‘I am the flute, music is thine’

Knowing how little I know about the science of architecture, I was intrigued when I was invited to talk about grassroots innovations to a very interesting, intriguing and inspiring meeting of some of the world’s most famous architects. Rauzia Ally, half Kashmerian,  HALF Keralite , and  Guyanese in some measure, the architect of this meeting, tried to create chemistry of  Sufi traditions, Arabic experiments in combining meditative structures in everyday life by famous Harvard designer, Nader, Czeck frugalist Martin using low cost material to design affordable structures besides lovely icons for his friends who could just thank in place of fees, and of course Brazilian designers of solar structures, tapping into local youthful energy. NASA designer(..) ;  discovered that art of seeing towards sky needs to be resituated on the ground. Wheel chair dancer like Judith( axisdance) created appreciation for spaces they could access and enliven by their creativity, and are not we all disabled in small part, she reminded us.

Rumi’s poetry informed the blend of what Middles east is trying to fathom amidst all the cacophony of extremes, recalled beautifully by Nader. Eastern European design of dome of wood slings was erected in 36 hours in a manner that light is in but not sun rays. Doshi was present through his voice and signatures in the film that Gomez, editor of a famous architecture journal showed. Louis kahn’s disdain for natural light and cross ventilation leading to dungeon like corridors and classrooms also came up in the discussion. Notwithstanding, the beauty from outside and highly functional broad corridors came up for discussions too. One did not miss how elbow rest arch windows facilitated dialogue and discussion among the willing discoursists at iima building.  I had nothing to share except the  lessons we learned during  thousand of miles of shodhyatras, lessons someday our youth might like to revisit.

What was most significant was absence of how to bring non-human sentient beings in side our homes and gardens. The example of bird feeding platforms ( chabutaras)  which many people from north Gujarat have outside their homes in Ahmedabad  was a telling commentary on what modern deigners in India also are missing out. We work hard to innovate how to keep birds out of our structures rather than finding places for them to be in and enrich our lives.  The squirrels and peacocks are an obstruction to expansionist and consumerist spirit. Recently parrots had a feast of sapotas, and langurs had a  party of organic  tomatoes in my garden at iima, and gardener was apologetic about this celebration. But I asked myself, what would I do then, barricade my garden, enclose all the vegetables inside a green house for birds to look at but not devour? How do I pay for the life and vitality they brought to our life when they partook in the natural growth? Can we create urban garden where surviving wildlife will have party?  Can we have baskets of vegetables on roadside trees for children to see and learn how plants grow and for monkeys and birds to have their fill when fruits and pods  come? Can we make it obligatory for every school and office and mall building to provide some space for urban gardens, a wall for fold artists to show their creativity, and a place for poetry and pottery to be displayed? How else will finer arts, cultural traditions,  and nature become embedded in our psyche? Is asking for one wall per building for rural and urban folkloric artists too much? If it is, then let us at least a global and national consensus on creating a graveyard of all traditional art, architectural and artisanal traditions in every city and put a lock on its doors so that no younger person even by mistake visits these graves and get inspired! Inspiration can be insurrectional, imagination can breed insurgency.  Don’t let breeze of  grassroots innovations ever pass through your homes and working spaces, let pollution of ‘pristine’ nature not occur, and let popular mind be not infected by virus of  sustainable forms, functions, features. Ah! Mandarins, Quarantine the curiosity!

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