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.

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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!  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 even today. 

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 plays in thirty days, it was a packed itinerary for the  festival month, I was curious to see some of them was just happy that we had a real theater for drama, so close to home!

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. It stands tall and proud  for its community, 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:  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 ‘being alive’ felt like. 

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. 

Act 3: act 3

Act 4: This theater, in the very age of flat screen TV and 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. 

 

Day 4/7 of nostalgia week. Sitting amongst stacks of files in my office, I crave for chaat, and I remember April 2008. I went on this solo trip to Ahmedabad, and gorged on all that mouthwatering Chaat while walking to Le Corbusier’s Millowners Association building. I was spending precious solo time in rickshaws that took me from Correa’s Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya to the ancient Step Wells.The Step Wells are a thing of beauty and peace, it’s a must visit for Ahmedabad. The hot and bustling NID campus had some peacocks strolling around, maybe to add an element of royalty?! The Gufha was definitely overrated, It should have a function to it rather than just an artsy cave.
I did go back to Ahmedabad solo again in the later half of 2011, @nishu_sheth_ was throwing such a big wedding then! 😁 Me, I was almost hooked on to the phone and synching up with HP. Good times. The city was cooler, better microclimates, thanks to the gorgeous rehabilitation of the Sabarmati river, the locals seemed to enjoy the evenings strolls too. .
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#RMstories #ahmedabad #nostalgia #architecture #stepwells #stepwellsofindia #summersinindia #architectureofIndia #designgeek #architecturegeek (at Ahmedabad, India)

Day 2/7 of nostalgia week. This one is from June 2012, when the domestically challenged, newly-wed wife like me enjoyed a quiet afternoon building some models and developing stop motion videos of my jewellery boxes.
Combined joy of modular boxes and architectural imagination from @thecontainerstore that has been with our organized life for the past six years. .
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#RMstories #nostagiaweek #sanjosedays #containerstore #modulorboxes #architecturalmodels #colorandlife #acrylicboxes (at San Jose, California)

Day 5/7 of nostalgia week. This was my life for half a decade since 2000! Five solid years of hand drawn beauties on that drafting table, rest assured, I did save my back! And five more years of literally non-stop work. On man, highly productive decade. This picture might have been 2004-early 2005. Thankfully, there is only one picture of that desk with a slight hint of my model-making table to the left. And that’s that, the rest is a memory! The messy rooms, the fun, the long nights, the craziness and everything that was part of becoming an architect! Cheers! .
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#RMstories #architecturegeek #architect #modelmaker #draftingtable #handdrawing #handdrafting #architectureschool #adecadeofarchitecture (at J. P. Nagar)

Day 6/7 of nostalgia week! It was a Saturday evening in 2010, just before I was ready to take on the world by myself, when I rightfully started to fear my decision to go our on a solo venture. I feared that home and life as I knew it would change unrecognizably when I returned. And I desperately needed something to remind me of my preciousness, so I pulled out a camera to take lots of pictures.
Look at it! This picture is dated at the top right and developed, only to be scanned later and preserved in my phone archive now! Featured is our good old ‘kine,’ the coolest moped in town that we’ve ever owned, carefully tucked away into our building setback with tact and precision so as to allow our dogs to slip by the edges.
I’m oozing with warm memories looking at this picture…….and that’s what this whole week is about! A beautiful reminder of the good old days, on the two wheeler, buzzing around every nook and corner of the city, and amongst greenery at home and all over the city of Bangalore! Happy Friday folks!
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#RMstories #bangaloredays #adulthood #twentiesinindia #Indianlife #kinetichonda #twowheelers #mopeds #gardencity #greencity (at J. P. Nagar)

Day 3/7 of nostalgia week. Back to our first living room setup for #HPRMhome, way back to July 2012. I still love this, and I have (some) pieces with us today. Also, thank you @purplehazerads who gave me good advice about American home design. Thanks for telling me that @ikeausa is perhaps the best place to start your first home, given that there’s no access to good quality craftsmanship that I was used to in India.
Kindly note: the painting sat on top of the futon, till the time we used push pins to hang them up. 😐
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#RMstories #radindiscity #designandcolor #rentals #apartmentlife #apartmentdesign #colortexture #colorandlife #ikeastarterhome #renterlifestyle (at San Jose, California)

Day 1/7 of Nostalgia week begins today. With no particular order, I’m hashing out many pictures from the past, only to remind me that life is filled with these fond memories, and I’m taking this week to cherish them all!
Featured is one frame from 2006. This view was part of my everyday life in my early career as an architect. It is important to celebrate the everyday, especially at work. This one is a good reminder of that!
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#RMstories #contemporaryarchitecture #bangaloredays #nostagiaweek #radindiscity #colortexture (at 14, Langford Road Banglore)

‘tis the season! 🍰 Of course I’m sharing. 😉
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#HPRMhome #worktheoven #warmhome #vanillacake #cakesofinstagram #homebaked #holidayseason2017 #homesweethome #coffeeandcaketime #caketime #plentyforall #hapoyholidays #beagoodneighbor #yummyvanillacake #spongecake (at Fremont, California)

Welcoming this weekend with a garden update. This time it’s repotting and saving succulents in it’s gold colored planter for a friend. I made good notes in the Quarry Lakes master talk about ‘Gardening with Succulents’ early August this year. Before that, succulents didn’t appeal to me at all! To see these two budding and blooming after some months makes me happy. 😄
Also, my maiden bonsai is showing signs of life. Yay! New additions to the garden are some spicy Indian chillies, Spinach and carrots saplings for the next few months to come! Not sure what to do with those Mexican limes, but I might wait for a season turn to see what happens. And we had some of our green peppers for lunch this afternoon! So fresh! Yum!
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#HPRMgarden #HPRM #HPRMhome #gardeningbayarea #bayareagardens #patiogarden #containergarden #kitchengarden #vegetabkegarden #succulents #goldenplanter #beginnerbonsai #jasminebonsai #ficusbonsai #gardeningwithsucculents #masterclassgardening #homesweethome #happygardens (at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area)

It’s not a break, it’s a vacation…..for a mom to have few peaceful minutes to herself for chai and store bought samosas. It’s is the season for crazy flu and fevers…..so I got myself a flu shot to nurse my baby and hubby back to normal! Oh man! Let’s hope your having a better Friday than me! I’m hoping that the weekend turns into a milestone that’s healthier and a better next week.
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#RMstories #HPRMhome #HPRM #chai&samosas #indiansnack #breaktime #metime #adraktea #masalachai #potatosamosas #souvenierCollesium #italyfinds #breakfasttablescenes #homesweethome #thisweekisdone #onedayatatime #momentsToReflect

Day 6/7 of Italy finds!
After avoiding local vendors we walked to the other end of San Lorenzo market to feed ourselves in the well stocked Za Za restaurant. Just outside of this place we for a small store called “La Botega di Fiorenza.” Go right in and surround yourself in a sea of delights. It is home to these exquisitely crafted ceramic boxes, now part of my growing box collection. The detail photo simply does not do justice to the real deal of running your hand across the lid! We went back there twice, brilliant find! Totally recommended.
Happy Saturday people!
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#RMstories #HPRM #HPRMvacation #ceramicboxes #boxcollector #boxcollection #roundboxes #blueceramic #blueboxes #patternlover #patternlids #whiteandblueboxes #italyfinds #italianhandmade #wheninitaly #florence #florenceartisanceramics #LaBotegaDiFiorenza (at Trattoria Zà Zà Firenze)

Day 2/7 of Italy finds.
Those roadside chapparpatti store souveniers that bring absolute joy. Art on things is always a good thing!
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#HPRMvacation #HPRM #italy #italianfinds #souveniers #makeupmirrors #pocketmirrors #roma #artandsouveniers #streetshops #travelshops (at Trevi)

1/7 week of Italian finds.
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This is a ceramic RAKU clock. Scroll right for the address and location.
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The description says “Ceramic Raku is an interesting and unique exhibit to the ancient RAKU technique. Each item is taken out of the oven while red-hot and quickly places in a metallic pot filled with combustible material (saw dust, hay, dry leaves…( Once the pot has been covered, flames deprive items of oxygen allowing oxides to turn into metals. This is what makes our products shimmer with marvelous metallic effects.”
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Well, CARPE DIEM! my dear friends!
This clock is at our entrance door, just as we get out for our day!
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#RMstories #HPRMhome #HPRM #HPRMvacation #Italianhandmade #italianfinds #rakuclocks #instablogger #productreview #ceramicsfromItaly #handmade #exclusivedesign #designiseverything #radindiscity #ceramicraku #ancienttraditions #italianculture #travelfinds #bringbackhome #clocks #raku.it

The weekend that was oh so peaceful! ☮️ Continuing what Amma started with our kitchen garden! Oh so much joy! Remembering my Bangalore days, when I would go help my neighbors tend to their gardens! Cheers to small, bountiful, container gardens! 🌶️🍋
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#HPRMhome #Bountifulgarden #survivingkitchengarden #kitchengarden #patiogarden #peppers #chillis #mexicanlimes #bayareagardeners #plantlife🌱 (at Fremont, California)

wondersurrender:

“…Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) – they are experiences.

For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else -); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, – and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that.

You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return.

For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Image by Charlie Bowater

True!