Hyderabad: One thing that the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic took away from people was access to public spaces, and the city’s iconic cultural centre, Lamakaan, was not insulated from it. It has been nearly a year since the pandemic in Hyderabad, yet Lamakaan remains closed, and the situation is likely to remain the same for some more days to come.
While there is no official word from its management (trust) on when Lamakaan will reopen, there are chances that it might begin parcel services of its canteen, which is known for its affordable yet delicious snacks and food. A source from Lamakaan, who did not want to be quoted, said parcel service may begin from February, and that the cultural space itself might reopen from March. However, this is still not certain.
Last year, Lamakaan’s management decided to not conduct its events in March, during its anniversary month, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Post the lockdown that was imposed, even as places began opening one-by-one, Lamakaan continued to remain shut. Many in the city are eagerly waiting for the space to reopen.
However, it is no surprise that the management fears that any kind of crowding in that space might cause in the infections spreading. The closure of Lamakaan has meant that Hyderabad is missing its round-the-clock cultural and political discussions, many of which the cultural space used to host. Known for being a liberal space, it has essentially been a platform for artists, and also served as a centre for engaging discussions or subjects ranging from politics to current events.
“For me, the only got to place, in the centre of Hyderabad, has always been Lamakaan. It hosts political discussions and also has some very good cultural performances. The fact that it also has affordable food is a very important thing, especially for those who can’t afford to visit fancy cafes,” said Yacoob Patel, a youngster from the city. Like him, many others are still waiting for Lamakaan to open up.
Pre-COVID-19, Lamakaan had hosted a series of events while protests were ongoing against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which drew lakhs of protests from people around the world. It also held a discussion on the National Register of Citizen (NRC) that is being carried out in Assam.
Started in 2010 by friends Ashhar Farhan, Humera Ahmed, Elahe Hiptoola and Biju Matthew, Lamakaan is now a place that one looks to for meaningful discussions on important subjects. It could also be considered as a precursor to co-working spaces we have in Hyderabad today.