Delhi Homes – Windows of Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti & Elsewhere
That opening in the room.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
With an upsurge in extreme weather conditions, along with pollution, smog and dengue mosquitoes, most of us are obliged to keep our household windows curtained and shut. The window now invites notice only while booking a seat on a plane or train, or while reserving a room in a resort. The household window might as well become obsolete, if not extinct. Here’s a brief citywide selection.
1. This small room at Old Delhi’s Haji Hotel belonged to poet Aamir Dehlvi, who helped manage the hotel. Its plain window shows the grand Jama Masjid, along with a bit of the sky (with birds in it). The window is designed in such a way that it does not show the surrounding architectural clutter and bazar chaos. This makes the monument look more serene than when experienced from the street. The poet died early this year. His room remains locked, the window latched.
2. This wall-sized window spans the entire length of Paridhi Narain’s west-facing living room wall, at a sixth-floor apartment in Ghaziabad’s Sector 6 in Vasundhara. The panoramic sheet of glass overlooks the facing flats, their capsule-like balconies, and the highway traffic in the distance. The view makes everything look ant-like, trivial. The exception is the Sahibabad station of the Regional Rapid Transit System, inaugurated weeks ago by the Prime Minister. The new station is so huge that it appears like an ocean liner stranded in a misty sea, which of course is the Delhi smog.
3. Boutique owner Naseer-ul-Hassan’s bedroom window looks directly down at Old Delhi’s Chitli Qabar Chowk: the biryani sellers, the balloon sellers, the flowers sellers, the paranda sellers, the fish sellers, the pedestrians, the bikers, the battery rickshaws. Straight ahead is the long street, carpeted out all the way to Tiraha Behram Khan. The non-stop sounds of the hyperactive chowk streams inside the home 24/7, even when the window is shut. The household’s older members longingly recall the vanished chhat (terrace) that was rebuilt into this bedroom and its window.
4. A sex worker in GB Road red light area, she shares her living arrangements with other women in a second-floor establishment. It has no road-fac- ing window, but a tiny circular opening in the kitchen shows parts of a back-lane. She sometimes peers through it while making chai, she says. (For “fresh air,” she goes to the rooftop terrace where she can see as far as Connaught Place)
5. This is the third-floor bedroom of “heritage explorer” Aamir Ahmed, which he shares with wife, Ummi Abbasi, and their children Amaira, Arqam and Sehram, in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. The window opens to a most unusual view. See photo.