Saturday, September 30, 2006

happy birthday mom

idea to resolution

somewhere along the way an idea is at the mercy of the demon called resolution. he stand there whip in hand making sure that cars turn and toilets are ventilated. the past two days have been stressful and traumatic as we have seen before our very eyes ideas perish under the pressure to get things like movement and structure right. as if the idea was not about architecture, for when building starts happening the idea disappears under heavy handed articulation. i think this is fear talking, for in the idea itself there lies the germ of the resolved building. and it is only a fear of failure that refuses to acknowledge it. especially today in the third year jury, where spatial ideas (shall not talk about the ‘contradistinction’ thing- which seemed to me to be problematic) seemed to have potential which if reinforced and strengthened could be interesting. but even in the fourth year design project we see good ideas vanish before our very eyes into boring architecture. the act of making takes its own time.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

'khosla ka ghosla'

9 of us. aditya, saurabh, kewal, ubaid, ninad, ateya, rupali, sonal and me went to fame andheri today to watch an afternoon show of ‘khosla ka ghosla’ one of the many new films about the middle class experience in cities- a ‘multiplex’ film- they call these. this film is set in delhi and follows a typical middle class indian familys' travails as they try and get back a plot from a land mafia don that rightfully belongs to them.

the first half was too much of a downer for a film that claims to be comedy with its rather depressing view of land and corruption as the plot of land is captured by a leering boman irani; while in the second half the great robin hood plan seemed feeble; but the atmosphere of the delhi homes and shops were fantastic. so was the language. middle class lives in middle class spaces- with nokia phones, showcases, nightgowns- the movie reminded me of the ‘real’ spaces in the comic dramas of hrishikesh mukherjee films. and in the end when the ghosla does finally get built its glorious punjabi baroque architecture is a misty eyed yet ironic celebration of all the desires of middle class urban india.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


i do agree that the united states needs to feel at least a pang of guilt with the way that its history has treated the native american, after all i have been to a few reservations and seen the incredible poverty and the sham tacky casino culture that seems to have overrun them, but is this kind of lip service hollywood style enough? maybe, i am being unnecessarily hard. after all it was just a movie and it did seem to have its heart in the right place. but why make the very blonde val kilmer the central character who plays a half indian cop sent to a reservation to investigate a murder and who then learns to ‘listen to the wind’ or ‘go to the source’ to discover a racket to mine uranium from reservation lands. its typical fare; sweet old indian men and women do sweet indian things and speak in vague nothings about mystical lands are threatened by big business and corrupt cops. Based on a true story, I am told. If I had to honest about it I would say it was a bad film I watched completely because it was cliché ridden from beginning to the end (and I was in the mood a few good cliches); and because I gave it a few brownie points for playing the liberal card so sincerely and so calculatingly...

oh.. and the title is val kilmers great ancestors name whom he sees in a vision running away after doing a ghost dance from evil horse riding colonisers bent on shooting him in the back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

meetings - pedagogical annoyance. fellowship. tod

so today it finally emerges- from the mouth of a faculty member 'usa' returned in a meeting today on pedagogy and methods.

“india is not about having ideas, it is about consuming them” making an entire nation into a bunch of wide eyed nincompoop consumers wasn’t enough, next we had to train them in the school to become perfect zombies churning out anything that the world market would demand. they needed to be taught the value of ‘labour’ even if it means that we need to be ‘nazi-ish’ about it. maybe we need to give them projects which will not give them leeway to think because anyways in the ‘real’ world the practice works this way.

we were all suitably aghast at the cynical pessimism and complete conviction at promoting a lack of any conviction that this person promoted. violently and shamelessly stating the lack of a ‘tradition’ to fall back on. i lost my temper- badly.

the undercurrent was that we needed to emulate and/or cater to the outside to be able to better ourselves since we obviously have nothing really to contribute. as you can imagine, i lost my temper- badly at that.

the fellowship paper presentations were better. ateyas paper seems like it might be fun. connecting the experience of the body in a spectacle to the politics of space in the city.

and the last of today’s meetings was in town where the great controversy regarding the motivations and methodologies for the ‘tod’ project at andheri were thrashed out almost to our satisfaction.

Monday, September 25, 2006

avon movie session : monty python 27, 28, 29

meghana ranjit mukul

saurabh meghana

sonal saurabh
a movie watching session at avon turned out to be a laugh riot as more jaw droppingly irrelevant kucch bhi connections and jokes kept us laughing till there were tears in our eyes. more bizarre as each sketch went by; ‘the fish slapping dance’, the ‘how to do it’ sketch, ‘the argument’, ‘the life and times of peter ilyich tschaikovsky’- absurd, childish, political and strangely ‘intellectual’.

on the way back home as the streets were filled with sharp dressed young men and women carrying chania cholis daintily over puddles on their way for some good old dandiya; we floated a new idea to compete with pinky and preity at raghuleela mall - dj dhingdo and dj dhoklo.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

weekend shopping fragments - a mall, a street and at home

here are some more random fragments from the past two days of shopping.

first is the new shoppers stop at juhu. smooth all the way down to the pavement and pure white marble on the inside where mukul bought clothes for his trip to delhi and then frankfurt. much more bearable than the overdone atria and nowhere as close to the ridiculous raghuleela, but a little on the safe, well-finished side.

then the lokhandwala market where we gave jayashrees camera for repair. here the frightening high rise housing meets the street with a rowdy line of designer rip-off clothing stores with funky names and glittering letters on alucobond signage. on the streets the filmy wannabes walk around like the mannequins in the stores wearing real tight t-shirts with muscles bulging out and sunglasses perched on top of newly coloured hair. i have an idea for a poem that collects the words that form the names of the stores along the street. pepper tree, nu shooz, blossom, snazzee.

towards the end of the street a modernist black glass block is showing signs of life as signage spills out from the archways and a new layer is formed giving it a new life.

today after the music system in my room was finally in place, as i was listening to the clogs’ and their ambient patterns the bengali sari man came home. its been years since he did and today the saris were really not as great as they are generally. my mom had to buy and so she did. cottons. beautiful green, off white and ephemeral strewn all over the living room.

photo post - dance bar and jp

dancing girl on outer facade of dance bar on highway

payal dance bar signage - goregaon


me and mukul


'and now for something completely different'

ok.. really not as funny as i thought it would be- but funny nevertheless. these were some refilmed and polished up sketches from the tv series strung together in a typically pythonesque irrelevant way. lots of classics like ‘wink wink’ and ‘fresh fruit self defense’ were there, some still as hilarious as the first time i saw them. but if timing is comedy, sometimes they seemed slightly off. this is still a good primer for a sample of all the silly, brilliant madness of the flying circus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

'nagarik' . jayprakash

ritwik ghataks ‘nagarik’ is the ideal citizen of propaganda posters… almost. his taut strong body, pencil thin moustache and the light in his eyes radiate with hope in a possible glorious future in spite of the despair and the squalor around him in his decrepit house in between the skyscrapers where he lives with his mother, father, sister and younger brother. his sister can’t get married because of her age and her looks, his father is dying slowly and steadily, his mother is cantankerous and nagging; yet his hopes and dreams are undiminished. a calendar on the wall shows him a possible future in a red tiled home in an open field with a tree swaying in the breeze. a place where he will take his love and his family- once he gets a job. this optimism stays undiminished throughout the film, even though there seems to be nothing happening to gives him hope; it stays with him even at the end when while moving to the slum, the only philosophical change is that instead of living on false promises (the calendar image) he chooses the path of struggle and engagement , perhaps political, with the everyday reality of the city.

the interior at the once seedy bar and now hangout institution called 'jp' – short for jayprakash- is a masterpiece. the ac room especially. it is an inside treated like an outside. the interiors of the external walls are facades of low cantonment style buildings and we sit in verandahs and jhoolas in a kind of courtyard with a starry sky above. the windows with chajjas that look ‘in’ to the interiors of the fake bungalows have mirrors in them in which we see the red roofed trusses under which we sit and the low dangling lights that hang above our heads. its all very odd and beautiful- the simulation of the outside in an interior space, done with humor and delight.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

photo post - home and away


kaushik and mohua

sonal and me



ironies and more

this is for all the crazy things that happened over the past few days, like for example when right across from our decidedly and vociferously left wing school, our decidedly and vociferously right wing management called mr advani’ji’ as chief guest for an anniversary special. paul went. i had a meeting in dadar which leads me the fact that we drove there to meet the assistant commissioner of police for traffic for a plan to remove vehicular traffic from certain roads and relocate parking- and i had to keep driving around because there was anyways a lack of it in the area. knowing the a.c.p. did not help in any way even on the way back as it took 2 hours to get back.

earlier in the day someone from the university of melbourne spoke about two museums in australia where identity was being manufactured through the manipulation of space. museums become theme parks and entertainment and leisure replace knowledge and research. collage and references in one museum were compared to the white monumentality of a war museum.

the previous evening at a party at manojs’ i met subu after ages; i haven’t met her since the marriage. she is looking good and happy.

and still resonating in my head right now are the variety of heated discussions all around about research and practice. from the dialectical to the ‘stalinesque’ (as kausik calls dogmatism) to the question of pre-determined analytical structures that are superimposed on objects and are forcibly made to fit (does the object still have any meaning left after this reduction?), to questions of space (finding the right one or making it yourself);to what makes good teachers, good projects, good thesis students, good architecture, what generates architectural language?, what is architectural language? will therapy help him? will he continue? what happens now?– who should we allocate to whom to for the next years thesis? - these are the words in my head. these, and more.

Monday, September 18, 2006

new entries to the house. happy birthday anand

the chair

new entries to the house have turned the established order upside down. first it is strangely art deco styles chair that dad mom sonal and me bought at raghuvanshi mills yesterday. it sits now right besides me as i type- brown leather asymmetrical with gold trimmings. meanwhile for my room which has long lacked a music system i am putting together a computer based soundbox. i got the computer back from the office and got it connected and today collected the new amplifier and speakers from veera desai road. anand is supposed to get me a 300 gb (or something like that) hard drive for all my mp3s- most essential. But that means that all the furniture in my room is suddenly woefully inadequate. I have to get a new wardrobe made, new book shelves and need to finally get rid of all the cassette tapes that I have collected over the years and have stored so carefully for nostalgias sake. They are now gathering dust and fungus and will never play. does anyone have any suggestions about that to do with them? I have at least 600.

my room on sunday

also- today is anand bhat- my cousins birthday. the youngest of all- here is he loking like upen patel.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

harish crit rain coincidence

harish has become hip suddenly. from being pretty seedy and dingy for a long time, it has become swanky, false ceilinged and mouldinged with marble and frosted glass, stainless steel railings and soft low yellow lights. it has always been quite a hangout for mens clubs who come there in the evening for their daily does of whisky and smoke with fish - and it still is. we had a crit meeting there yesterday in the evening. chitra showed us her gorgeous book. lovely dense drawings. she is hoping to get it published. you guys know anybody?

and it rained... and rained.. in two hours stopping trains and buses. it took two hours ot drive back from andheri to borivili. my mother and ranjit were saying there was a clap of thunder so loud that ranjit dropped his keyboard from his hands.

also weirdest coincidence ever - ranjits parents having lived in mukuls house in 1975- and having a photo of themselves with mukul in their albums - discovered only yesterday! i'll let muki tell the story in detail.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


belonging to a long tradition of hindi films in which an honest cop fights against a corrupt ‘system’ single handedly requires that the central characters of the film be perfect icons of malenss and femaleness. almost like walking talking genitalia. mohit ahlavat has enough screen presence to manage – if he could learn at least three more facial expressions; but nisha kothari as the bimbo on his arm annoys with her wide eyed talentless daftness. ‘shiva’ is conceived as a compete feel good film as no unpleasantnesis allowed to linger on the screen for more than a few seconds whether it’s the obligatory rape scene, the gangsters escape or the possible maligning of shivas reputation by the vile politician (dilip prabhavalkar in a mirror of his take on gandhi in munnabhai). the hero easily pounds his way out of any trouble with a tight slap on the face or a punch on the nose.

granted that the first scene where a nail is hammered into the skull of a guy to kill him cannot really be called pretty. still, i think rgv used that scene merely to tell us that it was a direction he could have gone with the film. ‘shiva’ is on the other hand silly, pointless, amateurish and slip shod in execution.

i did feel bad for ahlavat as his career seems like its going to be over even before it has begun- first ‘james’ and now this. maybe he should do some karan johar films.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

traffic hq . phoenix

saurabh and me went to the traffic department hq at worli today to show the man in charge the dadar proposal. naturally with one way systems and no parking zones and entire streets being pedestrianized their approval is most necessary. the guy we spoke to had 6 telephone including 3 mobiles that kept ringing throughout our conversation with him and on one side of him was hindi breaking news on a computer monitor as live feed. the room was on the 6th floor on one side of the dingy typical doubly loaded corridor with a super view of the ocean and the unbelievably unimaginative four storey housing blocks that are the staple diet of the pwd. the meeting went off all right but we have to take him to the site one evening.

looking out from the traffic department hq

later at phoenix while waiting for mukul to turn up we hung around in the courtyard turned parking lot on weirdly colored benches and took in what has become the symbol for the violently transforming landscape of the city. mill lands into malls. chimneys, industrial sheds have been made cute by graffiti and glossy by a veneer of aluminum composite panel cladding. except that you don’t bother covering the entire building except what is considered the ‘front’ in a cartographic drawing. old arches and brickwork still peek through. now they are building a huge parking structure that looms ominously over the courtyard. this i think they will clad with glass. this patchwork of materials, colors, sizes and shapes is the form of the new city right now. venturi would be pleased – maybe (?).

it was drizzling gently as we talked.


my new book

bahaar dear from new york couriered me this special surprise gift yesterday. i love the book. thanks thanks thanks.

avon party

my leg was pulled just last night about my perpetual blogging instinct by none other than these asses who call themselves my friends. saurabh, ranjit, sonal and mukul at the impromptu party at avon with coffee liqueur, wine, chicken tangdi and lots of chat. this was after a failed desperate attempt on my part to get them to drive all the way to bandra so that i could attend the freshers party and dance a little. so here is a post to satisfy my perpetual blogging instinct and their urge to have something to tease me about.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

dadar parking quest . limo-auto . 'one way'

saurabh, aditya and me spent the early afternoon driving up and down the narrow crowded roads around dadar station, where a maze of one ways, throngs of pedestrians and the usual mess of vehicles made navigation difficult to impossible. we were hunting for possible alternative parking spaces around the station as our proposal for the reorganization of the railway station area hinges on pedestrianising some streets. no real luck in our quest. all the possible spaces were already overflowing with cabs, cars, buses, tempos, hand carts.. every possible kind of vehicle but auto rickshaws which are reserved for us lowly north mumbaiites.

speaking of which here is a photo of one which is in reality a bmw limousine in disguise – at andheri today in the morning.

at mukuls place i saw two versions of ayishas film 'one way' on the nepali watchman at a bangalore housing colony who lives in the electric room in the basement with his wife and two children. ayisha had intercut the interviews and the atmosphere shots with found footage of (i assume) uprisings and protests in nepal. mukuls hd photography was exquisite.

Monday, September 11, 2006

man with a movie camera

this is the 1929 silent era classic documentary by dziga vertov that i finally saw completely today after one earlier failed attempt. the modern city is perpetually in motion with the movement of gears and steamships, of printing presses and trams criss-crossing the streets and the screen. it is also a place where the ideal perfect bodies find leisure sunbathing on the beach, or poised in stillness as they leap like horses over hurdles or throw javelins for sport. it’s a propaganda film for a new world told as a pseudo narrative of a process of documentation by a man with a move camera. a frame within a frame. the city of the present (a projected future) pulsates, alive and buzzing with connections, networks, voices; throbbing with a vitality highlighted by the over analysed montage technique, double exposures, fast motion/ slow motion portions, the animation. all very fine for the machine like modern city, but what form should the act of documentation - rhetorical or represenational- be for our city today?

iconic city image- no 423

coming into the city at dawn

Saturday, September 09, 2006

light... like trapped clouds

at sureshs house above the dining table. acrylic and glass wool

celebrations - birthdays and housewarmings

at johns house - joannas birthday

happy birthday joanna yesterday with a party at john and mary’s. joanna and shriya ran around the boy in their lives- a little tyke called ayush- and he played very hard to get.

at sureshs house - housewarming

happy new house suresh today as the housewarming party for the raheja house with good mallu food in a mandap downstairs and the house all spick and span and looking ready to be lived in.

Friday, September 08, 2006

the color of pomegranates

its like walking into a byzantine gallery of mosaics. the frame is a box in which these tableaux are arranged in full frontal mode. the narrative is obscure and replaced by allegory and metaphor. each frame is like a joseph cornell installation with carefully arranged parts like miniature machines swaying like pendulums. i cant say i understood the film but watching it was like trying to piece together a story by being offered exquisitely crafted fragments.

there is a strange book that i am reading about the relationship of architecture with life. in it ‘architecture’ or the restricting frame is contrasted with the mutability of life. the museum becomes then for me the place where architecture actually perfects its hold over life. in the film the architectonic frame collapses only when the poet finally dies and suddenly new horizons appear; spaces are revealed behind the otherwise stage like setting, and then there are spaces below and above as we hover above the poet as he falls to his death in a field of candles or watch from below as the angel child hangs from the center of a dome.