Wednesday, 28 December 2011

-| ship building |-

| interiors of torn down boat |
picture taken by me 

| Mandvi, Rajasthan | 

We had been to a boat constructing site on the shores of Arabian sea, outskirts of Mandvi Village, Rajasthan. 

Out of the group of 12 people, 10 of us were architects and were very excited about these humongous wooden boats - our heads were just 3-4 feet above the keel!!! 
And the most amazing part was all the boats within our eye-sight were under construction or under demolition. We were able to see all the nuts and bolts with the skeleton of these mobile, floating structures

| anju & me - for proportions |
picture taken by priya k. 

Coming back to the original essence of this post -  We girls weren't allowed to climb one boat which was under construction! Near one boat, we were haggling with these group of men to give us permission to see the interior. But the first 'reason' they gave was - its too dangerous to loiter around. We explained about our nature of work and assured them that we would be careful. Oh huh! Their general and most efficient excuse wasn't going to work with us. We could see their minds working - which excuse should they come up with? Eventually, one young man in red undershirt and black pants comes up and tells us - aap ladke aa sakte hain, par ladkiya nahi! hamara rivaj hai, ladki pair rakehen gi toh ashubh ho ga!

We girls were stunned! He was basically saying that if we, girls, enter their boats while its being constructed they will have misfortune!!!! So the guys amongst us tried to mollify us and asked us to wait while they go for a detailed instructed tour! How unfair ?!?! (Well, we did see the photographs but that is no consolation, especially when you are standing just 10 feet from the boat)

My point here being - even in the age of 21st century, girls and women aren't allowed to do certain things. I was so upset about the entire thing that I decided to do some research and found that its a superstition followed not just in India but all over the world. 

The traditional view for centuries was that women had no place at sea. They weren't strong enough either physically or emotionally. Men would be distracted and led to vice. 

Many people thought that to have a woman on board would bring bad luck to a ship. A terrible storm was bound to destroy the vessel and everyone on it. This was ancient superstition and deeply ingrained amongst sailors as truth. In Suzanne Stark's book 'Female Tars' she tells of an example in the middle ages when sailors gave in to this fear with horrible consequences. At the height of a storm off the coast of  Cornwall, panicking men in a fleet of ships began to throw their female passengers to the sea. Over sixty women were drowned in this way in the hope of appeasing the storm and saving themselves. It failed to work and the majority of men, including their commander, Sir John Arundel, died.

But at the same time, in later years the only woman happily accepted on board by many sailors was the ship's figurehead. These wooden figures in the bow of the ship have traditionally been used for luck for many centuries and were made to embody the spirit of the ship. They were carved into many designs, mainly mythological creatures. From the 1770’s human figures became more frequently used, particularly women. Despite being viewed as unlucky aboard a ship, women were perversely believed to be the best navigators. Superstition amongst sailors said that the female figurehead should have eyes to find a way through the seas when lost, whilst her bare breast would shame a stormy sea into calm. 

Ah well! The hypocrisies of humans! 

From my childhood days I have heard certain things can't be done by girls & women. (Thankfully my parents & grandmother never believed in these things). These 'reasons' are most times veiled excuses - generally having their roots in 'superstitions' . 

Sunday, 25 December 2011

-| child labour |-

Two kids, 4-5 years in age, are quietly sleeping.

 What is the image that forms in your mind when you read this sentence? Two youngsters on a bed with a quilt around them? I would have formed that image as well – until a couple of days back. But now, the picture comes to mind is a very different one.

*This image made realize I should never take anything for granted – this image is not clicked my site but downloaded from net. I didn’t have the heart to click those two kids who were sleeping peacefully while their parents were busy making sure they get their next meal!
** I can’t stop child labor in my country but I make sure that it is not practiced on any of my sites.

Merry X'mas!!!! 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sunday, 2 October 2011

-| phone yawn |-

The act of taking out a cell phone from one's pocket or purse, resulting in other people in the vicinity taking out and checking their phones as well.

i am sure you all must've experienced this or been a part of it (at least i have been ;) ) 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

-| doings |- 

God and nature do nothing in vain.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

-| site visit fiasco |-
  1. First site visit within 15 days of joining new office.
  2. You haven’t met the client.
  3. You don’t know your colleagues very well either.
  4. You are told that you have to help shortlist sanitary-ware items and tiles for 13 bathrooms!!! [Uh- oh] 
  5. You are taken to the site – and find it completely empty!!! [this is bizarre, since construction sites are  generally teeming with people] – Then someone informs that its ‘vishwakarma’ and reason dawns upon you.
  6. From there, you are taken to the area which has ample shops to browse. [Ok girl, pep up! Gear yourself up mentally for a long day ahead]
  7. Shop 1, shop 2, shop 3 – this is good – the client is very clear minded. Knows what he wants and really appreciates our inputs – so far so good!
  8. Then it happens! – Your shoe sole has suddenly and completely gravitated to the concrete road underneath! And you passionately wish that your body has some gravitational force which would urge the sole to pull up and stop at the rim of the shoe! Of course this doesn't happen!!  [you  understand  this is simply a part of your over-active imagination]
  9. You try to walk normal – as normal as you can with your sole doing a flip-flop on its own – and pray hard that you become invisible!
  10. But your Director notices your ‘normal’ walk and you try to tell him with your eyes –“please ignore it”. Since he is not looking in your eyes, he bursts out laughing then after looking at your face, tries to control his amusement.
  11. Meanwhile you are wondering why you are still visible to these mere mortals?!!?! Then the next thought that crosses your mind – Will He forgive me, if I punch my director’s nose just this once?!
  12. Then your director comments to your client how normal it is for all architects to have their boots busted every now and then due to extremely rough usage. And they fall into a discussion of seeing busted boots and makes, etc.
  13. And you privately thank the good God that you didn't punch your director!  [Com’on you haven’t even finished a month in this new office!]
  14. You start hoping for the sun to set so you can return home and to normalcy. But sweetie, that is not to happen until you visit a few more shops and thankfully stop at one cobbler.
  15.  By 3pm you reach the barren site again to do a site chakkar.  [let me point out, whatever the reason, the construction site looks sad and dreadful when you don’t find labourers to give life to them – figuratively and factually]
  16.  You feel human again with sand, aggregate and re-bars under your foot. [I am sure  you are praying that the newly stitched sole holds up the stress] .
  17. Thankfully, you head towards the airport and obviously feel the day won’t have any more surprises.
  18. But it is not so – you are tired with all the happenings of the day and are fast asleep. The air-hostess wakes you up for food and you stupidly fumble with the tray. You have messed up so much during the length of the day that you don’t care what she and the person sitting in the adjoining seat thinks! Blast them!  
  19. Finally you reach your home and confident that you will never have a similar day again – because even if you goof up, it will not be the first time! ;)

Points to be noted:
  • Check your shoes before every site visit.
  • Think before act.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Make sure you don’t wear torn socks. 
  • And lastly, don't let the goof-ups deter you - enjoy them as you always do. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

-| list |- 

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.... ;);)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

-| wasted space |- 

The more compact the better - is today's motto. 

When most people see a plan of a house or apartment, there is a tendency to term all space which is not functionally utilized (invariably meaning "not occupied by a piece of furniture")  as wasted space. Likewise, architectural elements like foyers, ante rooms, passageways and verandahs; in short, spaces that lead to another, providing buffers or gradations in spatial sequences are considered questionable. These are in fact the essence of your plan, allowing it to breathe and communicate without shouting. 

Consider an aircraft toilet. It is perfectly functional. All you need to add is a shower cubicle. But we do not build similar toilets in our houses. This is because each human activity goes beyond the obvious function. Bedrooms are not just for sleeping, dining rooms are not just for eating. Kitchens are not just for cooking. Each of these activities form part of 'living' or 'dwelling', which goes beyond mere functionalism. Reducing the art of dwelling to the sum of these activities results in a mechanical house, perfectly functional in that it has a compartment for each of these activities, but no ‘life’.

So you have a plan with all these compartments. What next ? Hunt for further wasted space within these compartments and convert them into "storage". As a nation we seem to be obsessed with storage space. Any vacant space is used to store stuff. 

Builders build Lofts in apartment bedrooms so that storage space is gained, but at what cost ? Your bedroom is ruined. As you lie in your bed you can sense its looming presence overhead, stuffed with bulging old suitcases and old cartons and what not . Can you not plan a small room, say 1.5 mt by  2.5 mt to keep all the stuff that goes into your loft ? Suppose you are paying a 1000 rupees per square foot for your flat, is forty thousand rupees too much to spend to get an uncluttered, clean house ? Besides you won't need to finish this room that well. Even a concrete floor will do. You will probably spend close to that much on covering up your lofts with hideous shutters anyway ! 

The space which flows under the bathroom washbasin counter, which keeps the room from feeling cramped. Lets cover it up with shutters !  All six feet of it ?  What are you going to store there anyway ?  A hundred bottles of Harpic ? Or perhaps piles of that stuff that makes the water in the potty blue.

And look !  that bed is floating so elegantly in the bedroom over some 'wasted space'. Lets build some storage there so that we can bang our heels against it first thing each morning.   

Ultimately, such houses, far from being living, vibrant dwelling spaces become 'storage spaces' to store you and your family. 

Passing thought: Morning rooms in old bungalows. A space to enjoy the rising sun. To celebrate the dawning of each day ! What could be more essential in a home ? 

-| lines and curves |- 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

-| mails |- 

dear all, 
XXX won't be coming to office today. 
dear all, 
what would you like to order for lunch 
(surprise, surprise)

our office area must be maximum 600 sqft 
that makes us all within 10 ft of each other 
but the space (or lack of it) doesn't stop us from writing mails to each other in the office.
(i am trying to get used to it ...)
why can't i just walk over and let P what i would like to order for lunch ...

i think its the fact that our other office is in boston 
(which makes us international firm - along with some international projects) 
and the fact that my boss isn't here all the time
so for him to understand the pulse of all projects, we write mails!!!! 

you could safely say that 'writing & receiving mails' is the oxygen of our firm 


dear friends, 
please don't be surprised if you find me online for more number of hours everyday ;) 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Monday, 5 September 2011

-| new beginnings |- 

it began today
new job 

new people
new boss 

but some things are the same 
- as you see in any architecture firm,

sketches, working drawings,
materials, models 

passion, hard-work,
vision, race against time

for me it started again today
after a long break

and i am really excited about it! 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

-| travels |- 

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

Neanderthal man walked, someone designed the wheel, the wheels of time turned and the world became a smaller place.
Prehistoric man walked from Asia Minor to South East Asia (good thing he didn’t have a cell phone), thankfully, we have the wheel and horsepower does not depend on how much you feed the horse. Today’s world facilitates travel under all circumstances, schools go for picnics, colleges for study tours and excursions, others for pleasure trips and retiree vacations.
What is the need for travel?  Is it an exercise? Interlude? Or a design cue? It is a power lunch of all. It is your window to the world and the world’s window to you – it makes you wiser, it’s a source of inspiration. To begin with, Travel and understand your own country, its people and psyche. Realise its Colours, food, customs language, script, and art forms. Travel opens new horizons and creates new perspectives in design. Keeping an open mind helps, it allows you to see the “why?” and “how?” rather than the “what for?”
Recording what you see in the form of sketches, photographs, souvenirs, or brain bytes, will create a bank of ready-to -use visuals for the designer. Learning to observe in this way makes the brain more responsive and puts you in a unique place for perception, interpretation and Ideation.
Ah! well - the travel and travelogue continues ......  

Monday, 15 August 2011

-| questions - answers |-

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
The more that you read, the more things you will know.The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go

dr. seuss 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Monday, 11 July 2011

-| since feeling is first |- 

since feeling is first 

who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world 

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says 

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph 

And death i think is no parenthesis 

e.e. cummings 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

-| opening |-

darkness to light...
one door to another ...
openings ....