Patna : Near the rubble and city's broken walls

Darbhanga house : from glory to ruins

What makes Rome,  Rome and Paris, Paris?

 “Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” Italo Calvino famously writes in "Invisible Cities."

 As someone who has spent his entire life in the city, exploring its nooks and corners, I often ask to myself and other people, what makes Patna, Patna?

Surely, there ought to be many perspectives, one for each resident and one for each traveller.

                    I remember myself, sitting in one of my classrooms which could have been a room in a great museum or may be a chapter from a history book because of the old fire place in the back or the wooden doors that have stood the test of time.
the windows outside the classroom at Darbhanga house

                                On that particular day, an author had come to speak to us. He had shifted to Delhi perhaps in late nineties and since then, he had been coming back after long intervals.

 we seldom had these visits at Darbhanga house so when the talk begin, i jumped upon the opportunity and asked him about the city and about the changes he sees from his time to our times.
His reply was a simple dull one sentence - " i see a lot of crowd and new buildings."
as boring and discouraging it sounds, it is true to an extent.


With Pawas Neer, a young poet at the restored haveli of Mirza Ghalib
at gali Qasimjaan in delhi 
The beauty of Varanasi doesn't only lie in his famous structures but to an explorer, a traveller, true varanasi also lies in its interconnected alleys, its desolated kabir-chaura grounds,its low ceiling doors with giant and heavy latches.

One doesn't live in Delhi till he can stand on Chandni Chauk and can imagine the red walls of old Delhi  surround him, till the azan reaches his ears, till he sees Mirza Ghalib sitting on a tea stall.

a romantic's dream it may seem but it is possible to an extent in Delhi or Varanasi to be a lennon and our city, as unfortunate as it is , these markers are fast vanishing.
these marginalized structures,insignia of the past, are finally falling to our unawareness.

Orhan Pamuk, the famous nobel laureate, who was born in Istanbul and still lives in the same family apartment where his mother first held him in her arms, writes, “It was in Cihangir that i first learned Istanbul was not an anonymous multitude of walled-in lives - a jungle of apartments where no one knew who was dead or who was celebrating what - but an archipelago of neighbourhoods in which everyone knew each other.”

The same is true of Patna. the apartments  or shopping malls in Delhi or New York for that matter are no different from apartments and shopping malls of patna. they do not define us as a city but these small signia of the past do, they make us unique and in our unawareness, we are destroying them.
 i do not need to give examples but please dare to digest a few.
the temple dome at harisabha, the only signia of its past glory

the old structure of harisabha temple in sabzibag was bulldozed to ground to make place for an ugly shopping mall which protrudes upon the adjacent buildings like a monster with a hungry mouth. the old structure, though not many know was at least one twenty years old with domes made in vishnupur style - a mixture of oriya and bengali architecture.

a similar ill-fate has been shared by the old christian graveyard on ashok rajpath. as hidden as it is to the common eye, - in the name of renovation, it was surrounded by an ugly boundary and is now slowly being encroached upon.  a place of meeting for writers of urdu and hindi in the late sixties to early seventies and even later, it has been a witness to the short-story movement in urdu and "nai kavita" movement in hindi literature.

To a dreamer in our city, the river ghats were perfect escape. while in the name of renovation, ugly structures, with no link whatsoever to denote their belonging to the city  have been built, we have also been losing the river to the new construction in the name of development.
surely, there are other famous examples as well. 


it is not only a diplomatic or political fault.
the purpose of this article is not to play the blame game.

as simple as it is, it is our unawareness which is making us lose our city without even realizing it. the bosphorus makes istanbul istanbul, the boats and churches, venice, venice! a city exists in its own memories and in the memory of those who reside in them. 

                   my first important memories with my father are of boarding a small ship from "mahendru ghat" on a certain monday of "sawan" when a fair was in town and it had rained and near the ticket counter was a tree full of yellow flowers.

we sure all have such unique memories of the city, tiny unimportant bits of no materialistic importance and without any greater purposes but personal and unique, things that could have happened in Patna and not in Paris, Rome, Istanbul or New York.

the question to ask is, what city do i take my son to?

what history, what heritage do i show him?

what memories do i offer him  and what places, where he can revisit and remember me when i am gone?

- Anchit

(Anchit is a poet. The pictures have been clicked by Utkarsh, Satyam and Kautuk)


मील के पत्थर

जब तक आदमी का होना प्रासंगिक है कविता भी प्रासंगिक है - कुमार मुकुल

अपना शहर और रंगमंच

पढ़ते हुए, एक : रंजन बाबू के गाँव में