Fading Frames — Old Signs of New Kashmir
Beyond the blitz created by the ongoing brush strokes, Srinagar is changing and so are its signs which once made it a pulsating city.
At the farther corner of the Poloview street where an artist crew lately arrived to paint a parking lot into a leisure junction, a signboard of Kashmir’s genuine craft is silently fading. The sign makes it certain that a collective sense of amnesia has gripped the city which once took great pride in its craft character. But now, as it’s losing its vintage signs, Srinagar is becoming a shabby showpiece being played ‘smart’ to galleries.
Beyond this poetic lament lies a searing sorrow of unfamiliarity — the sense of brushing the old reality with the new one. Those who grew under the shade of the city’s familiar vibes call it the undoing of the heritage. The blatant feature of this city makeover is the fading of old signs.
The classic pièce de résistance is one of the remaining signboards that Srinagar now carries. It stays classic to the eyes when a tussle between trends is going on in town.
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On the bumpy Bund, this sign is telling some other story. Although not so ancient, it makes many believe that things are fast becoming irrelevant in Srinagar, the city at the center-stage of new arrivals and additions.
Given its restrained reality, the city’s in-house brands have now developed the ragged reality.
In the new scheme of things, even Lady Rose looks withered and woeful on the wall.
And that stark message which threatened to unsettle the so-called “male ego” is now fighting for to-be or not-to-be appearance.
In the sweeping make-believe change, these old neighbourhood signboards have now become quite a rarity. Their culling has taken away the very semblance they would create in the city pockets.
And those classic boards once wooing the hipsters of the west are hanging overhead as some discarded signs of past now.
In the pitched battle between graffiti and anti-graffiti, some wall signs are now struggling to keep pace with the times.
This sign-squall is also obscuring, as finesse and fashionable symbols have come to dominate the scene.
The transformation is quite mechanical, even overwriting some hand-written billboards.
This wall and these symbols have largely outlived their utility now.
The wooden electric pole in Kashmir would host many things including some stark signs. But now, they neither make such poles nor those signboards.
The shop-shutters painted with occupation used to be quite a thing, but now even they’ve become a passé.
And this telling name would be a busy shop for the obvious reasons.
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Mumin Gul is a documentary photographer and multimedia journalist based in Kashmir. His focus mostly lies in long-term photo projects. He is currently a multimedia intern at the Mountain Ink.