Tuesday, October 25, 2005


We often take our freedom of expression (speech) and movement in the city for granted, almost to an extent that we do not even realize that of lately YOU are allowed only in your house (have you ever been interrogated by your own society’s security guard?) and your workspace where you are allowed only because of your identity card (a piece of paper with your photograph and position in the labour pyramid authenticated by the royal seal and signature of the capitalist landlord of the place)…oh! And I forgot completely the circulation corridors between your house and workspace.
Here is something you can do:

Choose a part of a development plan it could be any place your locality, your in-laws house or the area where you got bitten by stray dogs…. any area.

1) Find out all the places like top-secret government building-like things (places that your locality is sometimes known by but no one has seen those places or even knows what they do). By government buildings I mean places of high security like water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, nuclear plant etc. Now colour these places black because these will be places you will never see in your life except for a glimpse on the horizon (unless your preprimary school decided to take you to one such place or you successfully convinced the government officials that you wouldn’t blow it).

2) Now that lets say 15 percent of your plan is painted black, lets find out all the private properties in your area, all those having the board “trespassers will be prosecuted” or better still “beware of dogs”…now now don’t think this to be a capitalist invasion some people have more money, they too pay fair taxes and can still afford to own humongous pieces of land in your vicinity of course you wont be allowed there.

3) Now that 15 + 35 = 50 percent of land is coloured black, places where legally you wont be allowed lets us find places where you cant go (either because your economic status does not qualify you as an elite or because you have moral problems with capitalist, multinational corporate giants controlling the world; both of which are serious issues). If you are sensitive enough you have guessed it right (if not you are still sucking on that soft drink as you read this) I am talking about all the pubs, “joints”, international five star hotels, all the coffee shops selling exotic herbal coffee with extra froth (and a waiter who does a tap dance for your entertainment). Please colour these places black. For making sense of this point please colour them black for now though you might be rich enough to own all these places and might have traveled the world, and you eat in French restaurants and bathe with mineral water. So now 50 + 15 = 65 is the number.

4) Now comes a new genre of buildings these are huge candy coloured residential skyscrapers with historical motifs on the elevation and water tanks so elaborately done that it seems as if the architect decided to “design” when the building was over and water tank construction started. Anyways these are the new co-operative societies that employ highly qualified security personnel. You can’t pass through no matter what. I have heard even the maidservants are provided identity cards. No this place isn’t for you “security reasons”! These are spaces, which suffer from compulsory obsessive security syndrome well equipped with security personnel, security alarms, security intercoms, security burglar system etc.

5) Now that you, I assume have coloured more than 90 percent of the plan black you will realize that there are very few places within the city which are truly public, places open for all, places which people from all sections of the society will visit. Just to make you feel a little bit more sad about your existence here I dare to sadistically point out that these days even the roads are places where your presence is marginalized or completely ignored, there are very few places which have footpaths so assuming you don’t own a car please colour the roads where your pedestrian existence is insulted as black; but out of sheer sympathy for your sorry state I give you the liberty to colour it in a lighter shade (greyish-pink if that shade exists).

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

City: Mumbai

Once upon a time, a time not very distant future or the past, but somewhere in between, in a city peopled by different communities, cultures and classes, occurring together…
Infrastructure spun within it like veins and arteries connecting it to the lakes, the sea and its palpitating heart. To the west was an orb, which glowed and produced energy for the city.
Forest found refuge in the centre, with walls broken in parts and remnants of histories collaged in the center of the forest, in the form of caves dotting the cliffs as slithering path wound itself along the stony hillocks. A forest surrounded by a mega polis. Sometimes the forest would invade the city and other times the city would intrude into the forest, waging an undying battle of man and nature.
South of forest few distances away is a slum, a collage of cultures, materials and activities.
A machine with different parts alive, coexisting, symbiotically and parasitically like a complex organism evolved towards being in a constant state of metamorphosis.
The eastern coast of the city lay bare with concrete, rust and oil stains with machines and men alike, working in cohesion rusting, decaying…and dying.
The 5 lakes of the city provided the city with water.
Water all around the edge forms a jagged profile, at times entering inside the city like roots branching and sub branching in the soil, forming creeks and marshy areas. Strange trees with roots popping out grow in these marshy wastelands where, small animals and birds find solace on the city’s edge.
In the older parts of the city, lie ruins of not very distant past, when the city played an important role in the manufacturing of fabrics…fabrics which spun through machines handled by men, both working in unison to become one. In the hay days the fabrics made were magical, as they clittered clattered out of steel machines eating spindles and spindles of yarn and sometimes even an unfortunate worker’s limb. When this happened the mill would be closed and the stained bale of cloth would be ripped and thrown into the ponds to decompose. Every mill had a pond.
The concrete roads flow through the city narrowing and widening, as they rise and fall on the ground, swirling and looping going through different parts of the city…narrowing and widening…like choked arteries.
The railway lines mark three distinct sharp scar like marks on the surface of the city as seen in the geological maps as they cut through built forms, slums, hills, and everything that once might have come in their way reducing it to gravel under their thundering tracks.
The inner city, also known as the suburbs, a collage of developed, developing and undeveloped lands, with housing interspersed with the green cover. In some parts tall brightly colored towers rise up above the sprawl of housing and roads.
On the western coast the city gradually slopes down to the sea forming distinct sandy coastlines. The city has 2 clear sandy coastlines that curve inwards.
The city also houses villages within it, in pockets and crevices of developments, along the waterfront, belonging to the fishing folk, the keepers of forgotten history, the treasurers of enchantments, the makers of the boats of our dreams, stand on the horizon waiting, with an eye to the sea. 
The city has a wide range of markets, most of them selling fish, nuts, taps, cloth, animals, fruits, flowers, diodes and many other things which reveal themselves in the constantly shiftings of the market within itself, as it arranges and rearranges itself with respect to the things it sells and the seasons.
It is a constantly changing city, mutating, adapting and most importantly living.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I have got selected for the fellowship program in my college, something that I was looking forward to…actually lets say banking on. I think it is a nice opportunity to try my hand at research and teaching, some things that I always wanted to do. Also I think it will give me enough time for introspection and getting rid of all the hang ups I have in life in general. Lets see…. For now our unending mission to seek new life forms and civilizations and boldly go where no boy has gone before continues…

p.s. It’s a little lonely up here…but the fantastic view compensates that rather well…I must say…

Sunday, July 17, 2005

landmark painting Posted by Picasa


I happened to work with Rohan and Amit for the ‘landmark’ competition of recently. We sent our entry yesterday. Our sheet looks a “happy” sheet according to Rohan and I too think it has come out quite nice. Its filled with colours and drawings of the city imagined (we didn’t take on ground interviews). There certainly is something about taking part in competitions, which I thoroughly enjoy…
I remember Paul talking about competitions during (Vardha competition) as how they ‘activate thought processes’ and ‘generate’ lot of ‘+ve energy’ in college. When I was working with Shantanu, (during Kharghar competition) he talked about how competitions are the only way of entering mainstream practice for new firms; monopolized by builders and just too many architects out there to take away any project headed your way. During the Banganga competition we as a group had great fun designing the building and continue to do so (and at the same time get jolts of insecurities of some big shot architect pulling a “marine drive” on us).

I think these architectural competitions allow a certain democracy within the system for everyone interested to voice their opinions at the least. Then winning, getting selected etc. is a different matter all together. But what is most important is it allows you to express.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Burning Queen's necklace Posted by Picasa
Danger Wall of Geeta nagar
Once again our survey job has taken us to new frontiers of the city. We went to land’s end from the Navy nagar side, a thin 2m wide bund wall which extends 1.5 to 2 km (a billion decameters for all you know) into the sea bringing you almost to the center of the backbay area with sea on both sides. It was fantabulous. When we asked a local resident for directions he warned us of the dangerous residents of a slum called Geeta nagar who hang around there and advised me not to go there with “lady log” (Namrata). But we decided we should go there and see…

It was amazing, the local residents did give us some looks but beyond that they did not mind. So we got to see the safer NCPA and Queen’s necklace and the rest of the safe city, from dangerous Geeta nagar side. Not only that, one of the dangerous resident who happened to be a taxiwalla decided to give us a lift till colaba.
We asked him the dangers of staying in that locality; he seemed to be most scared of the sea, which rises during monsoon high tides and floods their houses.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Batman’s view from top of a light pole!
I have taken up the responsibility of someone’s surveying job not because “I generally do these jobs” as a colleague of mine put it but thought “lets see...” (Also because I intend to use the data in a research paper I am attempting to write). I don’t understand why do jobs like surveying, model making and 3d rendering have such a big (social, cultural, political etc. choose your pick) stigma attached. Is that a sign of lesser intelligence?

But anyways to all you people who thought surveying Cuffe Parade is boring (and beyond their intellectual standards) we landed up in a BEST Mac Lift buckets thanks to Namrata who requested aamchi Mumbai BEST kamgars who were only too happy to take both of us to the top of the world !

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Urban Floop

Yes i have reloaded the blog...
Decided to stick to the old name...i think it is phonetically interesting; breaks the seriousness of 'urban'...imagine the blog being 'urban research' or something like that. A little bit more phenomenological theorizing on 'floop' and i might just be able to push it in the oxford.
Urban Floop will be an experiment, archive and other things big and small that shall occupy my interest and I may want to record, retain, share beyond the scope of my short term memory...some postings may be vaguely related to something personal but I shall try to steer clear of personal day to day acts, grievances and courtships as I can knowing this to be a sort of balcony/terrace space...dwelling between semi public- semi private...some place vague.
Urban Floop will be a combined effort of all my confusions, misinterpretations and blind ambitions to create something vaguely fun to read...though at times I may take to using footnotes in order to assure the authenticity of the sources but mostly it will be true and everything will work out all right...