Monday, March 31, 2008
devika's sound box for chants
vishal's graveyard of princely states
apurva and her model of the museum that changes every minute of the day
maitri's mad models of the monks' rooms of their own
nikhar's exhibition space/ landmark
nupoor choreographing a confrontation between the memorabilia of the tourist and the memories of the locals.
kairav housing the monks
vyoma revealing the palace
samarth widens the stair into an amphitheater
sifa contracts and expands space in a spiral
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
after 10 years, give or take a year or two, i stepped unwillingly into a gym again today. skinny as i was then and incredibly self conscious about it, i was terrified of the intense machismo and embarrassed by the unabashed narcissism that the space indulges and encourages. at that time, my shyness , and i must admit- laziness, kept me going for less than a month. my company being rohit and john – off and on. but now, with my back absolutely killing me with all the driving and a general feeling of anxiety regarding my health ( i might be getting prone to the habitual hypochondria of an old man), i took the plunge into the testosterone heavy air of the local gym) and today was different. perhaps i have grown so much older than the instructors that they don’t threaten me anymore. their jokiness extends the relationship to an odd sort of camaraderie, their winks and pats border on an amused flirtation. middle aged women sweat away in between the black foam clad machines, black rubber and plastic move in arcs and circles, tough young men wince in front of the mirrors at their bodies- pulling in their stomachs and pumping iron, older potbellied bodies sweat profusely making dark stains on t-shirts, legs move in rhythms reflected and re-reflected in an endless corridor. a skinny young boy with gold dyed hair and a earring wearing blue rexene sweatpants and a black and yellow striped t-shirt looked adoringly around at the bodies of the men, each of whom he yearned to become. today was cardio day. as i walked on a rolling rubber mat heading nowhere i looked out at the parked motorcycles and two wheelers leaning against the trees and the evening walkers- hand in hand or shopping bags in tow.
all the airbrushed and admittedly rather enjoyable sweetness of teenage pregnancy in juno fades really fast and hard 5 minutes into 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. in the film an illegal abortion is being sought by a girl along with the help of her roommate in a
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
revisiting one of my favorite albums from the 80’s i am still stunned by its brilliance. mired in smutty sultriness that is not so velveteen that it does not collect grime, prince indulges himself by playing a version of his own past, complete with freudian allusions and hot women in underwear. the songs are electrifying- ‘lets go crazy’ with its scorching guitar and with prince as priest (what kind of church is this?), ‘when doves cry’ which has to be one of the best choruses written, ‘purple rain’ and its epic ambitions; and my favorite couple of songs ‘ the beautiful ones’ (“will hurt you every time") in which he takes the beauty of sadness and tears it opens with the terror and anxiety inside; and ‘darling nikki’ – a one night stand featuring a hotel lobby, aphone number on the stairs and some serious grinding. even what can be seen as filler is great - ‘baby i’m a star’, ‘i would die 4 u’, ‘computer blue’ and ‘take me with you’- are funky and fabulous. and what’s the music without the presence of prince himself- his royal sexiness himself.
Monday, March 24, 2008
complicated questions are raised when looking at the work. while the exhibition consists of such jaw dropping oddnesses like 'what is the form of artificial meat? how can we imagine the new toys for children with artificial skin?'; there also more complicated ethical issues being debated. is there romanticism possible in the when the natural exists only as a simulacra we participate in constructing willingly?
the answer to questions regarding sustainability lie in a return to unpolluted nature? or an idealized past? were the futurists right? does the salvation of humankind's relationship lie not in de-technologizing ourselves like flower children but on the other in an active participation in the world of artifice (what is that anyway). isn't any cultural form artificial anyways? is there an answer to all al gore complains about in these new technologies- learning from biology- artificial life forms - that might disturb our sensibilities now, but might be the road to a sustainable future?
in 'never let me go', ishiguro gently sucks us into a world where we identify with the artificial and frightens us to death. a real horror story.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
lavasa from a nearby hill. three buildings in a valley and roads. an international school for rich bombay brats is under construction and a university affiliated to oxford- far away from protesting left wingers in london
on the other side of the lush is the red mud of the receding lake
held back by the dam that allows a trickle into the agricultural fields of the village
waiting for the hosts while napping in the verandah
the house at dusk
sun set in the hills
two aajis in the rotunda windows
laughter in the verandah
and my mother sings
Friday, March 21, 2008
so monday and tuesday were spent driving around. every time you go around the city you discover something new. driving through dharavi (no stop this time) our first stop was dadar parsi colony- five gardens, where the old fabric is being replaced with high rises but the gardens are still some of the most accessible and beautiful in the city. bawa men stand and peer curiously from first floor windows as we trooped past and children sang old english songs from a school.
chawls below the flyover
community based women's organization making and selling marathi snacks below flyover
the beedi making chawl
we had lunch at phoenix- gorging ourselves in the very spaces that we decry very happily and then to banganga. but before that we took a walk to one of the chawls still left in the mill district. directly opposite the blue glass cube of the peninsula center a line of shops opens out into the courtyard filled with a low rise community. women sat on the thresholds making beedis and a passing local commented “now these are only interesting to foreigners”. a simmering discontent. but moving on to more tourist friendly waters – banganga.
the first time we took one of our foreign tourists there always avoiding it to steer clear of the sepia tint with naked children in water cliché. this time was nice though and the flirting between the krvia girls and the swiss boys started there on and continued to zaveri bazaar where blue and pink transparent pichkaris were bought and squirting and giggling followed.
steps to banganga
around the tank
at zaveri bazaar we walked through an old megastructure market- rem koolhaas pay attention. the lk market and the cloth market. woven deep into the city, they are both sprawling interior cities complete with courtyards, avenues and alleyways. with a roof that soars there is always a cool breeze within. white cotton sheets line both sides as heavy mattresses invite you to sit. warehouses are accessed by narrow stairs within each shop. incredible.
right behind mumbadevi was another incredible street. parathas were being roasted in a stall and chai sold across it. religious knickknacks and garlands along with plastic toys on a pedestrian street.
we ended the day at the gateway of
the second day was navi mumbai day but not before a stop at mankhurd to look at some crimes against humanity committed by the state. rehousing for project affected people. slabs of 8 storied buildings crowd against one another with slivers of space in between. slightly better but not by much are the buildings further down the street where verandah run the length of the buildings- a little more friendly- and overlook vast tracts of barren land. shops have been allocated away from all of this in a plaza where no one seems to have moved. why would anyone come to this god forsaken end to buy anything. disastrous and frightening.
housing and the market - mankhurd
right beside that monstrosity is the older avatar of low income housing- pleasant single storied buildings around a courtyard.
in navi mumbai, the cbd is slightly less desolate than it used to be when i was surveying it almost 9 years back. with the city slowly filling up, a few luxury stores and offices seem to have finally moved into the skeleton like behemoths in that ghost town. even now, though, the upper floors still seem abandoned and dusty.
the experience of driving in new bombay is strange. while in mumbai the scale and speed never seems to change that much in mew bombay it seems like the distance between the intimate and the vast is always too quick. from racing along the relatively empty streets, barren and desolate to plunging suddenly into the dense fabrics imagined as places to live by the architects chosen to design the ideal way of life in the new city. the obsession of the 80s to create and ‘inidan’ way of living through learning from the traditional villages and towns has so many avatars here- most notably at the artists village- correa’s ideal of living for the city he was part of proposing- and raj rewals horrific red stone monstrosity in nerul. while correas fractal organisaion leading from court to court seems to have worked with the inhabitants completely taking over the architecture itself- someties to a point where the original core is no longer visible (thankfully- i was never one for the annoyingly cloy cuteness of the original buildings) rewals project lies almost completely abandoned. while one part of it has been occupied after the residents have completely ridden themselves of the rough red plaster and the agra stone cladding that is ‘inspired from north indian desert towns’, the other part of the site is overrun with cobwebs and dust. i doubt anyone would want to live in what when new looked like a ruin. and like a ruin it photographs well, but walk into the apartments and the hovel like rooms are incredibly oppressive. the narrow openings that make the tasteful proportions of the exterior don’t help at all.
artists village - how did the right house become the left house?
the nallah in artists village. the original home is almost unseen
artists village - a play area
artists village - old home
subodh and hema’s housing at sanpada is thankfully miles away from all that romanticism. with interesting apartment typologies around a street and a eccentric little play pavilion in a garden at least it acknowledges the urban. to the rear the low rise low income housing still evokes the rural like the correa project, but while correas project weaves the fabric tight the project leaves many loose ends.