Sunday, April 27, 2008

nightmare dream : cinema as saviour (and philosophical guru)

if were not for the fact that i was aware of it being a film with a constant voiceover my sunday siesta dream might have tipped me off into complete madness. a study trip told by someone other than myself as a voice-of-god narrator making all the anarchy around me possible. a road trip through hell it seemed to be now that i am awake, but in the dream i was oddly indifferent to the weird situations.

my travel companions were everyone i know in quick random succession that meet accidentally in the dark dank toilet with no walls that seems like a medieval dungeon. women whom i meet there shitting buttocks exposed as they seem to have entered the men’s toilet instead. and then there were the chinese men who stared me down in the locker room outside the toilet that was cold and blue and metallic; until they a really close and one of them leeringly asked for my woodland floaters.
can he borrow them for the night? i relent, as i have other shoes.

there are a few doors that lead to the toilet but most of them open upon a dead wall with plumbing fixtures. omkar climbs the stairs and his father follows curiously into the dungeon. i say.; ‘see- architecture is tough’. but we have to leave this place. everyone i already know in one car in a quick succession of jump cuts and in the other the irish black haired rock star in leather jacket and boots has his black fiat with u2 in blur neon etched on top. the hot girls go with him. the reason why we were leaving was because the irish man’s polar bears had demolished the two red brick buildings in which we were living by climbing to the top. the whole edifice had come crumbling down over our heads.

all this would have been enough to drive me mad but there was also the old man driving my car whose wife sat behind knitting something. i pick one end up and exclaim that it seems to be a fine lace doily for the whole car- a beetle – and i was holding the portion for the wheel in my hand.

it was the knowledge that this was all only a film that kept me sane through the dream. that- and the voice of god kept telling me the reasons for everything.

moral of the story: it seems that we are kept sane in the face of madness by the knowledge that all is maya, and by the fact that it is not our responsibility as somebody else made the rules- big brother?

expressway and a picnic

time on the expressway does not exist. nor does spatial experience. its like being in a vacuum removed away from the world as felt. manoj’s car coasted gently in soft 80’s pop over the sun baked bald hills. the four of us lulled to torpor lazily noticing nothing around us but the billboards selling dreams. as you head towards pune they sell you rooms with two windows, a bit of singapore, a fancy new car, homes inspired by water, freedom, happiness and love on a bit of real estate. laughing young couples smile toothpaste smiles in blue skies as they float meters over the baking hot highway, arms open wide, carefree laughter and bright sparkling eyes. pune seems like a city bejeweled with fantasies. the difference between these as you head into pune and the ones that face you as you head in mumbai is marked. no consumerist dreams face you as you head into maximum city. instead, there are banks asking you make sure you save enough for your future and insurance companies warning you if you don’t, phone companies offer you discounts. it is as if the highway into mumbai has been populated with signs of caution- be careful- it is dangerous where you are heading.

manoj, lalitha, sonal and me had gone to the singhadad college off the bangalore highway to give a presentation on the masters course. lunch was idlis and sabudana khichidi just outside the campus on the winding road heading down sitting on the storm water drain. picnic.

Friday, April 25, 2008

english women in the afternoon - atonement / middlemarch / the wings of the dove / jubilee / an inconvenient truth

its has been a week of lazy afternoons. the house is even more comfortable now that the carpenters have gone leaving a double bed in my parents bedroom. it is dark and cool (compared to the rest of the house) and is the only room with air conditioning. unlike sonal who seems to be only able to read essays right now, i am enjoying reading long soap opera like novels- all set in england. mansions in romantic gardens, the stifling class system that love always seems to threaten, london as a distant metropolis affecting older, more ancient customs and while the men always seem to be more than a little stuck up, the women are the center of all attention. at least in the novels i am reading.

‘atonement’, ‘middlemarch’ and now ‘the wings of the dove’. briony in ‘atonement’ who regrets an accusation she made at her sisters lover; dorothea brooke in 'middlemarch' who marries an older wiser man only to be disappointed by his pomposity and then plunge into a guilty love for his younger blonde locked cousin; rosamund vincy whose delicate grace in a provincial town discouraged all the suitors until she fell for the husky voiced doctor from the city. she too was ultimately frustrated by the husbands inability to provide for her extravagant needs; and then there is the angelic, plain faced mary garth- who makes a good man out of fred vincy, rescuing him from a life spent in gambling. haven’t gotten to know the women in ‘the wings of the dove’ yet. but i will.

interrupting these pastoral rambling stories was ‘jubilee’, derek jarman’s dystopic vision of a version of london from the 1970s. queen elizabeth visits the future through ariel’s crystal and watches herself as bod murdering men while having sex with them. her friends are mad the pyromaniac, amyl nitrate the ballet dancer and eurovision song contest entry from britain and other homosexuals, punk rockers and anti-establishment heroes. all rebellion through is constantly mainstreamized by borgia ginz the big mouthed bald headed media mogul. think american idol having a punk rock special guest mentor. the film was a jubilee celebration of the 25th year of queen elizabeth ii’s rule. its nasty, anarchic and completely and unabashedly arty. incredible.

one evening after dinner sonal and me were entertained by the apocalyptical grandstanding by al gore in ‘an inconvenient truth’. global warming exists! and he has a slide show to prove it. glaciers are melting, weather is changing and we are to blame. i am convinced, mr gore. but whats with all the cutaways between the slideshow where you perform with great skill demonstrating your caring nature and your honorable past. i thought you had already stood for elections and lost. but i must not be too churlish. the film is all right for what it tries to do, and does not completely pussyfoot around while placing the blame for the environmental disaster upon the big energy guzzlers in the west.

and as a footnote, we seem to have found a new place to party near college. ‘shankari’ is dingy,smoky and dirty. the beer is cold, and the fish fresh (and large). tara, this one is for you and entire paulose clan. :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

tianna being christened

at the marthomite church in i.c. colony under a portal frame where red velvet curtains, stone imitating tile cladding, floral frosted sliding windows and laminated cladding make a church under portal frame. john, mary, joanna and mary looking lovely in white and tianna glowing.

the dinner at what was once the 'upper deck' at the nest. the nautical theme meant ship wheels on the wooden walls. balloons over our heads, fabulous food and joanna and shriya shrieking wildly running around the columns.

'phuski mama' before he is hung upside down and thrown into the sea managed to take a few photographs of the whirling beauties.


what i love about the first year projects, both architectural design and basic design, at krvia is the ambition of their intentions and the active engagement in the city. compositional and formal questions are raised firmly as responses to particular experiences that are analysed and represented. the architecture comes out of these observations. you find the architecture and you find the project. ‘scripting the project’ rupali called it in the last faculty meeting. i like the phrase.

yesterday was the last day of college and the final basic design jury. this time the students were asked to find a boundary in the juhu area to explore. the boundaries that emerged were not merely experiential but naturally those seeped in competing claims over space. boundaries were then emphasized, revealed, blurred. incredibly more difficult than the beach project from last year- and maybe therefore- not as much of a hit. but the questions were complicated and difficult and some of the work terrific. i especially loved the projected fragments of the markets in the av room. like a shattered city. and the chairs in the no-mans land that interacted daily with the users of the space and gradually changed form through the week. The art object and the subject in a dance.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

image post: retaining wall under construction

when the highway widens the slum is held back by a concrete wall. strange machines like insects help in building it.

image post: the new mall on link road

le marche like a slab of aluminum glistening in the morning light. the oshiwara river flows alongside black to the mangroves.

the sentinel

do i have to review this? sometimes i get so weary of my compulsive need to record every single film that i see. not that the film was awful; it was just, i don't know, blah... another film about the probable assassination of the american president, wishful thinking- i am sure. another film with michael douglas playing middle aged white man being framed, good cop gone bad, old friendships gone sour. some ridiculous transitions of supposed death threats to the president were supposed to add a layer of suspense and end up being just another device in another hollywood film with a hollywood formula.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

a case for boring architecture

what is it about the permanence of architecture that frightens us so much? is it its inherent stability that is difficult to shift- the making of boundaries that is its inherent nature? the urge to transgress them leads to construct complicated formal operations.

we are too afraid of immobility. with a culture of 5 second attention spans fostered by television we get anxious when we are confronted with stillness. we are afraid of being boring- not entertaining enough to command attention. complicated maneuvers are performed. folds, blurs, twists and turns- because one can. i do realize the overtly proselytizing tone of this post but these acrobatics seem like distractions created to hide the shallowness of our concerns. experience and habitation seem to be relegated to a lower status than the projection of seductive form. ‘the soft pornography of the rosebud’, i have said this somewhere else.

the problem is the urge to be ‘interesting’: as in unusual, odd, eye catching in magazines and drawings. the represented space is far more important than the lived. and that is the bind of architecture- because it is about represented space- only. architecture naturally then, to survive and flourish, must consign to a lower rung the non-pretty- the domestic, the body, the deformed, the ordinary, the mundane and elevate what is ‘interesting’.

assumed in this situation is that everyday life cannot be exhilarating. experience, unless it is mediated through formal operations cannot bring joy. within these operations, if experience has a part to play then it is the active body performing antics that is considered (like in an amusement park or playground). otherwise form must play with itself. turn, twist, swirl. when the body is still it is form that must dance.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a day at the disappearing mill lands (bharat mata/lalbaug)

spent a sunday morning at two soon-to- disappear landmarks of the city's industrial history.

on its last legs is the bharat mata cinema where even today good marathi familes come to watch the whacky tacky comedies and the sentimental tearjerkers that make up the new marathi cinema. the projectionist custodian of this landmark of the marathi manoos (raj thackerey please note) is a u-p bhaiiya.

at lalbaug cricket matches are being played as the terribly built older buildings come down and are replaced with terribly built newer ones. old men still sit at corners discussing politics and the shops still sell the paraphernalia of a good marathi middle class life.