Time, Change and Kasi 2

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The previous post was about urballaghology (pronounced urb-alla-gho-logy) {the study (Gk. logos) of change (Gk. allaghi) in cities (Gk. urb)}. It was about change in the city of Kasi: physical, cultural, social and economical. The physical change in my city is the easiest to observe and demonstrate as it’s in concrete form viz. in streets, buildings, temples, ghatscape, roofscape, Gangaji etc.

The image above was taken from the roof of my paternal house: my home for two continuous decades. I know about the roofscape from house in a much better and more  detailed way than I know the same from any other roof of the world. When I compare this image from 2013 to what my mind has stored from 1993, I find that the whole ochre coloured front, the white wall to the extreme left and the tower to the right with its base are newly sprouted. This whole new facade of the front  roofscape obstructs what once used to be a clear view of Gangaji and its bank on Ramnagar side.

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When we talk of change in the ghatscape (very painful to observe as a kasiphile), what immediately comes to my mind is its heavy commercial use of the buildings on and around the riverfront, and all the changes that originate from there. One of the instances, discussed in this blog already, can be seen by comparing the two images above that are chronologically separated by two year’s time. The white colours of the house to the right was substituted with a garish green shade that does not gel in with the white all around, and the overall prevalence of white in Kasi.

The streets I had known for over two decades, and had expected to find the same whenever I went there the next, had changed just within a couple of years. Not far from my house is the road that leads from Sonarpura to Shivala. Nearly mid-way, to the right, if one went down the slope, used to be the long, white-washed front of an old house. It had been there since as long as I remember. On one of my return trips, after a gap of a couple of years, while i was passing from the spot where that house used to stand, I found Vishal Mega Mart instead.

No, I am not anti-modernization and all. We do shop at Vishal Mega Mart and it provides the much wanted competition to other such chains, thus benefiting the consumers. There must be such places at every neighbourhood. Only, they should not come at the cost of changing the places beyond recognition. At least, not the habitual and reassuring look of the streets and buildings.

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