Sunday, December 18, 2011

My stupid mouth

How many times does it happen to you that you just realize after saying something that it was not appropriate/ needed/ crap? Regretting right after sending an email that you know would be read not as you had intended it to. When you really wished there was an undo button. But, of course, you can’t do shit. You try and fix it only to screw up further. It happens to me very frequently, say, once in 2-3 days. My friends call it my social dyslexia. And believe me, it’s not funny to sit back wishing you had just been a little more careful. And I die an inch every time it happens. It’s a pathetic feeling.

PS.  Even though I am not a lyrics person at all, I really connect with John Mayer’s writing; he was at his best in Continuum.   Excerpts from one of his songs, that couldn’t describe the situation better. I hope you are listening/ reading this.

Kaman se Nikla Hua Teer
My stupid mouth
Has got me in trouble
I said too much again....

Oh, another social casualty
Score one more for me
How could I forget?
Mama said "think before speaking"
No filter in my head
Oh, what's a boy to do
I guess he better find one soon....

And I could see clearly, An indelible line was drawn
Between what was good, what JUST slipped out and what went wrong...

I'm never speaking up again

It only hurts me
I'd rather be a mystery
Than she desert me

Oh I'm never speaking up again
Starting now... Starting now

One more thing
Why is it my fault?
So maybe I try too hard
But it's all because of this desire
I just wanna be liked
I just wanna be funny
Looks like the jokes on me
So call me captain backfire

I'm never speaking up again
it only hurts me
I'd rather be a mystery
than she desert me

oh i'm never speaking up again
i'm never speaking up again
i'm never speaking up again
Starting now, starting now...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Visual language

An interesting attempt to create symbols for commonly used nouns. Their search tab is pretty handy and the overall feel is oh so crispy Helvetica! My curiosity led to some cool-ass results and a lack of some others (love, war, food, bed, work,). Some results just made me sad but only made me realize that this is the reflection of our times.  
Wordweb further helped clear things in my head.
Noun: A content word that can be used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality, or action.
Icon: A visual representation (of an object, scene, person or abstraction) produced on a surface
Ideogram: A graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it
An attempt is here but not really universal. The open source, creative commons nature of the project is only helping the cause positively. However, a very limited dictionary yet  but a safety filter so sound there are no surprises, maybe a very good thing for a pictogram design (that the image is  familiar and rings a bell I the direction of the root word). But still, largely first world centric. Maybe, the key is in the representation of not the object, but its essence, of not making icons but ideograms.  
How awesome would the world be when a picture could replace words? Can we ever develop visual language for the entire world devoid of prejudices and pre-experiences? Can visuals really talk?

 Also, I chanced upon one BRILLIANT EXAMPLE  just in the middle of writing this post!!!! such good timing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Diwali Spirit

Caught up in the grey of contemporary life (my dissertation hangover), still sore from a not so great design submission that I made in the afternoon, tired from the previous night’s work and 2 hours of sleep, I was on my way back when my mom called up and told me it was Dhanteras. Diwali was here but nothing around me was festive. My body’s clock had been caught in the rut. There was no sense of place, of season. As Varun dropped me halfway to my place, both of us were talking about how sleepy we were, and how much more eventful the next month and a half was going to be, with final juries among other things. Covering the last leg of my journey, on a cycle rickshaw, I crossed a mall bathed in yellow light, a neighbourhood market spilling out with hawkers selling funky lamps, diyas, rangoli and what not, apartment blocks brimming with little and big trails of blue red and yellow bulbs, and also scores of happy faces, glowing in the spirit of the festival.  Diwali is to India what Christmas is to West. And Yellow is to Diwali what Red is to Christmas. I just realized the role festivals play in rejuvenating our lives periodically, marking the onset of seasons, and, in get our bodies and minds to connect with our surroundings again with the plethora of layers of mythology that enrich them. They appear to me as brilliantly designed mechanisms. And for Diwali, the tool is yellow, and it had never shone so bright before. Yellow. In the funky paper bag I’ve had with me since the weekend, my apartment where renovation just finished recently (right before Diwali), the new book that I have begun to read today, and the warm autumn morning sunshine that comforts a cold Delhi Metro commuter, who wonders whether the temperatures have been intentionally kept low for us to realize the value of the sunlight after the train goes subterranean.  realize is the best verb ever! It makes me happy. Happy Diwali!
Acknowledgements to the cycle rickshaw for making neighbourhood travel an enriching experience, with travel speeds being just right for one to watch, observe, sense and absorb the environment at the same time.
In case if you do doubt, all photographs by the author.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mental Map

Ever since in architecture school, the process of mapping (reading and drawing plans) has been a frequent one. In these years, the little architecture of the world that I have exposed myself too, figuring spatial patters, etc. has been more than an interest, a habit. It would be very difficult to detach it from my perception today, free myself of the prejudices that my mind has, when I look at places now. So, I chose to map, my place of residence for 14 years, an industrial housing colony, sitting in an anonymous piece of rural India before I moved to the city when I was 15. I was not born here but started walking here and spent my formative years in this self sufficient oasis in the middle of nowhere, but that part didn’t matter to me so much.

The things about the place I remember the most were, perhaps, the ones that were suddenly taken away from me by the bigness of life city. Every morning, we would leave for school at 7:30 AM from my home, for school that began at 7:40 AM. We would walk (run usually; I have always had a major punctuality issue). The shortest walking path to school would cut across through the employee’s Club House and garden, pass by a different row of houses and a little piece of land always shaded in a thick canopy of trees. And on your way, you’ll meet all your friends from the neighborhood. Everyone (mostly) was your friend. Everyone, at least knew everyone. There was ease. There was familiarity (or maybe I just got used to that life). Mostly, everything was at walk able   distance, clean metalled roads (only the main ones two lane) with virtually no cars. We only needed to drive to the nearby city (an hour and half away) to buy clothes and other things that the local market won’t keep (for example Hershey’s chocolate syrup). Cycling in town was easy; I would cycle to my math tuitions in the other side of the town.

The journey to my math tuition was the only time I would venture into the ‘other side’ of town. As soon as I would cross the main road, it would start getting unfamiliar (not uncomfortable though), the density of houses increased while their sizes of plots and front gardens shrunk. Except for a few school friends’ homes, I can’t recall the rest of it today. But I remember the main road being wide enough to notionally cut across the sparse settlement. I faintly remember it being two lane, but giving an impression of four. But along with that opinion also appears the fact that all public utilities, the main market, the hospital, the bigger school, the swimming pool, the stadium, the auditorium, the main temple, the Durga Puja grounds, were all along this main road, the central axis that brought the two towns together, I realize on afterthought. It dawned on me only recently; the dynamics of designing Industrial townships, providing inclusive living environments for the both the executive and technician designations, and the place didn’t do a bad job of it.

 The main road would also transform into a linear Mela ground, during the time of Dussehra, the only time the nearby villagers were allowed inside the tall boundary walls. The walls were tall enough to never let us see the other side of the story, and only use imagination to paint the picture. It gave a sense of protection and insecurity at the same time, perhaps the latter more intensely than the former, a peculiar but distinct memory. But outside the gates were also the subzi mandi and the sugarcane juice wallah that our parents would take us to, once in a blue moon. Despite the main market stocking all consumables, an occasional trip to the mandi was certainly refreshing, perhaps our only encounters with the realities of earthy rural (natural) life. Going too far away from the sight of the main gates would also be intimidating too, only increasing the unfamiliarity and discomfort factor exponentially.

Familiarity was in the linearity of things around, the rectangle-ness, of the single storey bungalows with front and rear setbacks the size of the apartment I live in presently, in the comfort of single lane roads lined with big trees on either side, and hierarchy that it followed for more public areas (whatever we later studied to be the ideal Grid iron pattern of settlement layout), in the uniformity in the color combination that every house was painted in. in the same window grille design and door handles for every house, so shifting houses didn’t hurt that much.

What surprises me the most is the fact that, today in the apartment block I live in, my comparative physical proximity to the neighborhood has increased potentially, but it has only inversely reflected on my social interaction with my surroundings.  Was it the success of everyone’s parents working with the same company? Was it the lack external engagement opportunities then? Other complicated planning theories and principles that affected my behavioral patterns as an individual growing up in the neighborhood? Or, simply put, am I just not a kid anymore?

Rohan Patankar