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The End…. or a new beginning!

THE END…. OR A NEW BEGINNING

As I sat cribbing over dinner about the college reopening from Monday, my mom surprised me with a question, “Dear, in the past 20 years of school and college reopening dates I have never seen you so upset and cribbing over it. You have always been excited about the start of a new academic year and always geared up yourself to overcome new challenges and to enlive new experiences. Her question sent me in a whirlpool of thoughts and revived hundreds of memories. I bought myself back to the present and replied, “Mom, I am not worried about the new beginning but I am worried about THE END. The end of my formal education.” It feels creepy to think that within no time I will graduate and step in a completely different world. Again, I don’t fear the new life, competitiveness, the responsibility, the challenge but I fear losing the amazing people I met in the past few years. These set of people do not only mean my friends (with whom I might still manage to stay in touch) but everyone right from my teachers, mentors, juniors to the non-teaching staff.”

After dinner as I sat watching our class movie and walked down the memory lane I remembered all the fun, the fights, the happy and the sad moments all of us had together. Right from arranging college tours to enjoying them, from being a part of the cultural events to working hard to make it a success. We never realized how these tours and events brought all of us close to each other. How those Secret Santa games played for fun built relationships. How dressing up as whacky characters and dancing to the tunes of the DJ till our legs ache built a treasure trove of memories. I wondered will we ever forget those amazing days spent in making fun of each other, helping each other when in need and those amazing NASA night outs and night ins!!!! 😛 How can we Academites forget the long nights at home spent working with our moms serving us endless cups of coffee (and as if that wasn’t enough helping me in my models!! P.S. all my trees in my models throughout architecture have been made by my Mom. Thank you Mom for all the help and support. ) At times, fighting with  teachers to get the submissions postponed and at times thanking them for doing the needful even before we thought about it. And there are no words to thank the non-teaching staff who were always there around helping us, smuggling T-scales and giving us keys to the classrooms to use them after college hours. Also the watchman uncle about which I wouldn’t mention online but has been extremely sweet and helpful.

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I owe this institution a lot. It has moulded me into what I am today. Hopefully one day I will be back here to give back something to this institution. So, keeping aside all my emotions and inhibitions I now get ready for my last academic year, cleaning my shelves with a flame of hope in my heart that this is not THE END…… BUT A NEW BEGINNING. 

My journey through four years of NASA

NASA! NASA! NASA! Everyone in my family, all my friends and most of the teachers are fed up of this word from the month of November to January. Family because I am never at home and social gatherings, friends because whenever there is a plan made I always have an excuse to not attend and teachers because they start getting continuous requests to grant submission and attendance concessions.

These are the three months of the year where my friends and family are my team mates and teachers are seniors who guide us throughout the journey. These are the days where we stretch our learning boundaries beyond our limits, working day and night, staying in college for weeks together willingly.

No doubt NASA helps us learn a lot of aspects related to architecture depending on the trophy one is working for, helps one make contacts, makes one meet new people belonging to different fields from architects, planners, historians, economists to government officials, helps one polish ones hand and software using skills etc. (The list can go on…) These are the things people generally join NASA for. But today, at the end of this journey when I look back I realize what NASA actually means to me and that its contribution to my life has been a lot beyond architecture.

(From this point the article becomes very personal, bear through it.)

I started my journey as a scared little first year, overwhelmed and awestruck by the stories I had heard about NASA and the folios I had seen. Till today I myself can’t imagine that this scared little girl who left LIK midway in her first year is done heading the GSEN trophy. I till date, repent for not making the right choice in my first year itself. This was the first lesson NASA taught me, ‘DO WHAT YOU LIKE, WHAT INTERESTS YOU AND NOT WHAT EVERYONE IS DOING.’

The second year NASA journey was a very special and long one with ANDC and GSEN back to back but one of the most memorable ones with uncountable hurdles which we all crossed together with an amazing spirit, never losing hope.  ANDC gifted me with a very special brother sister relationship. I never understood how working together day and night, sharing buttermilks and tiffin’s and covering up for each other made us love and respect each other so much.

Ahh!!  My second year GSEN.  The year of maximum troubles. Troubles of all kinds faced smoothly all thanks to my heading batch. Their co-ordination and management made everything happen correctly always. They entrusted me with a responsibility and it is this trust and responsibility which boosted my once lost SELF CONFIDENCE that I had made a right choice in joining architecture which I had lost somewhere in the span of those 2 years. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT, THEY TAUGHT ME HOW TO FACE PROBLEMS WITH A SMILE ON THE FACE.

In my third year we were one of the smallest GSEN teams in history. The women dominated team. The year where I actually learnt sharing the trophy responsibilities. A small family which in spite of a few squabbles here and there finished everything on time, all thanks to my heads. They taught me how to organize, manage and the most important where to draw a line, stop an activity and continue the next. It was the year when along with managing work I learnt managing people and their outbursts (which we all know are common during NASA.)  :p  A comparatively smooth year with an amazing site visit, chilly winter nights and loads of desert outings. And all this ended with the entire team going to the convention after a nice long shower!!!! (Though we still missed the train. I don’t actually repent that. Travelling in general dabba was an experience!)

Finally comes ‘THE YEAR.’ The year when we were known as ‘THE HEADING BATCH’ (The past tense is intentional.) Starting the journey with more thorns then roses, but attaining victory at every phase.

(P.S. – This is the most difficult part for me to write about.)

It’s been a year where I have lived with a cloud of responsibility always hovering over my head, inseparable, with me even in my dreams and nightmares. It’s been a year of a completely different experience of staying alone in a different place without other trophies and with mice as the only NON – NASA companion. The experience of not having the liberty to move out if one is irritated with the loud music or going and sitting in the niche when you want some time alone. I know it’s been worse for my juniors who had no place to hide from me!!! Always stuck with me on their head, shouting my lungs out!

But all these conditions literally made us live together as a FAMILY. Made us care for each other. We caught mice and freed them. Niche was replaced by walks along the five gardens, exploring a new neighbourhood, even getting lost at times and meeting amazing and the sweetest bunch of people ever.  Not to forget the awesome late night desert outings without worrying about the watchman’s shouting, every time at a different place and not to forget one of the best Christmas celebrations with an amazing Secret Santa and free dinner party!! Thanks to our amazing sponserer!! J J

This year NASA has given me two drastically different but amazing friends and the best juniors and co-head ever. Their smallest gesture of bowing down to me in RESPECT has become the happiest moment of my life. It’s been the best gift ever and no words can express how I felt at that moment. (Though I hate you all for making me cry in front of everyone.)

A journey which started smoothly ended with a happy ending with ‘THE LECORB’ back to where it belonged and to top the happiness of winning the unexpected and most awesome welcome in college.

These four years of NASA and especially GSEN has given me CONFIDENCE, RESPECT, SOME OF THE CLOSEST RELATIONSHIPS OF MY LIFE and above all AN IDENTITY. With the sound of ‘dhols’ and ‘academy naras’ still ringing in my ears and these 4 years flashing in front of my eyes, I will like to conclude by saying that NASA gives everyone a lot besides knowledge. This is my story and I am sure every NASAITE has their own special story.

DHARAVI – Sheltering people, nurturing dreams

         Mumbai- The city of Dreams, a city which never sleeps, is the financial capital of our country. There is no dearth of glamour, glaze and enthusiasm in this city. This city breathes life. It is “a place where everything is possible” especially the impossible. This city attracted numerous migrants from the 17th century from different cultures and continues to do so till today, with dreams they wish to build upon.

 

Dharavi by Sudhir Mishra is a story of one such very ambitious migrant RajKaran (Om Puri) whos been staying in Mumbai since 17 years in a slum called Dharavi located at what was then the city’s edge. It gives one an insight into the life in the Slums of Mumbai.

 

Rajkaran is a cab-driver living in a tidy, one-room Dharavi shack with his mother , his wife Kumud (Shabana Azmi), and their son. He yearns for success in business and a better life and hence is gathering funds to buy a small cloth-dying factory.  When one of his partners pulls out unexpectedly, Rajkaran reluctantly accepts a loan from the local underworld boss Tiravi, whose goons are suspected to be behind any number of neighborhood beatings and murders.  Now indebted to Tiravi, Rajkaran finds himself drawn into ever more shady dealings, to the despair of Kumud, whose brother dared to stand up to Tiravi’s tyrrany and was murdered for it.  Kumud finds solace in the peaceful company of her first husband Shankar, with whom she had parted ways years before, and who has returned to Dharavi helpless and partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke.  On the verge of losing his livelihood and alienating his family, Rajkaran grows ever more desperate and turns towards crime and petty stealing.

 

This movie paints a clear picture of not only the life of people in slums but also of our city Mumbai on its path of urbanization and globalization. During the movie one can see the present skyline of Mumbai in its making as the backdrop  of Dharavi which is now located at the centre of our city.

The movie shows us a glimpse of how vibrant the social life of people in the slums is. Though their life is like an open book, where no one can keep secrets from their neighbours, they enjoy their life by watching movies together at the chowk, dancing together in someone’s happiness and making the most out of their day to day work of drying papads and washing clothes by sharing the neighbourhood gossips. Though at a constant threat from the middlemen for their basic necessities the lead female makes sure that their ‘kholi’ is kept clean, organized and tries to give it a personal touch by adding a few potted plants and carpets.

Also this movie is an example of how the crime culture in Mumbai affected everyone right from the richest to the poorest inhabitants of the city.

 

Though the story of the movie is harrowing yet compelling, and though its focus is a depressing tale of defeat and loss, it somehow achieves a hopeful tone at the end. The movie shows that it is not easy to survive in this city but the only mantra which can help one do so is to never lose hope and continue to struggle towards achieving ones dreams.

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(P.S. – Its my first attempt at writing a movie review. The reason behind writing this review is not to critic the movie and hence it doesn’t talk about the quality of acting of the characters but to learn something out of the picture the movie is tying to paint in front of our eyes. To relate and compare this scenario portrayed by the movie about Mumbai and specifically Dharavi 20 years ago to the present Mumbai and try and understand the reasons for this urban sprawl and the resulting conditions of the urban poor. Hope this movie gets you thinking because that is where it all starts!)

 

Yeah, I am an architecture student almost at the end of this journey to become an architect. You might have heard many horrendous stories about this architecture course. Working day and night, staying in college for weeks, going for juries looking like zombies, missing social outings and functions are some of the very common traits of architecture students. And all of this is absolutely true.

But all these events have taught me numerous things, given me innumerable good as well as bad experiences, taught me things beyond architecture and given me some beautiful stories and memories which are very close to my heart.

Today, I am going to share one such story with you. Architecture colleges are famous for matching up people who end up being life partners. Most of us by now, I am sure would have been proposed at least once by a guy or girl. But during this course I have been proposed by a guy to become his sister. Shocked? Even I was. Shocked, surprised and overwhelmed. I did not know how to react. It was beyond my imagination and expectations.

A year in architecture and I hardly knew that person existed in my class. Then at the start of my second year many of us refreshed and excited decided to take part in a competition. And here was that guy whom I barely knew, teamed up with me and made to work together. During these wonderful two months of staying in college and working, eating and sleeping together, covering up for one another I never realized how we came so close to each other.

Though I still do not know the actual reason which triggered this proposal, I am still amazed how sharing tiffin’s and buttermilks can make someone respect and love you so much.

It’s now been two years of tieing rakhis and accepting gifts and of this relationship with this very different person, with very different principles and very different ideologies whom otherwise I wouldn’t have talked to. And yeah, very emotional and moody too.

Today, when I look behind, I realize that this college and this course has given me a lot, that is beyond architecture, this being only one such memory out of all those and it plays an important role in making me what I am today.

AOA ROCKS!!

 BOL ACADEMY HALLA BOL!!

Past, Present and Future

In today’s world of our continuous race to find utopia, there has been a sudden realization amongst people that it is their own actions which has now lead them to grave environmental issues like global warming, pollution etc. This sudden realization has made people go back in time, and made them think where had they gone wrong? On thoroughly analyzing their doings people realized that in the hunger to make themselves a part of an utopian society, they forgot the earth, which is the sole reason they are alive. Instead of utilizing it, they exploited it. Instead of being sensitive towards it, they just kept fulfilling their under thought visions of utopia.  But what now? The damage has already started. Then some learned person reminded everyone of a proverb we have all learnt about in school, ‘its better late than never.’

Now there were people who reacted in different ways to this situation. There were few who in the greed to reach utopia, continued giving a deaf year to everyone. There were other few who in a try to save the degrading earth decided to go back from where they had started. 

But the main question is man, after progressing so much, after years of development how far can he go back? Is it possible? Is it feasible? Is it practical? And the main question, is it the solution?

Architecture is all about designing for the people with the help of the environment and not about overpowering environment.  But man doesn’t need to go back from where he started. Our traditions, our culture tell us how to harness the nature to the best in a particular context. Man must understand that, today, the context has changed. It’s no more possible to live in the present by blindly following the past. Our history must be identified as a progressive appropriation of rational foundations of knowledge. Historicity must be defined as the use of the past to help shape the present, but it does depend upon the respect for the past. * Every civilization has its own period of youth, maturity and old age and once it dies its necessary to continue ahead and not begin again from the start.  It’s necessary to not blindly criticize the new styles of architecture but to look into the commonsensical approach in architecture on the basis of traditional wisdom to achieve an outcome with relevance to the overall context, architectural sensitivity, availability of resources and technological advancements.

Hence, the idea is not to waste time replicating the past but to chart out the likely available futures on the basis of traditional and modern knowledge systems together, which will try to achieve the infinite existence of man on earth in harmony with the nature.

*The consequences of modernity – Anthony Giddens

TOURISM – An upcoming industry

Rapid advancements in technology, transport, science, communication and finance altered the way in which society viewed itself, and transformed it into an International Community. No civilized community produces all the things which it consumes which leads to an exchange within communities and nations. A nation deals with one or all the aspects of commerce namely, the production, manufacture and the distribution of the commodity, reaping a profit from their respective specialty. The nature of the commerce depends on the geographical nature of the nature. Some nations have few but abundant resources while others have availability of a variety of resources in a limited quantity. The economy of a nation solely depends on these resources.

Dubai is a very classic example of what I am trying to get at. Dubai’s economy was built on the back of the oil industry. Slowly, people realized that these resources are limited and being situated in a desert they had very few other commercial opportunities. Hence, the governments decided to diversify from a trade-based but oil-reliant economy to one that is service and tourism-oriented. They shifted their focus to building hotels and construction marvels. And the result is known by everyone.

On the other hand, Indian culture, being an amalgamation of traditions owning to its diverse geography, languages and religions, has accepted global influence.  The morphological structure of metropolitan Indian cities are a reflection of its multi-ethnic population base, the historic layering of its urban fabric, which lead to the merging of different cultures. This rich culture and history provides India with numerous destinations right from pilgrimage places, forts, palaces, tombs, architectural marvels to the breath taking natural scenic destinations like the Himalayas, 4000 km long coastline, deserts, coral reefs, islands, backwaters and metropolis like Mumbai and Delhi. But our country is yet not expanding the tourism industry to that extent. The resources of our country are spent in mimicking the trends in western countries. Instead, the resources should be spend in enhancing the already unique features of our country which will in turn automatically attract tourists.

Also it is very necessary to make people of our own country to realize the treasure of natural and man-made attractions they possess and make them respect it. For our country to progress it’s very important for the citizens of our country to change their attitude, to start seeing the originality and software of our country. To notice the meta – physical aspects and qualities the places in our country possess. The day when our citizens start seeing this hidden beauty and respecting what they have, will be the day when our country will turn from developing to DEVELOPED.

RE-ASSESSING THE URBAN SPACE

I have been staying in Mumbai since my birth. But I am still struggling to try and understand the nature of cities. Thousands of questions rise in my mind every day. What is a city? How did it come into existence? Why do we need cities? Keeping in mind todays pace of globalization, will the city disappear or will the whole planet turn into a vast urban hive?  

According to what I have learnt so far cities are a complex system of people, environment, infrastructure, transport networks, governance and services together. Cities throughout history have been the central hub of activities which has led to increase in migration in the cities all over the world including Mumbai. This increase in density in the cities have rendered the urban space incapable of satisfying the needs of its citizens. This is the start of all problems. This is the point from when our graph of development has stopped progressing and we are still termed as a DEVELOPING COUNTRY.

 

The need for cities in earlier times aroused so that people could have a sense of security, their community could be better defended (particularly if surrounded by a wall and other defensive structures) and served the needs of people to make their living in a world where transportation and communication moved at a very slow pace. But these reasons do not stand valid in today’s context as defense has moved far beyond the town wall and transport and communication has become very fast, varied and convenient.  So now the question is why do we need cities today?  If a remote village can get the almost same facilities as the main city center one doesn’t need to live in the center to participate in an activity.

The incapability of an urban space to suffice the needs of people has now led to decentralization.  Edge cities are formed around the main city. These edge cities have become a larger magnet to the metropolitan area. 

In olden times, people used to live behind their work places. Then as transport developed people started travelling to their work places and now, again people are saturated of travelling to work which has led to the new culture of ‘ Work from home.’

Now is the need to seek a reciprocal relation between these smaller and larger units, based upon each performing the sort of task for which it is uniquely fitted.

The visible city then becomes the indispensable place of assemblage for those functions that work best together when they are superimposed within a close range. A place where meetings and encounters and challenges, as between personalities supplements and reduces again to human dimensions. 1  

 

 

 

  1. The city in  history – Lewis Mumford

ALONG THE JETTY….

Along the jetty...

NATURE AT ITS BEST

NATURE AT ITS BEST

Sky, water and land.

CULTURE : Our link to time

 

All of us live in a society. We all talk about our traditions and culture. Especially, we Indians brag a lot about our so called culture. But have we ever thought about what are these traditions? Where did it all start from? What gave rise to these various cultures which have led to rifts in our society? Why are these traditions so important? Is there still a place for these traditions in today’s globalizing world?  Too many questions …. with very subjective answers to them.

“Culture is a set of shared attributes, values, goals and practices that characterize group of people “, according to my dictionary. Culture is a way of life and it is important as it creates a feeling of belonging and togetherness amongst people in the society.  Over a long period of time, patterns of behavior are changed or modified due to various influences but the change is so inconspicuous that it is not realized until we project the present over the past.

  Again my helpful little dictionary defines tradition as “A transmission of customs from generations to generations.” But definitely there is more to it. Traditions are a way of celebrating life. They are a link between the man and nature.  They exist as fragments of the memory of a time and place. These fragments of memories encapsulates within them generations of knowledge and culture. Traditions are a part of a learning process. As different traditions expand, they overlap, extend, slowly absorbing the new influences and adapting to the present time.

To conclude, I would like to say that traditions are a subset of culture. Culture is propagated, tradition is the medium of propagation and it is the man who propagates it.  

In today’s globalizing world, these cultures are what identify us. Hence, continuing this culture of ours is essential as it acts as a link with the present, preserving the past and protecting the future.