Keep calm and Exit The ‘burbs – Part 2: The protagonist!

Hi, I’m Brenda, of Luis Barton Elementary, a school run by the Vasbund School District. We are preparing the work for next years pogos. India will probably tell you about me later on, but for now I wanted to share something I saw earlier this week. When Dita shared about her rant a couple of days ago, like she usually does quite often, she was on her walking tour. She runs these walking tours every Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and lots of new and out-of-town pogos flock to her to get friendly with the neighborhood and school. I was busy watching Rufus play in the courtyard while she went on the other day.

She usually introduces two of my friends in her tour. They are the highlights of her tour. Am sure you were not that attentive, so let me remind you. The first one was George, the grand old man, she called him the selfish single family home. I did say she was passionate, din’t I? She mentioned, in good climate, about my friends Maria, Julie and Bosco, remember the condos, apartment and townhouse, yes?! Good, now your all caught up!

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I’m here to introduce to you the hero of this story. Her name is India, and she is the voluptuous mixed-use, smiling right now at the corner of this block. She’s taken on the whole new narrative of life into her womb. She stands in the corner, peeking out to see the activities of the street. She works her way into many shopping streets, listening on with glee the hustle and bustle of comings and goings. She is the reason why most pogos come here. Its because of her, my baby pogos can go fill up their ruffles with supplies, hang out with their friends over coffee, stop to admire her beauty while she watching the world go by!

She caters to Bob, the street musician & Lake, the fitness yogi every morning. Like I mentioned earlier, she hosts Dita on her walking tours. She smiles and waves to new pogos who take selfies of her pink flowery dress that go all the way up to become her crown. She lets Ravi, the stout, tickle her once everyday as he goes about his day. She knows he has a crush on her ever since she moved to this new place a decade ago. She is flexible, a multi-tasker and very generous. She adores all kinds of pogos, particularly when they walk past her all day long, and stop for pogolong and pogoshort.

Let me tell you a secret I know about India. She had a big crush on 180Dash, that big handsome hunk who flirts with Bob, Dita, Karun, Heather and Andy everyday on our block. I see her turn the pinkest right before he swings around. I don’t blame her, he’s quite the looker. I also feel that he likes her too, he’s usually very quiet, but as he stops in front of India, he toots his horn everyday, making her blush some more.

India is the kind hearted gardener whose arms fill up with pretty flowers for pogos to coo and dogos to poo. While she was nurtured in this form, she hosted pogos in her upper floors, keeping them busy during the day and making sure it is quiet at night. She spoke to Julie and Marie over tea out in the courtyard. Bosco was far out with Bob and Lake in the park, watching a tai chi class. India is trying to understand how to keep George entertained in his retirement, he seems awfully bored all by himself, she thought! She definitely wants to tell him to hit the gym soon! He also needed a trim at the barber’s, she could send her cousin Shaun, a couple of blocks away.

While she kept herself busy thinking these things, out in the corner she could see a new and  handsome stack of the leanest and meanest teenagers. She heard them a mile away and could see them play the monkey. They were pointing toward George’s, some of them stopped their pogos besides the Eleva and Gert, Maria and Julie’s kids. She wanted them to keep the upcoming birthday a secret, but they being teenagers, it may be very hard! They did look very clean, all nice and polished, out there to make new waves in the world. She had a soft spot for them, but did not want them to ruin George’s surprise.  This was her typical Wednesday afternoon, it was time for her to return to the parlor and settle down with her book before she prepared for an afternoon nap.

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Keep calm and exit the ‘burbs!

If homes need to create communities, it needs to have a connection to the outside world. Such connections can happen through various architectural elements to give birth to what urban America knows as “eyes on the street.”

When I say ‘connection,’ I specifically mean a space for human interaction; between neighbors, community members, with nature, with children and other people. It needs to be part of some activity, like greeting your neighbor as he walks his dog, watching your child play while you water the plants, sitting and reading a book, lounging with a newspaper over morning coffee/tea, catching up with friends, drying papadams, etc. The activity is intrinsic to the culture, the people and the place. That’s when a connection is made and a community is born.

Agreed that it is hard to create such spaces in colder countries. Seasonal changes don’t allow for annual use of such spaces. I’m told not to complain, given the good nature of California weather when compared to other parts of this big continent. But I still think these indoor-outdoor spaces are vital, and it is exists in anyplace where humans need interaction.

I live in an apartment complex, on the top floor of a two story block of condos, with large windows that bring the eastern and western light into our home. Leading up to my apartment is a straight flight of stairs with fifteen steps and no mid-landing. My son and I count the steps everyday while going up and down, and it’s one our most favorite everyday routines. Besides counting the steps, we both pause either at the top landing or the bottom of the staircase for a bit, when we wait for each other to come join the day. We also pause sometimes just so we can watch the trees, aeroplanes and greet our neighbors (and dogs) passing us. Under this stair lies my son’s tricycle and basketball hoop for play. On occasion, I hose down this space to clear the cobwebs and leaves build up owing to the seasonal change. The roof above covers all steps except the last four, leaving this staircase protected from most rains, winds and direct sunlight. Along one length of this staircase is a double story wall and the other is a simple functional metal railing. About twelve to fifteen feet away from that wall is another long wall, making this space a passage leading to the four doors of four families from all over the world. Now this is one such pause space, a common area where a community can belong.

Now let’s look at the large single family homes in suburban America. Every activity is inward looking confining families indoor for most part of the year, lets say this time it is owing to weather. Street life and human connection is separated by at least a 25 -30 foot frontyard that contributes to nothing for community life. The only connection any human has outside of their home is the straight walk to get to their mailbox or their car and that large swath of a backyard. While it looks all fine and dandy in the talkies, living in them does not seem like fun!
I must bring attention to the bulk of backyards that are part of these homes. I’m repeatedly shocked by the large mass of these spaces, whose primary role is to entertain perhaps two dozen humans at most for a handful times of the year, mostly birthdays and thanksgiving. For such a small role, these large spaces can easily be swapped to any of the rooms indoors or a community space. Perhaps there are a handful of backyards that still are good gardens, where one can produce nice vegetables and fruit for sustainance.
I’ve never seen a garage of family home that was used only as a car parking spot. I’ve noticed (with shock,) how wrongfully it turns from hobby to garbage space, only so that the indoor spaces could remain clutter free.

The single family home is a selfish species, one that neglect community and does not want to belong to any place outside of it’s own large bubble. The condos and apartments are loving members of a community, with empathy, care for the environment, respect for life, access to livelihood and economic centres of creation!

The mega-home, sold to the world like it’s everyone’s dream, one that takes a lifetime to populate and another to maintain, needs to be redefined.

The current movement of built space in cities such as San Jose, Fremont and Milpitas in the Bay Area is tending towards a denser footprint of homes, it has begun to emulate denser urban environments that one can see in major cities such as New York and Sam Francisco. Walkability, transit connections and community life has begun to gain more importance than that of car-ownership and the big fat American suburban dream of two cars, big refrigerators etc. is thankfully dying.

#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 “Kolu,” 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

#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.

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

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.