July 1st, Ho Chi Minh City – 76 Hai Ba Trung – After a fire that started in an picture framing shop*, a large part of the house of where former Indian National Congress leader and then Second Imperialist World War (WW2) Indian National Army leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose last stayed in Saigon was severely damaged. (There’s Vietnam.net news footage below, after my photos). All of the roof seems charred and some metal structural supports are in place and most of the right side part of the building – largely separate – is gutted. The left side of the building seems to have intact rooms, though the roof is clearly all fire affected. I don’t want to pry, but its possible to see from the street, despite a flimsy wire barrier, some important family materials were lost – you can see the charred remains of a framed picture of a deity among that wreckage.
There had been in the past calls for the Indian Government to do smething to preserve this important site of heritage significance, though no doubt controversial for some.
* no coincidence at all that my first trade was as a picture framer
Admittedly, my camera skills failed here today, as it was peak hour traffic on a busy road, so I did not have time to check or to climb over the barrier to get a better shot. Not even sure I should – there are personal effects here perhaps. Still, not identifiable at least in my dodgy images (Huawei, no filter)
The right side of the building is pretty much wrecked as we see here. The roof of the main part of the hours seems saveable, or at least a new metal support exo-skeleton has been fitted. No doubt many original fittings and fixtures have been tragically damaged beyond repair.
Happily the back of the building seems to have largely been spared, and today – 6 weeks after the fire, the driveway is still a thriving street food spot, with at least 6 different vendors and a dozen or so 4 seater tables providing alfresco, smokey aroma, dining.
For Subhas though, it is a major setback as he was promising to return to live here soon, or so ‘they’ say.
75 years of Indian independence suggests it is time for the India Govt to step in and fund a restoration.
See here for earlier Subhas in HCMC posts: