City Landmark - Empty Field, Ghaziabad

City Landmark – Empty Field, Ghaziabad

City Landmark - Empty Field, Ghaziabad

Space in suburbia.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Something serving as a relief from what is usual—this is a more evocative dictionary meaning of ‘oasis.’ Technically, the word refers to “a green area in desert.”

Zila Ghaziabad is no desert. It is full of trees and a river (hello Hindon!). This unique sight however closely matches the idea of an oasis—something rare is interrupting a sequence of customary scenes.. Here, a vast empty lot is managing to survive in the middle of multi-stories, and is marked with two trees. The smaller tree is lit up in yellow. It is Amaltas, whose flowers have lately started to bloom for the summer.

Delhi has far superior places to see the Amaltas in blossom, but this place ought to be commemorated due to its extreme fragility. The two trees might or might not last in the coming time, but this vacant expanse certainly won’t.

Until a few years ago, the area was full of such emptiness, with occasional housing towers. Now the area is full of housing towers with occasional islands of emptiness. This field—aka ‘plot’– speaks for all the similar fields in the Delhi region that are are being swallowed by the real estate builders. Wandering on the muddy ground brings us close to the good earth of Ghaziabad as it used to be before it was carpet bombed by the gated citadels of residential welfare societies.

Flanked by multi-stories in the distance, the field is sometimes treated by the area’s housing tower citizens as a neighbourhood getaway. On a recent afternoon, it was hosting a tournament of amateur cricketers. Another day, two lovers were cuddling under the Amaltas. This afternoon, nobody is here, maybe because it is too hot. Although some steps away to the right, a few cows are lounging amid tall grass. Weeks ago, a shepherd was grazing his huge flock of sheep in that same corner (he later herded the cattle through a busy road, past the multistories).

Not far away was another similar piece of vacant field. During a monsoon afternoon, the brief heavy showers birthed a large puddle in the ground. As the half-overcast sun dipped out of sight, a lone pinkish cloud rained its reflection into the puddle, kindling the stagnant rainwater into a pit of volcano lava. The sight was thrilling. It will never be repeated. A multi-storey condo stands there today.