Sunday, April 30, 2006

swan lake

the first ballet i saw from beginning to end. they used to show them late at night on dd when i was a kid but i never had the patience to sit through anything. they are such a concept of perfect beauty. gorgeous tchaikovsky theme music that is ringing in my ears. nureyev prancing around in his tights with mournful eye make up. the swan woman was the most beautiful and an amazing dancer.

a russian fairy tale with princesses trapped in the bodies of swans (how come not in the bodies of slugs?); an evil magician and his consort; and a poor prince who dies at the end for the sake of love. aren’t all great love stories necessarily tragic? not that this is much of a love story- just a sketch of a boy meets girl narrative that sets up a framework for many item songs, incessant pirouettes and amazing balancing acts and filler in between. like a hindi film.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

a few colaba restaurants

amit and the bawa regulars at paradise

mario's adam and eve- at paradise

mukul near taj - opposite gateway

samiras heavy heavy interior - indigo deli

me at indigo

the gateway glows in the evening

kuntal at ming palace

mukul and me- ming palace and the city lights outside

a survey of three.

yesterday, had a break in between the forays into urbanism, and in that time checked out samiras ‘indigo deli’ near the gateway of india. all tata ply polished, brass elements and rustic floor. the food was very expensive and the aesthetized “rustic” was maybe a little overbearing- more that a little superfluous- but it is, after all, interior design- and of a very fancy restaurant.

then after the mill land meeting, ‘ming palace’ with an over the top oriental theme and huge windows overlooking colaba causeway. the night lights outside throbbed and there were outlines of the pedestrians as they walked behind the frosted glass bases. the staircase that connected the split levels had rock formations with potted plants carefully arranged with miniature chinese looking porcelain men standing in between. the toilet was incredibly tight- a triangular wash basin?

my mother and father have raved about ‘paradise’ in town ever since i can remember. so the other day after a full days work and samiras office amit, mayuri and me found it and decided to have dinner there. the décor was late seventies functionalism- sunmica tables and rexene seats. the mario miranda paintings about adam and eve that my parents had promised were also there. the clientele were old faithful colaba locals- parsi couples from cusrow baug from just across the road.

urbanism - north to south

yesterday- urbanism overload- from the northernmost tip of the city to the southernmost.

rupali, ninad, paul and me along with robert from holland met in the morning at 8 in front of the national park entrance to leave for mira bhanander where we intend to place the next fourth year design project. its an area that i have always found very strange and interesting- though not at all “pretty” in the traditional sense. lying just outside the bombay city limits and below the bhayander creek that separates salcete island from the mainland; the area has seen a mad rush of development in the past ten years.

i remember the club that we belonged to ‘green court club’ used to have a swimming pool that stood in the middle of desolate farmlands with horizons on all sides just ten years back. today the pool in overwhelmed under towering residential buildings on all sides. the pressures of development coupled with a complete disregard to any kind of building regulations have led to the most weird landscape of towers jostling with each other amid narrow lanes and perfunctory open spaces in between. in between these new residential developments are the old villages and the industrial areas that use the fact that it is just outside the official limits of the city- and therefore is much cheaper. and on the highway- truck stops and garages line the edge, in between which are overnight hotels and ladies bars.

yesterday we went to meet local corporator mhatre who turned out to be quite a character. we met at the bhayander chowpatty which turned out to be a piece of railway land near the railway tracks overlooking vasai fort on the other side. mhatre had taken this piece of land under his control and had turned it into some kind of public space for the residents- and sure enough, we saw many loving couples sitting on benches staring out at the creek but not being able to see anything because the shrubs were too high. still, i shall leave the nit picking aside, and say that it was quite an effort- the resorted and repainted in green and red shed of the railways with neat corner details, the portable toilets, and the obsession with cleaning the water of the creek (people throw offerings into the creek from passing trains) were all very admirable – and like paul said- it is rare to find a corporator so ‘enlightened’.

but even better than all of this were the stories he told us while we sat in a room overlooking the creek and the bridges. i wish i could type in marathi because english will just not be able to communicate the mad rush of brazenly constructed images “in-shirt karun shaanpatti daakhavtoyse kaa” and hilarious insults “dhunganavar laat maroo ka?”. the chatter was non stop and while i smiled and nodded at all the appropriate spots, and ninad and rupali helped along, paul not understanding anything contributed with complete non sequiters and robert just stared blankly and smiled.

quite a guy- and as he would be- quite an egoist and storyteller. the part that really took my breath away was when in the middle of a story about corruption and land grabbing in the area; he whipped up his shirt revealing a dark pot-belly with scars that ran all across it. 45 times- he said he had been stabbed by the builder lobby in the area for standing in their way. the facts he showed us were quite shocking. two drawings that rohit had made while in crit told the story. all land demarcated for public facilities and open spaces had been taken up by builders for development under the benevolent sanction of well-fed bureaucrats.

mhatres office in the local municipal corporation building had halogen lamps that lit him from both sides like a star preparing to go on stage in a green room. a mirror reflected him to himself- and the walls were filled with portraits of inspirational figures, medals and newspaper cuttings about his heroism.

from there we drove like madmen- dropping rupali, ninad and robert along the way and picking mukul up to the bmc building in south bombay – right opposite the cst.

here it was a new design cell project that we were discussing. saurabh, prajna, aditya and prasad and going to begin work on a project that aims to develop a reasonable solution to the madness of dadar station where pedestrians and hawkers scramble for space. the meeting was filled with bureaucrats who were extremely suspicious of the attempt. while it seems reasonable that there be allowed hawkers somewhere near the stations, they insisted that the supreme court verdict (which is a little illogical) that there be no hawking 150 meters from the railway station, be implemented. our task is to make a plan that will make everyone happy. tough. and in two weeks!

the udri mill land lecture was quite the place to be. in the tiny room on the first floor at the max mueller bhavan a hundred concerned citizen of all types- the activists- burnt by the supreme court judgement that so heavily favored the mill owners but refusing to give up; the planners- drily pronouncing new possibilities for negotiation for the city to at least gain something from the fiasco; the architects, carrying turf wars over other projects out in public forums; the citizens groups – environmentalists, mill workers and social workers; the interior designers- who hyperventilated about the “complete lack of any urban design in tehis city. all we are talking about is numbers!”, and the lawyers – coldly and precisely analyzing the possibilities and the impossibilities of the situation. some students wanted a cause to protest, some others wanted to give up the entire struggle. more than once was the state of planning for the city rued and more than once was the idea of creating a holistic master plan for development spoken of.

now the chief minister is to be met. and on monday a human chain to be formed- outside bharat mata cinema. might go.

and this day, only two days after a long meeting at horniman circle with many more ex-bureaucrats and current ones about regulation 33/7 and the crazy pressures its putting on already stressed inner city areas- and the need to create precinct wise development control rules; and one day after designing “feature walls” for a builders offices in bandra.

one day this schizophrenia is going to take its toll.

i just re read this post- maybe, it already has.

column detail from the railway shed at bhayander chowpatty

the view of bushes towards the creek- bhayander chowpatty

the bridges - bhayander chowpatty

mhatre saahab

mhatre office - with the lighted box shoing a dalit woman and ninad and robert

richardson and cruddas on the way to the bmc

gorgeous cst- opposite the bmc

the mill land meeting at max mueller bhavan. big shots.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

baby photographs

rahul and sushmas babys second day out- holy spirit hospital, andheri

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

new phone again

the sony ericsson i bought seems to have suddenly developed major crises. first it was the camera that only shot solarized pictures, then the phone went completely dead only to come alive partially. i am to blame for its failure at least partially because i used it very roughly- but amit, who takes very good care of his sony, also has problems with his joystick navigator- so there.
instead of continuing to limp along with the phone- i dumped the stupid thing and picked a nokia 3230 today- camera and bluetooth. i lost my entire phonebook though. need updates from everyone.

i uncle

rahul- my mothers sisters son- and his wife sushma have just had a baby boy. not named yet, from what i know. shall try and get photos too- tomorrow.

the first grandchild in this arm of the family.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

romeo must die

jet li kicks ass- generally- but not as much in this film as i would have liked. i could have also done with less of the wire enabled flying that seems to be part of every martial arts film.

li is not as funny as jackie chan- but he does not even try to be. instead he is the angry young man- giving intense looks at the camera as he looks for his brothers killers among the chinese and the black mafia of the san francisco waterfront.

was that aaliyah that played the love interest and the black kingpins daughter? she sure looked like she was. there was also that scene where she lip synched while dancing in a club with jet. the action man dancing was supposed to be “cute”.

there was not as much action as i would have liked- too much time spent in developing the hackneyed plot. otherwise, it delivered what it promised- stereotypes, martial arts, racist clichés and a happy ending.

world book day

april 23rd is world book day according to the unesco- i learnt this from my valuable source- the ‘mumbai mirror’ in between masses of inconsequential details regarding pravin and pramod mahajan. (yesterday, on cnn-ibn we were shown the compound wall of the building in which pramod lived with a woman telling us, “this is the compound wall of the building behind which pramod majan lived on the 15th floor. it is behind this wall that his brother pravin shot him”.)

i have decided to get back seriously into the reading habit over the past week since i came back from delhi. it started with lecarre’s ‘the constant gardener’. it is such a pleasure meeting another one of lecarres sophisticated repressed british heroes sacrificing their lives for the sake of love. this time it’s a civil servant who investigates the murder of his wife as she was trying to expose the devious pharmaceutical industry and its crimes in africa. As usual beautifully written and tragic as hell.

With language that is so delicate and precise john bergers ‘g’ was recommended to me by sonal – and we have a copy of it at home that i have begun 3 times but never finished. its one of those books that are beautifully written and observed, but also those need a far greater degree of concentration than i am willing to give right now. i reached further into it this time than i had before, but then started lefebvres ‘the urban revolution’.

its amazing when you find theory that actually starts saying something to you – personally, rather than as an abstract idea that you tend to understand or appreciate. the writing is powerful, extraordinarily analytical and filled to the brim with ideas that are able to somehow comprehend the experience of the city. i have surprized myself by finishing more than half of it in two days- after which I promise myself to get back to ‘g’.

what is everyone else reading right now?

Friday, April 21, 2006

'ivan's childhood'

finally saw the only tarkovsky film i had not.

it happened to be his first ‘ivans childhood’ and also his most straightforward narrative. a young boy insists on being a scout for the russian army and informs them about the whereabouts of the nazis to avenge the death of his mother and his sister. almost conventional in comparison to the later and more obscure work, some sequences did have the allegorical and dream like imagery that i loved so much in ‘mirror’ or ‘stalker’, but, in this film, there did seem rather forced and heavy handed.

still, a better war film than most. brilliant surreal images of a war torn landscape, some extremely moving and disturbing sequences- like the scene in the forest when a female medical officer is being seduced and rejected by another officer, or the end scene set in berlin when we discover the fate of ivan at the end of the war.

shivaji nagar

sonal has left a lot of photographs of her thesis site on the computer. today as i was searching for new wallpaper i found a series of great snaps from shivaji nagar- the slum that lies in between the mandapashwar caves and the dahisar river. in spite of running the danger being romantic i must say that the experience of the settlement is so different when you are walking down the narrow gullies in between the houses- meeting people and navigating through them, than looking at them from windows of the high rises to replace them through the sra. the streets are still not paved in many areas and sanitation is a problem but is the SRA really the only model for developing these areas in the face of a disinvestment jamboree by the state?

55% of the city lives like this and it is a prosperous city. the newspaper today has a huge image of the dharavi redevelopment plan. it looks frightening in its scope and scale- rand. a planned gentrification project if there ever was one.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D

i admit i used to invent superheroes much like the ones in ‘shark boy lava girl’ when i was in the third standard. like max in the film i did have a special notebook where i used to draw them out- the men were all muscular hunks with that rectangular jaw line that makes them so american looking; and the women were oozing out of their skimpy outfits with hair flowing freely down to their shoulders. i used to color them with camlin crayons.

these were all symptoms of my unnatural fascination with all things comic book- especially super hero comic books. the more obscure the powers of the characters, the more i used to enjoy the comics. ‘dial h for hero’ naturally was one of my favorites where a young teenage boy and girl get special watches which they dial ‘h-e-r-o’ and automatically turn into some strange new superpeople. time man/ electric girl/ radar boy/ illusion woman.. whatever.

the stories i used to imagine were never written down- but for that one time that shyam, babu and me invented ‘shivaji bond’ starring rajnikanth. i think shyam still might have a copy that brilliant screenplay. i hope he burns it.

the movie seemed like it was conceptualized by a kid like me with a much larger budget who could afford more than a ruled line paper notebook for his daydream. once the kid had the idea out of his system hollywood studios took all of its silliness and added their particular brand of sickening family feel goodness and cheesy inspirational dialogue("when you dream hard enough your dreams can become reality") and in dreadful 3d to boot.

all in all a very predictable hollywood children’s film- with all the right strategies to sell over the counter miniature plastic replicas of characters and action packed video games.

and since i havent mentioned them this season- in reality talent show recommendations.. katherine in 'american idol' and karunya in 'indian idol'.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

dance bar

the dance bar ban has been lifted. thank god the irritating moral policing that the city government seems intent on pursuing has been put in place at least once.

i remember that one time in another lifetime when i had gone to one of these rather seedy joints in bandra with a few friends. a dance bar right in front of national college with an ornate door with black suited bouncers that gave us the once over before allowing us in.

a room leads to an inner room that leads in turn to another. the first room has darkened corners where the men drink on while the center of the space is taken up by a large raised lighted floor and women catering to every possible desire gyrate distractedly to bollywood remixes. as you delve deeper into the caverns the lighting gets more elaborate and the décor more ornate. the ceiling erupts in baroque flourishes and faux corinthian details in plaster of paris. the walls are all mirrors and there are two upholstered sofa seats on either side of the room with glass center tables in front. two men stand at the entrance of the room to control unruly behavior among the patrons.

the girls here pay a little more attention to the customers. this time there might be eye contact and you might even be treated to a personal performance by a type that might feel attracted to. it would be strange to be attracted to any of them as they seem to all be clichés catering to the strange sexual desires of the indian male. there is the bharatiya nari wearing a white sari who stares into the distance and gives you a huge cold shoulder- whe does not dance she merely floats from one end of the room to the other. the north eastern babe wears the costume of a typical college going girl and is feisty and friendly; there is a folky type, a western type, the mujra type.. every type is present depending on your particular fascination.

the company we kept was a variety of men on tours of the city, gujarati business men on a mens night out, college students getting their testosterone kicks spending dads hard earned money and others like us- curious, afraid and pretending to be quite chilled about it all.

we sat and watched, not exactly leeringly but definitely admiringly as the girls gave us some kind of attention whenever we felt like it- or when the other men flaunted some money at them, whenever they bored of nursing their drinks. we did not have any money to give and it did not seem that it was necessary to do so to be there. the girls do not look at you hile they dance. they stare at themselves in the mirror- you do not exist really. it helps in a strange way to give the odd relationship a little decorom. then there is the other strange ritual- the showering of money note after note on the dancing girl. i had seen it only on screen and it was odd seeing it in reality.

the uncanny – anthony vidler calls it. spaces that lie in the realm of dreams and disturbances- where the ‘deviant’ is allowed expression. desire desires these warped mad spaces within a complex web of sexual and monetary power. to be honest my middle class morality did revolt strongly to the chemistry of the space. the curiousity i had in the beginning led to an embarrassed humour, that soon became boredom and then disgust- with myself for being there. my liberal politics was given a really hard time by my experience. we all quickly downed our one beer and ran out of there with our tails between our legs. pun intended.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


a strange website with some strange images-- like the ones below


People Power
The scale of regions reflects the size of population.


The military objectives of the US Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have created an aesthetic byproduct — a composite photo of the planet, taken during nighttime hours. More than 99% of these representations of actual light sources are indications of human activity on the planet. For example, this image includes more than a million man-made fires, most of them in the Third World, chiefly propagated for agricultural purposes. Population centers are easily identified; however, the amount of light represented here is not necessarily proportional to the population size. Imbalances arise due to unequal electrical consumption. Japanese consume 15 times as much electricity as Chinese per capita, and Americans consume 21/2 times more than Japanese do. This image also illustrates light pollution, a condition only astronomers have complained about so far.

guy maddin : the saddest music in the world' / 'sissy boy slap party' / 'the heart of the world'

guy maddin films are strange and fascinating to watch. mukul has downloaded some of his short films and i saw two of them today. i had also seen part of ‘the saddest music in the world’ earlier and was completely stunned by the visual style and the thoroughly strange story - a beer baroness with a glass leg filled with beer holds a music competition in depression era winnipeg to find the saddest music in the world. her ex-lover who was responsible for her leg being cut and his two rival sons from different parts of the world are competing. somewhere in there the movie managed to touch upon complicated ideas concerning nationhood and war, sexuality and identity- or maybe these themes were completely imagined by me- its very possible. anyway, as a film it was all very strange but brilliant.

the two short films i saw today were hilarious and also very odd. the first was called ‘sissy boy slap party’ and consisted of lots of young men slapping each other as on older man goes on an errand to buy condoms. the other was ‘the heart of the world’ where a love triangle between two brothers vying for the same woman is intertwined with the last days of the earth as it gets a heart attack. i don’t know whetheri understood the intent of either but i was taken in by the black and white, grainy, fast editing and the wild clever imagery. all probably very pretentious but definitely very interesting.

Monday, April 17, 2006

apologia - clarification

it has been brought to my notice by certain friends of mine that my earlier delhi post might seem to be a rather vicious rant on the capital city. i have also been given the impression that it reads as a typical vent of a mumbaikar on delhi. i must clarify my position for all who thought that. i must insist that it was not meant to be either.

i love delhi. i do. it’s a great city- and like all great cities it is weird. it has some absolutely great things and some terrible things - like bombay, which i love and hate equally too.

so sorry to all who misunderstood me. i really did not mean it. i just write clumsily.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


munich typifies everything that goes wrong when hollywood decides to go serious on us. a serious issue- in this case terror and counter-terrorism regarding the israel-palestine conflict- becomes fodder for a revenge action drama. a central hero character is our way into the narrative as he and his group of carefully designed eccentrics murder the alleged masterminds of the munich murders. then of course, as it is politically correct to do, you try and see the ‘other’ point of view by ‘humanizing’ whom you have already demonized. you give them wives and children; make them neighbours and friends. the dialogue is filled with quasi-philosophical ramblings that purport to meditate on the larger issues of identity and nationhood. the words fall like stones- because nobody speaks like that in real life. its all very arch and pretentious. but i don’t think any serious film has sunk lower than when speilberg intercuts a marital sex scene with the explosions of helicopters and the rattle of machine gun fire; all with a overbearing theme music soaring in the background. the murders and the sex climaxes at the same time. and then the wife whispers “i love you” in her killer husbands ears. its unintentionally hilarious and truly stupid- but the only place where speilberg manages something ‘original’.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

mumbai - delhi - not quite lahore - mumbai

metro station - karol baug

sonal in bharats balcony - mayur vihar phase 2

bharat waiting for his work to get done at cp

waiting for visa- pakistani consulate

bharat and his father paintings

rohit sonal yogita nilesh- rohits room

back from failed mission lahore no 1 –. the consulate needed a letter from islamabad- the ministry of interior to allow me to get a visa. so the rest of wednesday (after i had spent monday and tuesday- collecting papers, getting signatures, attestations, addresses, instructions on ways to behave) i spent calling mumbai from delhi for lahore to call islamabad to fax delhi and tell mumbai to tell me in delhi if it was possible that the aforementioned letter would reach in time for me to be able to make this trip. naturally- not.

so here i am back in mumbai, having had a three day sojourn in delhi with bharat and sonal.

but i am getting ahead of myself.. hell was this monday. emotions and events were running high what with the last day of college before exams with students in trauma about not having the notes, of being disallowed, of just being themselves. as there was a collective breakdown of emotional well being among the students and the faculty and i was also trying to get my papers in order to be able to leave on wednesday- and make a presentation of the schools mumbai work. the last straw was being assaulted with valsans piercing stare into my eyes as we sat on the parapet telling me “you have become soft.. or mau .. earlier you were a steel hand in a velvet glove- but now you are like sonal.. soft through and through” i mean really.. the boy has a serious problem. i ran like hell away from this annoying analysis. earlier interesting - at least, the boy has become a bad compilation tape of himself.

the next day was a little better- mahavir jayanti holiday and i took a kingfisher flight to delhi- 10 at night. the girls were all hotness personified- red tight skirts, tightly bound hair ad the stiffest smiles this side of simi garewal. yana gupta went on for a good ten minutes on the monitors showing us sexy ways in which we could wear our oxygen mask. sona and sony (from spa- whom it seems i had met at the varkey forum a few years back at cept) came and picked me up and dropped me into the guest room at the hostel. all i remember from the first night is that rohit who lived next door came and we spoke for a while.

the pakistan embassy is opposite the one for the us of a.. but don’t be fooled by the map- the distance between them is enormous- and terribly boring to walk down. in front of the pakistan consulate there were hordes of families waiting for their visas- they seemed to have slept on the street. there were also men furiously typing out forms for the illiterate. i bought a form from them, stood in line and was soon hanging around in front of the embassy with my entire trip rescheduled. so i take a rick to bharats house. and begin my three days of doing nothing much.

the rickshaw drivers generally in delhi this time were not as unbearable as i remember them to be. once the rate was negotiated upon, it was fine. the entire process of negotiation was, i think, just one of those city cultural things.

bharat lives ‘trans-yamuna’- mayor vihar phase 2. a dda colony of beige and cream coloured two storied houses with a lake somewhere nearby. i got completely confused trying to find my way there. in his house are huge paintings on the walls by his father and a great balcony that overlooks a park. i think i start liking delhi only when i start seeing it through the eyes of people who live there. its all very pleasant and suburban- a nice place for kids to grow up- very sheltered from anything that might be potentially destructive. it’s a way of seeing that i think has determined the plan of the city. the class and identity divisions are so much more stark. the city space is like a diagram of a strict class structure – the avenues of new delhi, the lanes of old delhi, the bungalow plots of gk1, gk2, the dda tracts and tracts of middle class housing and the lal doras and slums somewhere in the middle- generally unseen. the lines in between these differences are so rigid. it was this weirdness that fascinated me about the city. it has a strange edginess that i found disturbing-like these parallel cities are running right next to each other looking inwards- with no connection to the outside. its very strange.. surreal. its like one of italo calvinos invisible cities come alive, enabled by the incredible authority of money and power.

but living in one of these enclaves is very pleasant. walking down eucalyptus lined paths around lakes,conversations in the moonlight and darkness. though it does make each neighbourhood rather self sufficient (complacent?) and peaceful, it does make the most unbearably tedious roads in between them. i cant imagine taking a walk down a city street. a human being walking is an aberration. and in the heat he must be just plain silly.

but then there is the metro. i absolutely loved it. i genuinely believe that it is going to make delhi a great city. it is perhaps the only thing that connects the city truly- shamelessly cutting through all ghettos. it was the only place that i saw a genuine mix of different classes in the same space. its clean, well designed and well maintained. damn good.

anyway, i spent all my time then either in the spa hostel or in bharats house- and in the evenings spent time with rohit nilesh and yogita on one night and at rwitees birthday party where i met all of sonals very sweet classmates.

i went shopping of course.. books at connaught place after wlaking in circles for what seemed like hours; and mor ebooks at the very posh khan market. ‘the constant gardner’.

the flight back was ajet airways late nighter that was even later. i got back home at 3 and slept for hardly any time beofr eoign back to college for a local managing committee meeting.

anyway.. back in bombay for now but only until islamabad tells lahore it has spoken to delhi.. then lahore will speak to bombay and then i leave for delhi again. hopefully the visa thing will happen then.- and then lahore- here i come.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

preparing to leave

preparations are on for my planned trip to pakistan. if things work out, i will be in lahore by the end of the next week. i leave on tuesday to try and get a visa in delhi. all morning i have been collecting all my papers, looking at my suddenly inadequate wardrobe. need to go shopping now.

the runaway jury. the forgotten

why bother to make a movie out of a john grisham novel (or is it screenplay)? watching 'the runaway jury’ is like watching text act itself out on screen- there is nothing 'cinematic' about his charcters, the storyline or even the landscape he is working with. instead we have a parade of hollywood heavweights sleepwalking through the least challenging roles ever imagined. a storyline that follows the usual young smart upstart taking on big business (this time the gun goons of the us of a) by infiltrating and pretending to be able to effect a change in the verdict. it all turns out to be a brilliant set-up (surprize!). watchable enough for the small screen- but never give it more than 17 inches.

in ‘the forgotten’ julianne moore mourns her son so strongly that she is able to resist the brain erasing powers of the aliens who have abducted him for strange experimental reasons. if that sounds ridiculous you should try and watch her wispy american housewife with mournful eyes have those golden tinted flashbacks of the last moments she had with her beautiful blonde boy. she gains her amazing brain cleansing resistant strength from them- like the heartbeat of her boy when he is resting in her womb which makes her remember him even after the expressionless indestructable alien man has twisted the very last memory of "sam" away. the evil alien man is then whisked away by unseen forces into the sky leading to a happy ending with swings and the laughter of children and more golden sunlight.

Friday, April 07, 2006

summer pop

while sonal seems to be soaking herself in hot summer music (see post) , for me it seems like a teen pop revival. the trite emotions of the ballads are making sense, the infectious choruses, just so manipulatively constructed, keep my head bopping. frothy, pink and green music.. according to parul- pink being the color of love and green the color of happiness. even the sadness is so straightforward- “you left me- i cried”.. its all good.

and the happiness.. a world of “oo baby”s and “you give meaning to my life”s “ and losing oneself in a lovers eyes. ah.. such simple things, so true. and you can sing along too.

britney, mariah, whitney, kylie, madonna... bryan, elton, george, enrique.. backstreet boys and n'sync..

i love pop!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

amits admissions

amit has gotten into texas a & m and georgia tech for his construction management course. he is still waiting for replies from carnegie mellon and arizona state that means he will leave in august for two years (at least). i have been recommending cmu and then georgia tech. not very certain about a&m or arizona.. yesterday, after choosing upholstery for the lokhandwala flat we sat together after a long time and talked about his course, the office and lots of other nonsense. i think i am going to miss him. the office is going to need a new imagination.

Monday, April 03, 2006

'pieces of april' . 'eulogy'

been sitting through recent dysfunctional family dramas on movie channels on my day off at home -‘pieces of april’ where a dying mother and the ‘good’ part of the family is one their way to see a wayward daughter in new york city for thanksgiving; and ‘eulogy’ where the funeral of a patriarch brings a warped family together. Saw both of them half way through- but I don’t think it made too much difference as they were totally predictable belonging to genres that they merely rehashed. The first a road movie and the second a , well, dysfunctional-family-reunion-that-ends-in-sentimentality movie.

the first film was better because it at least was not trying so hard to present the eccentricities of the characters as unique selling points. the acting was also better. the second one was truly awful. the very premise of a festival / event being the only thing that binds a family together itself constitutes enough black humor- i don’t think it needed the other clichés to work.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

tu meetings

saturday evenings in the stilt area we have 'tracing urbanism' meetings nowadays- where we all get very agitated and traumatised and confused before deciding to meet again and then heading of to the zunka bhakar for chai. yesterday was saurabhs birthday too.. happy birthday boy!

birthday boy saurabh

prajna prasad

prasad rupali

ninad ateya prajna





prajna ninad ranjit


ubaid makrand dnyanesh


third year juries. blogs and privacy. 'a whistling woman'. baroque modernism

the third year juries went off as expected.. some good work.. some mediocre.. very few drawings were complete and none of the models. the jurors came in all shapes and hair styles, but i really could have done without the hopelessly cynical view of architecture that some of them had. it worried me that students might be influenced by the shallow crass reactionary and conservative ideology that was being propagated through the kinds of criticisms being given. to disparage ‘regionalism’ merely as being non-contemporary without being able to articulate what the concerns of the contemporary are was also immature and silly. some of us were violently angry by these comments, the students were too battered to react in any way, and i was too dazed. perhaps i should have resisted and fought at that time. too bad i did not. i only hope that there does not remain so much to undo. it’s a nice class ( not only because i know some of them might read this blog).

in fact it was just yesterday after the jury that i was discussing the difficulties of blogging as a teacher with siddarth and neelima. every word i say becomes so loaded with meaning – intended and unintended. language is such a double edged sword.

‘a whistling woman’ is the last of the quartet of as byaats novels on the life and times of frederica potter. it ends with so much tragedy and joy. the implosion of utopias, the dialogue between science and religion- the world of art, and all that love. i am going to miss frederica, her son leo, luk, marcus and vincent, daniel and bill, saskia and agatha.. and everyone else.

but back to architecture for a while… why is it so tough to find architects to design a home rather than a furniture museum? The new hyper attentiveness to detail seems more baroque in sensibility than modern. The essential difference between mies and corb. It was in the second year presentation of the swiss pavilion that brought back to me the free joy that characterizes the corbusian approach.. no modular mathematical formula can explain the red shaft of the useless column.