi. Her husband, Anup, remarks that their new address is thankfully far quieter than the old, where the market sounds wouldn’t subside until 2am.

Although their kitchen window faced the fashionable Cafe Turtle, the couple’s flat was one of the few relatable spaces in the posh market. Their dining table would have Harvest Gold bread and Kissan Mixed Fruit jam, not some fancy baguette or imported raspberry preserve. This evening, the staircase door to the flat—said to be in the process of being turned into a commercial space—is locked.

In Defence Colony, life has come with an unexpected revelation for the family. “When we shut our shop and return home,” says Mamta Bamhi, “it truly feels like hum ghar aa gaye (we’ve come home).” Her son Abhinav, whose 3-year-old popular Instagram handle is called @myhomeiskhan, meanwhile asserts “my home is still Khan. I just sleep in Defence Colony.”