22
Apr
11

Going, going…

“There are eyes everywhere. No blind spot left. What shall we dream of when everything becomes visible? We’ll dream of being blind.” – Paul Virilo

Even though, my parents had a house at the Railway Staff College, Lal Baugh – my Baroda (as it was known then), address in the early Seventies was, ‘44 Pratapgunj’ – where I had a large room on the first floor and paid the princely amount of Rupees One Hundred per month as rent, inclusive of electricity charges.

Never did I imagine that nearly 41 years later, I would be witnessing the slow death of the retreat that was Pratapgunj.

Those days, Pratapgunj was a copiously wooded area with large bungalows peeping magnificently through Neem  (Azadirachta indica)  trees or Limdo as it is known in the Gujarati language; Yellow poinciana (Peltophorum pterocarpum); Indian Laburnum/Amaltas   (Cassia fistula); Common Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica); Tamarind/Imlee (Tamarindus indica) and Banyan/Vad (Ficus benghalensis)……but it was mainly the Limbdo that ruled. I remember, once, I was helping a group of architect friends conduct a survey [1974 – 75?] and we had counted over 187 Neem trees between Adyapak Niwas and Natraj Talkies.

All images (except the BW/Sepia), were taken in the year 2009. Since then, more bungalows have been razed to the ground, more trees cut and new high-rise apartments created.

Aldo Leopold has rightly said that, “The oldest task in human history [is] to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.


2 Responses to “Going, going…”


  1. 1 mustardseed
    April 26, 2011 at 4:16 am

    It is so painful to see these pictures. But this is the reality of the city. Pavanveers are taking over. This article in TOI partly sums up the reasons.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Luxury-flats-define-comfort-for-Vadodara-elite/articleshow/597323.cms

  2. 2 sacredfig
    May 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    20 years ago, ours was among the first multi-storey apartment complexes to be built over what used to be a nice old bungalow…We moved into Pratapgunj towards the end of its heyday. I remember playing ‘haunted house’ around what is now ‘Manorath’ (that one bungalow had so much land around it that it made for an apartment complex AND row houses) I also remember Pratapgunj garbas from about 5 years before that – when it was considered one of the most ‘happening’ garbas in the city.

    On the one hand, I’m glad that my family and others like us had the opportunity to afford a life in such a lovely neighbourhood- which would not have been possible if it wasn’t for this policy of buying bungalow plots and dividing their ownership by 24 or 32 or whatever.
    And of course, on the other hand, I hate the fact that builders caught onto the trend and destroyed the neighbourhood! Everyone from the city government to the builders/architects/contractors to the consumer is to blame really – for not having laws or planning guidelines to maintain the good aspects of the place, for excessive greed in making the most number of houses on a plot, for sheer lazy design, and neglecting the inherent character of the neighbourhood, for chopping down trees to have a place to park their concrete mixers/tankers by the roadside, and for paying through their noses for all the crap mentioned just now.

    Maybe in a couple of years, we can do an obituary together?


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