Monday, February 19, 2018

Things really aren’t great.
On the other hand I’ve nothing to complain, really.
But really, things aren’t great.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Walk like an Egyptian.

I have an absurd theory: That we’re going back to the ways of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.
All right, stay with me for a bit. It all started when I was having a rather cheerful day when suddenly I opened Instagram and saw my feed with the first four out of five posts being cat photos. Including one by my BFF (who till now has claimed she really wasn’t a cat person because cats were cunning and dogs were the real loveable creatures)
My love (read disdain) for cats is well known among my friends. I’m not what they call- a pet person. Although I’m not against pets but I wouldn’t like to have any around me. Especially cats. Yes, they’re photogenic but I don’t know why human being like them so much. So that day it suddenly dawned on me that humankind (really and virtually) collectively loves cats to the point of almost worshipping them. Cats are all over the Internet. Guess which culture worshipped cats? Egyptians.

Exlibris the Egyptian scribe- Asterix and Cleopatra by Goscinni and Uderzo

Second hypothesis: emojis. Yes. Egyptians were the true inventors of emojis in the form of hieroglyphs. Sure their system might be quite departed from emojis as Hieroglyphics are picture symbols used to represent ideas and sounds (just like the Latin alphabet) from the expressive non verbal but feeling based emoji system (which is a bit too too complex for anyone to fully comprehend as of now.) But it proves than we’re moving towards the more pictographic way of thinking. I for one register and process graphically conveyed information easier than the written word. And I’m sure it’s the same for more and more people around the world. Just to give an example: I associate people’s content online with their display pictures. So while scrolling through my social media feeds, I don’t read their names but see their DPs to understand who’s content it is. So whenever someone changes their DP, I have to rewire my brain accordingly.
Thirdly: Popular leaders with personality quirks and an incessant need to build infrastructure especially for dead people.

So who wants to be Pharaoh?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A rather long reflective post about some partially irrelevant stuff full of parenthesis.

I call my blog experiments in life, love architecture and photography. I have all but given up photography and experimenting with equipment and images. As far as architecture goes, that's something I do experiment in, but don't write about (at least not here) and I've been somewhat unlucky in the love (of all kinds department) so hardly any scope for experimenting there. 
So I've been writing about life in general. No experiments.
Which is okay. I'll keep doing something or the other and that will surely get documented in many of my other blogs (I am a prolific writer. Well, not quite. Just that I wear my writing and content thin over many blogs. Yes it gets diluted and it does eat into my already packed schedule but I must get out of this parenthesis otherwise I'll get stuck in it forever)

But today, I want to write about something significant that happened towards the end of the last year in my professional life. I started teaching in an architecture school as a visiting faculty in 2011. All because De sir cajoled (nay coaxed) me into it. I always wanted to teach but I felt it was too soon and I had nothing to share with the students. But his argument was that no body is really ready for it. One has to start somewhere and evolve. Right. I started off with first year Architectural design and Quickly moved to Second year Architectural design. Architectural education being what it is, and design studio sessions being  what they are, my job was never giving lectures, but giving design gyaan and being a guide to the students. Well, not entirely. These do include an occasional lecture or two, but no standard stuff. It could even be a strong opinion monolog, or a presentation (with lots of graphics and one liners) one has to give to inspire students to design better.
So after almost five years of guiding second year students with their design projects, I finally thought of taking a semester off. Which doesn't mean much because I visit college for four hours only twice a week. and that too only a grand total of about 7-8 months in a year. The remaining work time, I have a busy work schedule as an architect.
Coming back to taking a semester off... Well that didn't happen. What happened instead was this: I was ambushed by the senior faculty and found myself retracting my request for a semester off and agreeing to guide students for their fifth year final design thesis. In my mind I was swearing and you must know that I hardly swear. When I swear I really mean it. So here I was, swearing in my mind, armpits sweating profusely, brain spiralling and my imagination working overtime with numerous scenarios showing me failing each and every one of my students whom I might possibly guide. What... Oh what made such senior, qualified and experienced faculty of one of the better college in town think that I- the unconventional, under-qualified and frankly a bit too casual for school rookie was fit enough to be a thesis guide for the final year students (Incidentally all of whom I had taught in second year.)
I could only think of one thing. Lack of qualified faculty. It's a real thing and they admitted to it too, but also felt that I would be able to guide my students not too shabbily.

Now, here's the irony: My own fifth year thesis was a disaster. I took things too casually. Sure, I had lost my father recently but that honestly isn't an excuse. The fact of the matter is, I am not a hard working person. From the time I remember all my teachers had only one thing to say about me: Can do better if I apply myself. (Well, what am I, fevicol?). My college academic co-ordinator (after repeated warnings and attempted inspirational one on one talks) had given up on his ambitions for me by the time I was in fourth year. And for whatever reason, I don't write exams well despite knowing stuff. AND I HATE STUDYING. It's only after so many years that I realised that I've effectively and systematically obliterated any chance of ever qualifying for a masters course in a good university. And I would expect that the students deserve some guidance by someone who has had a bit more formal education than me. Also, the second reason I was surprised that they asked me to guide students with their thesis is that the academic co-ordinator who had give up on me in college, is the Director of the college I teach at now and is very much involved with the design thesis decisions in the college.
I was already shitting bricks at the prospect of guiding Thesis students, but De sir had suggested the same to me a few months. If my mentor and other sensible senior faculty members had confidence in me, I had (a la sound of music) confidence in sunshine, I had confidence in rain, I had confidence that spring will come again, besides which you see I have confidence in me.
And I had De sir.
And then I didn't.
Gingerly, I have been learning to tread the rather tepid waters that is the all consuming fifth year design thesis. All this while, I thought the second year design discussion with individual students used to overheat my brain. That, in hindsight seems like a walk in the park. What helps is I love to talk design philosophy and construction technology. Quite passionately too. What I lack in experience I'm trying to make up with more reading and exposure. I sometimes do feel I have a bit more experience about some stuff through my travels and all the experiments and interaction with so many professionals from different fields. I'm enjoying the ride, stumbling occasionally and getting guidance from others.
Oh and since I'm a visiting faculty, I don't get paid more for teaching fifth year students. That's a bummer.
So what started off in my mind as a short blog post about me being pseudo-promoted to guiding fifth year students has turned into a rather long pseudo-semi-rant about... well... I don't know what exactly. And since it has been typed in a flow, I'm sure there are many errors. So I'll publish it for now and keep editing as and when I notice them. (I am my worst proof reader, you see.)
I think I overuse/misuse parenthesis. (Also, I love saying parenthesis)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Eulogy for a mentor.

It’s impossible to sum up how we feel about De Sir in a few short sentences. I'm sure every one has had their own stories with him as he has been such a strong presence in our lives personally and professionally. My first real interaction with him was during our second year Study tour to Auroville back in 2003. We chatted over several hours of rummy on the train (the card game in case anyone was wondering). And what a trip is has been since. Working with him, travelling with him, spending time in his company and learning so much from him. The generosity with which he shared knowledge from the vast repository of his experiences, reading and work has enriched our lives tremendously. Nandini Ma'm and Aparajita have been a very important part of those experiences and our lives too. We shall always be here with you and look up to your future experiences and share our lives with you.
  
Obi as his friends affectionately called him, was the Obi-wan Kenobi to my Luke sky walker. My mentor, friend and guide. Not just to me alone, to so many of us here. 
I shall continue to be curious and keep learning. To continue encouraging students and sharing my own experiences with them. To enjoy life to the fullest and taking every challenge head on just like you did.
Ever energetic, enthusiastic and cheerful, one of the last things he said to me was: "I have never been good at taking it easy. Haven't learned to do that. Don't want to either"

Thank you sir, for always seeing the best in us and inspiring us to be better!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Loss - II

I thought it was going to be the end of the year. But it was more than just that. The end of an era. My mentor Abhijit De passed away early morning on the last day of the year. He was more than just my mentor. He was my teacher, my friend and academic guide. His death was totally unexpected and untimely. Now is the time I needed his guidance more than ever. And I'm not the only one who does. We're all going to miss him terribly. It's not too easy to write about him as it probably hasn't sunk in yet. Seeing him for the last time that day felt like a huge void had just appeared out of nowhere in my life... and a tremendous weight on my shoulders that he had only just started preparing me for.

This all feels just a bit too familiar...


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Busy as a B...

If someone were to tell a twelve year old me that I would be this busy as at this age, she have laughed at them. It wouldn't be much different if you asked the eighteen year old me... Or even the twenty three year old me. Heck, the 27 year old me would have laughed the hardest.
I've always wanted to be my own boss so that I could do what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. Because I like doing many different things.
But now that I am my own boss and I get to do everything that I want to, the twelve, eighteen, twenty three and twenty seven year old me couldn't have been more wrong.
I am not a hard working person. I take my time with things and don't always take the extra effort. One may even call me lazy and I couldn't care less. But I do take what I really like doing quite seriously... Without taking myself too seriously. And as I mentioned earlier, I like doing many things. Sometimes all at once. And I love every minute of it.

But this month has been like nothing I've experience before. And it's just not ending! Between work, teaching, site visits in the city and outside, workshops and extra sessions and many such activities, I've been having really long days doing too many things! One might even say I'm working hard, but I still believe I'm not. I've been on the edge most of the time and loving every minute of this too, but I wish I had some of the blank spaces to recharge my mind to avoid burning out or even lashing out on unsuspecting friends and family. I've had to pass up a few interesting opportunities and may need to give up a few more temporarily. It's not going to be easy.
This post is a long overdue acknowledgement of this fact.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Humour me

I thought I should read some new funny fiction books so I went on goodreads and checked their readers choice 'best of humour 2017' list. I was disappointed as all of the books featured on the list were memoirs/essay collections written by TV personalities and comedians! Not a single humour fiction book!
Then I checked lists from the previous years. Found it the same. I found a few fiction humour books in the 2014 list though.

So does that mean no one writes humour fiction anymore? No, I'm sure people still write many funny fiction books. But what sells is whatever TV comics write. Doesn't mean what they write isn't funny. it's highly engaging and observational. But it fits a pattern which I've only inferred from my limited exposure to this genre, so I might be wrong. But they are relatable because we see them and we know them. We can put a face, a voice and a personality to the writing and one doesn't have to use too much imagination. Easy and fun. Perfect reading for your daily commute.
I do like reading humour fiction. And apart from the classics, every once in a while I come across gems like 'Look who's back' and 'The Martian' (which is more hard science fiction than humour.) Which makes me think... Why don't they have a separate sub-genre for Fiction humour just like they have science fiction, fantasy fiction, historical fiction, young adult fiction, young adult fantasy and science fiction and romance. Shouldn't those most funny non fiction book be under 'Memoirs'? They may have to add a new genre called 'Memoirs humour'. A mess of genres but what fantastic and precise categorisation at the same time!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cause and effect

It's strange what can affect you. At times the most gruesome/sad human interest story can't make you feel much, but a story about Polar Bears starving because of climate change can wrench your heart. Like someone has given you unimaginable pain.
All that anger, frustration and heartache comes out an one single instant and it's quite uncontrollable. And for that moment, I'm quite inconsolable. I blame myself for this. For the dying polar bear and for not feeling much.
Or not being able to express my feelings for people.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Crush and chop

All these years I've been chopping garlic cloves tediously. And even though I knew how it was done, only recently have I started crushing garlic cloves with the flat surface of the knife before chopping them. 
Wonder what took me so long?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Flying solo

I dream a lot. During when I'm awake and also when I'm asleep. When I'm awake, dreaming is it's equivalent to rambling, but I still control what I dream about. Whereas I have absolutely no control over what I dream of when I'm asleep. I have written about my dreams before. But last night out of the blue I dreamt of taking flying lessons for my private pilot's license. And I didn't see me actually flying a plane, just the awareness that I was taking flying lessons!
Strange right? Where did that come from? 
Well recently, my mom told me that she hopes some day I, her daughter - get to take flying lessons and get to fly a plane.
And that was exactly what I was planning to do in my dream. Now, I really want to get a private pilot's license. Yes, it must be expensive and we're not even talking about owning a small plane, but some day in the not so distant future... I must.