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!

{ 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.

Sankara r2 140407

My experience of an excellent urban design project in my hometown, Bangalore. This theater, called Ranga Shankara, was created by one dedicated person, and it serves whole communities at large, that is the charm of a well-intended and well-designed project! Read on!

Day:  November 8th

Time: 19:25

Location: Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross, J P Nagar, 2nd Phase, Bangalore-560078

Act 1: KA-01 7227 is on its way to Ranga Shankara.

Scene 1: I parked in haste, grabbed a ticket, said hai to someone! Bang [A really LOUD one] Anxious…. Rushed up the flight of stair, entered the arena at 19:29, grabbed my phone and switched it off! [Yes! no silent mode, no vibrator mode, no mode, finally stripped naked of my outside world] Glasses propped up my nose, plonked into the nearest seat, heaved a big sigh and stared into that quiet black emptiness around me.

19:30: Bang! Again! and this time I smiled, It was the first time I was going to watch a play all by myself at Ranga Shankara! My smile grew wider!, I was so happy about this new and upcoming theater space that only Bangalore theater is truly so proud of.

All of the City’s well known, unknown, heck, the barely known folks were there. I hadn’t thought that the Karnataka [Kannada] Association for Cinema could handle Bengali, Urdu! Italian, Marathi, Hindustani, Chattisgarhi, Manipuri and English theater in the same month after all, but that festival gave me goosebumps. Thinking about it today, it still does. 

Scene 2: Wondering if this auditorium is really the worth it [wondering, only because there is no phone to meddle with!] After seeing those posters showcasing the thirty one something packed itinerary for the  festival month, I’m curious to see some of them and what this first time ever festival would pan out as!

This place was created in the memory of late Kannada actor Shankara Nag by his wife, Arundathi Nag. A small-time but mighty 300-seater theater it was, because its been seating all of Bangalore’s theater lovers for the past month or so to witness one of the most enterprising theater festival. It was cherished by a community that has helped make this auditorium come true to life and it stands glorious and this accolade falls shy for a place of such character. 

A phased out public Jaya Prakash Nagar Post Office found its landmark just next door to Shankara. The restaurants that sprang nearby drew all the local crowds into this area. The design of the theater was by well-known architects in the City, but the most important thing is that this theater and its open welcoming spaces, combined with the artistic connection has drawn the locals like bees to honey! It may not have designed parking place but sure does bring a lot of the community folks to talk and hang around its cafe and auditoriums. Spill out or spill in; there’s coffee and a something else [a movie, short plays, snapshots of famous people, gossip, books, questionnaires, idli, bonda, sandwich, etc.] with it, just the right kind of space for an urbanite to belong to in his/her city! 

Urban design needs to serve its community, its primary job is to bring community together, and what better an example than Ranga Sankara.

Scene 3:  A well spent evening out is the only way to describe an evening at Ranga Sankara.  Backed up by those true aficionados; Ranga Sankara was being true to the essence and true to the spirit of purpose it was created. So what if a cell phone network company sponsors a theater show, phones are still switched off inside the auditorium. 

Scene 4: Extremely intimate with the proscenium, anterior, characters, lights, scenes, I sat cross-legged just few feet away from the main stage, allowing myself to be intoxicated, stupefied, torn apart and drained by true art…..now this my friends, is what is life! 

Act 2: Timber stage, centripetal focus.

Scene 1: Doors shut, no latecomers please! Look at those steep stairs leading up to seats! they look dangerous…..and that’s why you stay out, latecomer! Hush!

Scene 2: Raking of seating held up by the props of the plays below, literally.

No embellishment to the quality of performance and performers.

Simple and straight-out for entertainment, the right way.

Scene 3: Goose bumps, well set air-conditioning head-on’s, expectancy levels of a clean space rises. Visual links with perceptive imagery and reality gets sharper.

Act 3: act 3

Act 4: This theater, in the very age of flat screen home theater system, allures a drone of bees to its hex. A chance to spend quality time and money in passing is very likely to occur. The ease with which anybody can handle such an experience is proof of the comfort level there. Cheers to more of Ranga Sankara.