#TheDozenDozen

I want to share about where this particular hashtag comes into my life and why it resonates with me. I thrive only in a relationship of creation and the freedom that it offers is what resonates with me the most!

I’ve been known in the US friend circle as the DIY’er of  groups, but honestly, its more than just doing-it-yourself!  I’ve embodied this skill by growing up in such an environment in my childhood.

Picture this: Our four seater teak wood dining table was the heart of our home. My dad used to be the only one to use it for eating, my mom would convert it into her seamstress and tailoring table, I would sit and make doodles while picking and separating methi leaves from its tiny twigs. Akka would be doing her painting or laces at the other corner, the radio constantly running and our beloved dog chella making trouble once in a while. Paati would be sitting and drawing her latest kolam in her book and rambling away her shlokams. Tatha would be standing outside at the compound wall smoking his single cigarette for the day before he went off on his walk. So now you know, the energy of projects, relationships and home for me is right there in that scene.

Lets zoom back to now. My skills for sketching, crafting, creating, curating, cooking, making, etc. comes from my home, watching paati, amma and akka and me get all excited about the next project to create and complete. It still is the order of the day between us.

So here I am, sitting in California, in the summer of 2018 making hay while the sun shines. My garden projects are in full effect, my home remodel work is on its way, I’ve taken to the water with ease for the first time.

But I still have to create impact. I still need to find meaning to #TheDozenDozen. An so the journey begins.

A free press for democracy

First, go read “A Free Press Needs You” article and come back here.

A. We’re you able to read the article?

If yes, then scroll down to my story.

If no, then please subscribe to the NY times, read it and then come back.

………………………….

Now that you read the article, I want to share my sentiment on reading the request. It pisses me off that all news channels and break room videos and other media are all about Trump, as if the world does not have other things going on!

The US can be so self-absorbed that they have no clue whatsoever about anything else but themselves. I was privy to this when I was working in India and now am faced with this on an hourly basis in the US.

I value freedom of speech, it’s the core of our democratic system. We need to protect it, participate in it and then go find what we are passionate about to write about it. What we create occurs in language. It’s how we have our governments, our countries and it’s people. To not participate is to go back into the man cave, into the wild and live like animals.

To share our lives on social media, be it in celebration or to shake up entire nations, we need to take responsibility for our actions. It may be fast paced and it all might throw us off at first, but we are going into a faster world, and we’re need to learn to catch up.

Let’s determine why we need to take action on the request to subscribe to a newspaper, for example, like the article says. Do we not belong to a society? Are we all not being influenced to vote via social media? Well, let’s be aware of this power that is part of our lives and belong to a place where we can reflect.

We have the right to call the fake news and we have the right to make the world a better place. Let’s protect the freedom that our forefathers fought hard for. And let’s collectively take global impacts seriously, be it climate, Twitter debates or hate.

I keep this blog alive so I can come to share these thoughts and feelings. I work in local government, I see the impact it has on our lives everyday.

B. Go to my Instagram @rad_array and follow/comment/thank me for telling you how to spend the fifteen (three Starbucks coffee?!) dollars in improving your life by subscribing to a local newspaper.

Your welcome!

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#freedom #radindiscity #freedomofspeech #democracy #indian #usa #press #writers #callforfreepress #callforfreedom #democraticworld

Happy Aug 15! Read on about my rant in suburbia.

Postcard from the daycare! So proud! I got my smile for today, and it sticks from eat it ear. Miss you, my India, you will live within my spirit forever. It’s hard to be physically far away from the celebrations and glory we grew up with for this day, the white clothes, the flags, the peaceful spirit of the holiday! India is in my thoughts and action in so many forms. She will always be, it’s hard to explain it, but will live on!
If you resonate with growing up with that spirit I cheer you. This connected world brings us together in so many ways, yet we feel so far away! Tell you what, home is home! No matter what.
I had shared a quote in my Instagram
stories earlier this week. It was from Naipaul on the day of his passing. It rings true to my living here in the US. “What do they call it? Multi-Culti? It’s all absurd, you know. I think if a man picks himself up and comes to another country he must meet it halfway.”

I’m learning to live a new life for the past six years in the Bay Area. And, I’m learning to meet it halfway. But then some days are filled with political turmoil, it makes the Indian National Congress seem more tolerable. Political scenarios aside, it’s the smallest thing about the suburban life that I’ve learnt to live with and without!

I hate not being able to walk to the corner grocery store like we do all the time in India. Our son will always need to be monitored so much in the suburban, only because cars don’t expect to see children play in the streets normally, while in India, vehicles, birds, cows, children, adults, everyone co-exist on the street.

Defining the new street to tranform and include more people should be our priority, particularly in suburban USA.

#HPRMgolu

After prototyping an idea, the next thing you hear in a team is “Great, now lets craft a dozen of them!” and immediately you have an opportunity to build a community of people to come together to make it happen.

I could spend all my creative energy to put a product idea together, prototype and showcase it to a bunch of people in a private curated exhibition such as #HPRMgolu, but that is just my creative outlet.

I like the whole curation effort, I take ultimate liberties with it and always have a blast with it. It’s a ton of work, takes a year of research, finding commission partners, weeks of preparation and a host of other things that lies in the realm of religion and Indian culture.

I always find it very hard to explain this to anyone who is new to Golu. For example, it is called “Golu,” in Tamil. The easiest way I get around that is to extend an invitation to them to come preview the setup and partake in the delicacies. So this year, I’m hoping to host at a gallery nearby and send out open invites to the community.

#HPRMgolu for 2018 is a “Goddess” based theme. Women-empowerment is a classic theme, but my Golu is paying tribute to women all over the world. To embrace diversity like its never old-fashioned, and to enable new friendships using a contemporary version of Indian Golu as a platform for women and connection.

Washington High School Ceramics feature, Fremont Arts and Wine Festival 2018.

The one beautiful stall I was in awe of from yesterday’s visit was the Washington High school ceramic studio at the Downtown Fremont Wine and Arts Festival. It was a quaint and pretty stall with lots of action and plenty of cute and interesting things. I was drawn to it instantly.

I picked up pair of pretty pink small bowls and printed ceramic coffee mugs for the win. For $10 and $8 each, it was a steal, not to mention a good addition to our home collection.
I read that all sales go to improving the ceramic studio at the high school! Score! The famous pottery teacher and his students were the highlight of the stall, jovial, burned out in the sun, but still working on their ceramics as we shopped, fifth year in a row at the festival.That kind of passion and dedication is inspiring. Such a treasure!

I spoke to Mr.Rodenkirk about my project and he gave me a budget to work with and handed me a card to take the idea forward. The studio is a mile from downtown Fremont and I will be visiting soon and will keep you all posted.

My project.
I wanted to make custom paella dishes for rice and biryani for home. I was told that the budget for that might be around $50-60, depending on the type and complexity of design! I might get a 12″ and an 8″ one.

Want some of these ceramics? The festival is still on today in downtown. Go find them else they are going to be at the Mountain View festival of arts on September 8-9th.

If any of you want any custom ceramics, write to me, I can coordinate the project for you too. And I’ll definitely write about the studio visit here. Am super excited!!
#HPRMH #radindiscity #RMstories #downtownfremont #downtownwineandarts #artsfestival #ceramics #crockery #hprmhome #hprmhomeprojects #downtownarts #fremont #mountainview #bayarea

Gardening, impact, scale and community.

When you hear the words “That looks great! lets make a dozen of them!” you instantly build a community of people to come together to make it happen.

I was in conversation with a fellow patio gardener like myself about gardening scale and its impact to the community. We both had a small container garden in our patios, with mostly kitchen veggies and small herbs. It is a small and  manageable garden at a scale that we could manage. The yield is nominal, it is a hobby garden and it brings immense joy and satisfaction to my life. But it was not enough to feed even half a meal per week for even one of our families! Now, if I were to build and grow this garden to feed a community, the task is impossible to do within my home, family or friends. This type of work needs a community. That kind of impact needs dedication and effort.

I’m in awe of local restaurants like StemSF which does exactly the kind of thing that perhaps comes a little close to what can be achieved to the notion of Farm to Table setting.

A historic nursery near our home called the Niles rose garden has a community garden called Fremont LEAF center. One can rent half a planter for $109 per year. This model works at the scale of the local community, to bring them together to participate in a local nursery while gaining yield on their kitchen garden and produce. This might help patio gardeners like me, with the price and the amenities included, it might actually work.

If I were to scale it up, similar to the large swaths of backyard spaces that all the suburban homes have in America, the fact that there is abundant land for community impact is non negotiable. The irony of all of this is that it is private land, where the value of private ownership is so precious that if a single fruit tree gives abundant yield in a given year, not many neighbors even have block parties or go to the nearest farmers market to sell them/give them away to the needy.

The red dot

She bonds with the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi over the chai table.

Come, lets have an honest conversation about the Lady Gods and all our joys and struggles.

While depicting her red-dot on her forehead to be as alive and vibrant as that red planter, I came to work my way around this installation design to hone my story of being an Indian woman outside my home.

Welcome to my world, lets get a cup of chai before we talk, shall we?

 

Naari
Naari at the chai table

Collaboration visual narrative

The sketch is a process narrative to propose a visual aspect to a proposal for a research collaboration that I am currently working on. Although in it’s nascent stages, it will be realized as a inter-continental research program.

Much of our work today always seems to be about pouring into screens while actively communicating with someone across the other side of the globe. Gone are the days where one might be physically and mentally present in the same geographic location!

That’s the advantage of global programs, cross-cultural benefits.

Find interesting

It’s human nature to want to know more, and to try to understand and explain our experiences and reactions. And there’s no denying that the more we know about music, as with cooking or gardening or football, the more levels of enjoyment are available to us, and the better we’re able to recognize great achievement. Do we have to know the Latin names of flowers — or the English names, for that matter — to be moved by the beauty of a garden? No. Do we have to know about blocking schemes and “defensive packages” to be excited when our team scores a touchdown? No. But we find these things … interesting. They add to our appreciation.

A Note to the Classically Insecure https://nyti.ms/2J626t6

Last week, I woke up to the world that was empty and meaningless, and it was the perfect place for me to be in!

Rad at the Landmark Forum

Sharing an excellent article about Yoga and its effects on the Brain! Happy Friday!

We all know that yoga does wonders for the mind. Even novices of asana, pranayama, meditation report feeling increased mental stability and clarity during and after practice. Now, thanks to sophisticated brain imaging technologies, neuroscience is proving what teachers and practitioners have known for ages — that Yoga and meditation can literally change your brain. […]

via How Yoga Change Your Brain Functions — SPOI

Droid man and Zuck woman

Company towns all over again! It did no good for the employers and factory workers back then and it will do no good to the corporate workers now. We need to remind ourselves that these tech workers are humans, with a family and very much an equal part of society as any other. If the global giants are interested to build towns or improve the current situation, they must try to not own but actively participate in the community outside their campus.

Tech workers are married to their companies, always working, right from the minute they step into the shuttle bus that takes them to their ‘campus’ office, till the end of their working life some decades later. In the meanwhile, their life and family suffers because they just don’t have the bandwidth for anything else besides their job, products or people outside their work.

Perhaps exploring various cuisines and traveling the globe is the only other thing they enjoy besides work, but that too comes as a job perk! Aarghh! I see this depressing phenomenon among close family friends and relatives, there is a slow and steady conversion of those folks into dumb workers of <insert giant company name>, where identity of self in society is almost negligible.

These future company towns, if not opened to community at large, is only going to create urban voids in the suburban life of the workers. It will result in more displacement and urban chaos, it will create Zuck-man and Woman, Droid man and woman!

We must be wary, watch out for the machine that we might morph into, and create the right species if at all we go down that hole!

Dirt

Living in the most expensive(and over-rated) regions like the San Francisco Bay Area region of California only means one thing, competitive urban environments! Every person I know is struggling to balance and shift things around in a way that perhaps helps them commute lesser, save time in order to save money. Or they want to move closer to their child’s daycare, school or to either one of their workplace, to maximize their productive work-life every day.

This commute and the struggle everyday means nothing if one were to be in a flux all the time. I sit in front of this computer this cold and wet morning, seeking an outlet for the urban chaos that we are part of in the Bay Area today.

Since the beginning of this year, each day is plunged with competition in the housing market. Most homes in the Bay Area are dated, they need extensive remodeling, or the costs to obtain and beat the purchasing cash giants to maintain and insure some same process is positively exhausting.

To beat it all, seeking a nice modern home environment seems like a distant dream and unattainable for middle class working couples.

The billions of humans that live on this earth only aspire one thing, dirt. A small portion of dirt, on this finite earth with all its finite resources.

“What is the role of an architect today?”

Mr.Doshi added. “Are we going to be service provider working for a client, or are we going to be useful to the masses.

I have saved so many quotes from my early architecture days regarding things that people said about this practice. I want to share some snippets here.

“First life, then spaces, then buildings. The other way around never works.” Jan Gehl

This quote by Jan Gehl is the one thing that makes me stay in the field of urban life.

Some people hate cities, but it’s what I know, it’s where I grew up! Urban life is the life that I know of. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it’s the first that resonates with me. But now, I’m a planner.

And reading up about the highly regulated local governments and working in one in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m torn. I’m seeking validation to the very nature of architecture and what it brings to life within urban spaces.

Pardon my caffeine addiction

To the whole nine months of when I was a child-bearer, I maintained my body free of any harmful toxins, and I was glowing. Roll forward to a sickly toddler and a full time working professional and mother, my toxin levels are so high, almost all of it might be from stress and the grind of everyday working and living!

My retirement fund says I have 17.01 years of work-life left! But I don’t want that so far away, I want to enjoy now, and enjoy well.

I just got back into work horse mode recently and I’m going positively mad! I’m flippantly looking to jump jobs, roles and keep my life new. I crave creative outlet, something that might not happen in this current job.

To top off this rant, the perfect dull stormy weather compliments my current mood. It’s grey, and I’m usually black and white, I’m told! I need to find a new project, soon!

One is all the time looking at financial returns — that is not only what life is,” he said. “I think wellness is missing.

{ My front yard }

I stepped outside wearing a thick silk nine yard saree, braving the cold January morning, to prove that life in California for a South Indian woman could be the same as that she experienced in India. I was determined to draw a kolam on Pongal day in 2013 only because that was one of the few elements I wanted to retain among the many other symbols of our culture. Yes, we are at the point of being able to choose the symbols that represent us…..but I was so wrong then.

I did not draw my kolam in the frontyard as the typical Indian household does, this one was in my patio, surrounded by tall wooden fences that did not invite any neighbor in. I did not draw with kolam powder that is ubiquitous in every household in India, but in chalk.

I have a picture of that day’s kolam, because I wanted to send one to amma, and I remember her telling me to draw a pulli kolam (dot grid kolam.) I look back at that picture and it gives me a sad message. The kolam does not look good at all.

12432589049659030332827.jpg

I have done better, I definitely know better, so here I am, many years later, making dotted kolam drawings of many elements that represent our current times. My kolams are here, in this page. This is my front yard. This space is the one outside my threshold, the place I meet my neighbors and keep in touch with family.