By Priyanka Bhowmick
‘‘I found many treasures in the woods over the years: shotgun shells, empty Colt 45 bottles, old railroad spikes, orange and black beetles eating a dead mouse, pebbles that looked just like teeth, old stone walls and cellar holes, a rusted frying pan, the skull of a cat…’’
If you carefully read the above lines and contemplate over them, you will understand that the feeling of treasure is inscribed over each and every word. Similarly, Guwahati-based vintage art collector Pickloo Deka has an intense affectionfor the treasures he has collected and preserved over the last many years. Located way from the hustle and bustle of Guwahati city andspread across the remote forests of Tepesia in Sonapur, lies a vintage paradise called ‘Treasured Wheels’, which is a unique center-cum-musuem for vintage collectibles.
The Entrance to Treasured Wheels
Last month, our PCA group decided to visit ‘Treasured Wheels’ and enter into a conversation with Pickloo Deka, who is the owner, caretaker and collector of all the vintage stuff he has been collecting and preserving over the years. And once we arrived, we were not disappointed.
Right from the early part of the 20th century, we found a rare collection of watches, cameras, motorcycles, cars, bicycles, radios, and lotsof other stuff which arenot to be found in today’s age. Pickloo Deka has been painstakingly collecting and preserving these vintage items in his farm-cum-museum for more than three decades now. The park, Treasured Wheels, has been opened for public viewing in recent times. As soon as we entered the park, we were greeted with the sights of rust-filled car bonnets, broken headlights, a vintage petrol pump and torn car seats which scream silently to tell stories about their glorious past and heritage.
In Conversation with Pickloo Deka
“I had a wild fascination for old things that people usually discard as scrap material,” says Pickloo. “Thirty years ago, I saw the first vintage car in my life and the same had been abandoned by a businessman in Dibrugarh. I collected the car as the first item in my musuem.” He continues,”Since that time, collecting such rare and old gems becamethe primary goal in my life. I started assembling such things and kept it in my farm here. Thankfully, I was lucky to receive the support of well-wishers who helped me expand my collection by donating similar discarded vintage stuff.”
For Pickloo, life has not been easy as he had to sacrifice a lot of his personal career and familial life to collect these old memorabilia. “I am an ordinary person, just like anyone of you. I don’t have my own house and all that I earn have been spent on maintaining these treasures and collecting them. I don’t believe that building my own house will make me rich. After all, I cannot take my earthly possessions with me after death. All the things I have preserved over the years are notonly mine, but they are yours also as well. So it’s also your responsibility to protect them,” says this die-hard collector of vintage items.
But as mentioned, the going has not at all been easy for Pickloo. He had assembled all his collections in a piece of land in the remote forests of Tepesia with the hope of starting a museum someday. But unfortunately for him, the administration, unable to fathom the magnitude of his project, served him a land evacuation notice to remove all his possessions from the land. This, despite the fact, that he had legally purchased the land to preserve these vintage collectibles. Somehow, lady luck shone on him and he continues to maintain his land and museum of preserved antiquities till date.
Collecting vintage pieces of art is not an easy job and requires a lot of patience as well as a lot of money for their purchase and maintenance. If Pickloo had so desired, he could have easily traded all his antiquities for a fat amount of money and lead a luxurious life in the city. But for Pickloo, his passion for collecting these items far overshadows any thought of money or financial gain. As he says, “I could have left collecting these antiquities and led an easy life. But I have not preserved these items for fame or money. My only motive is to collect these antiques and scraps and recycle them for a green living.”
Treasured Wheels: The Farm
Treasured wheels is a North-East heritage foundation where there are about 60 cars, 54 motorbikes, 10 bicycles, 20 wall clocks, 32 watches, 5 gramophones, 5 radio sets, 5 fans, a vintage piano and a voice recorder. And they are all entirely antiquated stuff. In this day and age of technological advancement when all musuems operate with the latest in technology, this vintage paradise provides an altogether different experience for denizens of the city.
Between the lush green trees of Tepesia Forest and Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary, amidst a totally natural environment, one can experience the essence of age-old antiques that still lie to tell their primordial stories.
Pickloo says, “I have not collected these items to become rich and look after myself and my family with the money that these items could have brought. I wanted to showcase them in a museum in this gateway city of Northeast India, states Pickloo. Treasured Wheels was started in the year 2001.
Moving away from the antiquities, the farm of Treasured Wheels is also a sight to behold. Spread over a hill interspersed with two ponds, the place is a collector and vintage lover’s delight. The entire farm runs on natural energy and does not have any provisions for electricity. While small houses have been built on top of the trees scattered all over the place, all the tree houses use solar energy to take care of the energy requirements of the place.
As Pickloo says, “We have built treehouses for visitor to halt and enjoy their stay in Treasured Wheels. But we do not use conventional forms of energy. And everything in the farm is made up of used and recycled stuff and runs on solar energy, except for the brick and cement structures.”
A Place of Pride
And for people wishing to visit this unique farm, Pickloo has a piece of advice, “All I want to say is:Please help Treasured Wheels attain the worth it truly deserves. Because, its only us who can appreciate these rare historical gems and make the farm a place of pride for the State as well as the country.”