My city has been changing for a long time. The signs have become visible now. The bare brick roofs in the image above are all over many decades old. The lone white structure to the right is new. There used to be an old toddy palm tree there once, nearly as high as the minaret. It fell down one windy night, and no one planted a new tree in its place. My city does not have many trees. As the old ones go, brick and concrete trees arise in their place.
The densely packed parapeted roof tops are not unique to my city. They can be found in Kasi and in Havana (the choice of the city isn’t random, there’s a story associated) too. There are narrow galis that separate one rows of connected roftops from another. The first parapet to the right is where the rooftop ends and the gali starts.
Pictures of roofs are generally picturesque. They seldom deal with homely things like drying of clothes or pickles. Banarsi roofs are little different. They are an extension of the home-sphere, hence, a totally used space. Many months of long sunny days have made the people of Kasi dependent on the sun. They dry their clothes on their roofs, even in this age of washing machines with automatic drying facility. They remove moisture from wheat grains, paapads, pickles etc. on their roofs.
What’s more, they celebrate their festivals on their roofs too; collectively at times. The image above was taken at Diwali night just as people from the houses whose roofs are visible at the bottom started assembling at their roofs. No sloping roofs for my city, only the broad fully utilizable roofs will do. Or else, where will people sleep on summer nights when there’s an electricity cut?
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