Piya Milan Chowk

‘Bhai, PMC mein milna theeke na?’ translates into Brother, meet me at the junction where lovers meet.

And where is this PMC? Well its at the center of my college. And its like the cerebrum of all activity. Its a roundabout before the Admin block which is where all the main college-streets lead to (in some way or the other). And that’s where friends were made, watchmen slept, meetings were held, people were eyed, Girls’ Hostel Buses were parked etcetera.

We were about five thousand students belonging to more than a dozen departments. And PMC was where we’d gather. There were other places – the BBC (Basketball court), the LTC (Lawn tennis court which was actually a chewed-out clay court), Coffee-shop (which is just a tiny stall which sold instant-coffee and junk food to meet varying collegiate needs), Back-Gate (which qualifies to be an adda) and the canteen (where the ground-floor was dedicated to those who actually ate and the first-floor mostly had people who had nowhere else to go and didn’t want to run into the faculty). Oh we did have a library but it wasn’t such a common meeting place unless and until you planned to study (or sleep) in the Annex.

I wonder why I’m writing about it today. Is it because half of the people I met there (definitely not as piyas) have drifted to faraway continents or are in the process to do so? Is it because I will never forget the day my Dad and I walked into the College (well, the never-ending infinity road starting from the main-gate directly leads you to …no reward for guessing…the PMC) and I had finally realised that my twelve years of education led me to this place. Ah, that kid then. Or maybe the pictures clicked there on various ethnic days will never be clicked again (or found – I’m sure I’ve lost most of them in miscellaneous drives), the mosquito-filled evenings we’ve spent waiting for the second bus to pick us up or the fountain that worked only once in a blue moon with its colorful lights. I’m sure most people graduated even without seeing it in all its glory due to its rare usage. Or perhaps I yearn to walk under the ever-spreading canopy of the Umbrella Thorn Trees (at least that’s what I called them and fooled my friends for four long years).

I’ll never meet Aryan in his baggy clothes waiting to meet us whenever he dropped by college. I’ll never see the cute-guys (like one out of five) play basket-ball in the court across the road. I’ll never walk by the juniors waiting for the bus with my troupe of cackling monkey-friends who were probably laughing at some seriously retard joke I must have cracked. I’ll never see Komi fly his balsa wood planes with his team there. I’ll never get to sit there with my friends as we’d see daylight turn to dusk as we’d wait for something else. I’ll never ask the auto-wallah to take a left from PMC to reach my departments, I’ll never run by it with arms-full of sheets with my classmates and I’ll probably never stand in a sari with my two best friends, Rhea and Mouli, clicking our last picture together before our final speeches on behalf of our departments. Ah PMC did hold a lot of meaning in its own way. I will never know why it was named so but I think I’ll never forget the happiness it brought on my face when my friends and I would decide to meet up there to hatch some new craziness after college.

Arrividerci SIT and its survivors.

 

 

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Charles Correa – An Elusive Image

          “The complex and ambiguous relationship between man and nature is central to Indian Architecture.”

Charles Correa (1930 – 2015)

Bold openings introducing you into the mind of a Master whose simplistic approach to finding contextual answers for urban issues, challenges our very own understanding of spaces. The way one Hall leads you to a stepped-central courtyard impacts the way you perceive things – his work moves you; pushes you and at the same time defines the program with a form, flawlessly. Sensitivity gives character to an Architect’s work. Capturing this feeling in built form is one the many talents Correa possessed.

Intangibility – the entire idea of it consumes the mind as it finds a way to trap it within the physical realm so it can be revealed to another. This trapping is an art-form wielded by the Master to bring life into his buildings. One such element is Light.

Light in its myriad of playful forms – the harbinger of sight- is one the most intangible elements in Architecture. If scanty it blinds us and on the other extreme, it glares. To keep it from scorching us in its entirety- channelling its beauty into a spatial form- activating its ability to make someone feel is a ruse that Correa applies in many of his creations.

Close your eyes, expecting nothing, stand underneath the pergola and let time pass you by. As the sun makes its journey across the cone, the way light falls upon you in a pattern heating a portion of your skin while the next is a shaded strip, brings your senses alive. The alternative bands of sensation make you see even though you have closed your eyes to light. That is the magic of arresting the intangible.

To evoke emotions similar to the ones ebbing within you is a talent of its own. This sets apart the Actor, the Artist, the Performer and the Architect – the Director of space- from a common observer. Beams of sunlight that filter through the gaps between the thatches and the morning sunlight entering the kitchen window inciting the tendrils of smoke rising from the boiling-milk into a smooth waltz, have a natural splendour of their own. Sun light has always been a focus in traditional architecture -be it purifying water tanks in Agraharas; bringing life to membranes by turning them translucent or as a means to portray symbolism. Charles Correa brought dynamism in the Static by bringing light into play- in all of the element’s forms translating traditional motives into contemporary milieu.

Exposure- the very word launches in your mind images of doors opening as two districts conjoin via the Threshold – the element of transition. Exposure creates form, creates movement just like your pupil dilates as you recede away from light and contracts as you bask in it.

Correa’s spaces are characterized by the experience they provide you as he varies the level f exposure from open-to-sky spaces to shaded porches and pergola-covered terraces. The shadier, more intimate corners ease you as you feel protected by the scale of them- the walls backing you up. A mezzanine platform that you’re perched upon- turns into a realm of your own as you personalize it because of its exclusivity in spatial terms. But as soon as you walk into vast, open courts- where the lightest breeze can rouse a tingle in your spine- the space affects you according to your persona. You’re either intimidated by its agoraphobic scale or stimulated so that your mind breaks through the shell and a barrage of thoughts rush past you- consume you­. Or you recede into a pocket of your own- customizing a haunt of your own to reflect deeply.

When you look around the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, a playful Lord Krishna playing his  basuri– painted in hues of black and white- on a boldly coloured wall is a sight you see after climbing a railing-less staircase edged to a wall. The vitality in such art- the Vastu Purusha stretching over the concave curvature of a dome or the stripes adorning the British Council building at various levels and staggered faces of the facade- have a language of their own. They speak to every viewer in a tone suited to their liking, under the broad umbrella of Correa’s objective of their creation.

Art in Architecture is a phrase that comes into play not only in two dimensional manifestations but are also ingrained multi-dimensionally like the way the spiral staircase is articulated  in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Centre in Pune. Materials bring unity while the colours he chooses mirror the intended vibrancy of the spaces. Colours activate a stimulus in our system that we respond in insentience. Our mind has pre-associated generic colours attached to nostalgia. And when they show up, our environment transforms within our mind frame.

Correa provides spaces that mean different things to different people through his artistry. And that is how he complements the multi-faceted yet unique nature of the humankind.

Visual connections transcend physical barriers. You can lunge forward into a space just by looking at it. Your conscience can be hauled from where you stand to where you want to be if you can simply see it.Correa’s Levels do that to their users. Being present but at the same time, detached from the activity around you just because you’re at a different pedestal is a bequest Correa offers to you.

The ethereal elements that he believed connect humans to their surroundings as life progresses – the Light, the Exposure, Colours, Visual Play and the plethora of emotions that they stir up in us evolving our capacity to experience spaces as they are subtly intended to- are elements that Correa’s Architecture is conducive to.

His will to defy norms where he believed they needed tweaking; inspire change, to respond to multi-layered contexts both climatologically and culturally, keeping in mind the larger scope of things led him into being the phenomenon that he will forever be remembered as. He is the personality Our Architectural Era will be remembered by.

The gems he has left with us will be sewed in the tapestry we, as his successors, create and pass on as our collective legacy.

 

(Article for The Indian Arch Magazine 2016 by NASA, India)

 

Sunday Serve

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The Classmates. L-R: Myself, Jois, Hrishi and Priyo

This officially marks that its been two weeks since Joining Date. The rooms are set, more or less and we’re getting used to the week’s grind of Design, Urban Planning, Landscape and Interior design plus the electives. Some major work this semester because we are in the final semesters of Collegiate education. Next year is all practical-real-time work . There are other things like laundry and maintenance that also need your attention unless you like living like Shrek, that is. Entertainment comes in diluted forms of watching movies (Malayalam being my Choice of The Month) or just talking to friends sitting on stairs. Whatsapp consumes far too much time than I can spare. Hostel lunch during the weekends suck but the rare weekday lunch of ladies fingers and potatoes and the Friday idli-vada-sambhar comfort us enough to let the issue go. 

Just last Sunday we were all celebrating my classmate’s birthday in CCD and then we drove up to DD Hills which was a blissful experience. We sat there on huge boulders until the sun set, the clouds rolled by drizzling on us and the stars came up. We had tea in a stall while driving down; dinner at a famous restaurant in Khyatsandra before getting dropped at the Hostel almost at Curfew hour. I can’t believe its been a week, since that.

I simply don’t understand how Sunday rushed by. I remember waking up at around 5AM, thanks to mosquitoes (someone left the door open the previous evening) and replying to some message. I thought I’ll just sleep a little bit more and suddenly its 8:41AM and we rush for breakfast.

I spoke to The Parents and read a few blog posts by friends listening to Teena Marie…and suddenly my classmate enters and she’s like, ‘Let’s go for lunch.’ Its 12:27. Though yes, I got to read some great blogs. Today I focused on Ex-army and Fauji wives’ tales : Aditi Mathur and Vikram Karve Sir. And of course, Farooq-Sreesha-Shyvish and my other Indiblogger mates’ blogs. I honestly wish I read more. Arundhati Roy is staring at me from my table, ‘You use my cover as background for new ear-rings for Instagram but you can’t read a dozen pages a day from me!’

The iPod is charged so say hello to songs from the yester-years of my life. I can’t get over The Science of Sleep’s haunting background score.

I mean, are you KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? We get one day to recoop and even that goes by so quick. I’m already worried about pending assignments and submissions. Saavu addikeraanga pa! I just pat myself for being alive. Oh and did I tell you, I still have a bit of laundry left and there’s oil in my hair that needs washing off? Oh and we have some NASA work to tend to, too. Oh and did I tell you I was writing poetry until 2AM. What is up with me?

Hoping we get things done on time. I’ve still not watched Irrfan Khan’s AIB video that’s making the rounds.

ANYWAY. Hope you had a great week. And will have a nice one, too. Send some love. I could really do with oodles of it.

Architect Sangeet Sharma in his book ‘Architecture, Life and Me’ writes: “Buildings must have a silent narrator. They must hold your hand and take you along the journey while narrating all those violent flushes of the heart that made the architecture of that building come alive. I do not build to exemplify the philosophy of my life and I am not on the path to prove myself; I am here to please myself. I leave a silent narrator on my buildings so that he does the talking, and works as a mute guide. While I, the architect, will slowly be shunted into oblivion… until the user of the space is compelled to inquire about its architect, the endeavour is incomplete.”

Interesting Title

I'm wearing the black tee if you can see me looking all enthu-cutlet when I'm actually a nervous wreck doing breathing exercises in my head. Shanti.
I’m wearing the black tee if you can see me looking all enthu-cutlet when I’m actually a nervous wreck doing breathing exercises in my head. Shanti.

I have enough work to fill the entire Sankey Tank but I will sit before my laptop reading blogs; thinking of tweets to make people laugh; getting lost in BuzzFeed; worrying about work et all. And honestly, I hope Dad is not reading this because he will not be too happy to see me chilling in blogosphere when I told him I’m going to be taking rest when I’m not pounding away in the grounds or working on college-stuff.

So today, we had this Departmental Exhibition and Quiz along with a Presentation by the Eighth semester students on their projects for Ethos and Saint Gobain’s joint venture. I still remember sitting in the middle row, watching my seniors battle it out to win the quiz and wonder how they managed it. And suddenly, a year later, there I was writing the preliminary test for the same quiz’s next edition. I kinda knew my team comprising of a senior Sahaana (humblest ever), my hyper self and Faizu, my junior, could make it through the Qualifiers but then that was just about it. We entered the top six of about thirty something teams and then my seat caught fire.

Sitting before an entire department of students of which 120 of them are your juniors, is a bit nerve-racking because you’ve officially signed up to make a fool out of yourself if you go too wrong. Anyway, one by one as the rounds passed by I learnt that I do retain a lot even post exams and that reading helps a LOT. And so does inquisitiveness. All those hours I spent reading Architectural articles or browsing through projects did not go in vain. Ha! Okay enough showing off. My senior was pretty amazing, too. And so was Faizu for her level. As a junior you are bound to get dazed by all that information. When we were declared, I was euphoric. I get competitive, a little more than I should, at times. I’m flawed, I’m human. Go!

After the excitement started washing down I realized life moves on and that we have design tomorrow so we began work.

Sixth semester began like two weeks ago and we’ve already given submissions. You can imagine the pace at which we are progressing. I wish sleep was optional because I find it to be a hindrance in my work-schedule. I’m sure others will agree. Speaking like a workaholic, aren’t I? I wish.

Also, because today was so Happening, I woke up to my first crush’s Engagement pictures. God, am I public about such things. But I’ve grown since then and now it doesn’t matter. So anyway, he’s getting married at 23 and how adorable the couple is. It was like a bell ringing in my head warning me to Not pay attention to frills, fancies and crushes as well, temporary they are. In an ideal world, great things happen. But for us crazy ones, everything has its own way of manifesting in our life, don’t you think?

I bought strawberries the other day for forty bucks. Heavenly they were. Tomorrow, grapes. There are two oranges lying on my table waiting for attention but I’m actively ignoring them. Why? I wonder myself. 

In other news, I’m absolutely tired of BJP vs AAP tweets. What’s congress doing midst all the drama? I don’t really care. Not like I don’t care about the nation’s politics. I’ve just had enough of it through all feeds. Somewhere in between the Government is frying the All India Bakchod Roast, also. Like, seriously? 

My short stay in Bengaluru has inspired me to start watching Rugrats again. How many of you remember our old Nickelodeon Serials and all? Revisiting some classics through slow hostel wi-fi when Architecture permits.

Well that’s today’s quick update. Task for you : to let me know if your life has too many strings, too? 

And if you’re looking to do something: Watch 90’s TV Ads from India. So entertaining, oh God!

Arrividerci