Have you ever felt like you’re working hard on every aspect of your life only to come back where you started?

Certain decisions in our life are always spoken, thought about, and debated in and on with our own minds or that of a listening ear, but never acted upon. Each day the pattern repeats, you wake up breaking up with your bed, drag yourself out of the house, or in today’s context in front of the webcam, or just lay there thinking – why do I feel so heavy? Am I tired already? Did I not get enough sleep? I have a lot to do, why am I being so lazy? I don’t want to work anymore, I want to try something that I am passionate about. I don’t want to keep sleeping or do that repetitive job anymore. And then just like that, you start dreaming about how it would feel to work on something that ignites the fire in you, you know it will be lite af. You dream about the day you’ll type that resignation letter or start that Instagram page you have curated multiple times in your head and heart, and its 2pm, a notification shines on your screen and your dreams are scrolled over for that reel which just popped, and you keep doing this exact same thing day by day, month by month. Nothing changes. You on around circles and the unrealized but very real dreams remain within those constraints.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Don’t we already know what we want? Well, here’s the deal, our brain is wired to our comfort zone, it tries to protect our decisions every day. It’s instinctual to our patterns and aims that relaxing all our senses, by analyzing and reflecting our past choices and experiences. “I’ll do that after watching just one episode”, we give excuses and convince ourselves that the fatigue and extra stress after or before anything productive or unproductive is just too much work or you being lazy. What we fail to recognize that our neglected aspirations act up unrealized burdens and make us feel tired day by day.

Maybe if we try to observe and look into our decisions we will recognize that pattern, that pattern of immediately stopping when you feel unconformable to try something new, the feeling of safety washing over you, ” at least I know how to go around my rude boss, at least I have my movies and series to keep me company, at least I know what it feels to feel unhappy”

There is a lot going on beneath the surface other than just being lazy or unable to quit things that make us unhappy. What if for a moment we close our eyes and remember the times when we took decisions, decisions that made us move and try something different? Having that unmatched flavor of ice cream and immediately regretting but feeling not a bit of unhappiness for the decision you made?

Can we try to remember that feeling that comes after the seconds of uncomfort? Would it be worth it to experience those few minutes for a whole lot of adventure? To book that holiday, to open that art page, to apply for that job, to quit that job, or to go eat that pineapple on pizza.

Can we apply this same energy and go off at a tangent to stop going in circles?

I love you, I hate you, I love myself, I hate myself. I hate the world, I hate men. I met so many beautiful people along the way that in spite of a few bad people I still find this world to be an amazing place.

Words are beautiful and unimaginably powerful weapons. They have the power of creation and destruction. They have incredible healing powers and are equally hurtful too. Words are magic. In the right hands, they can change the world for the better. 

I can sit here today and rake to social media and “open up” about what problems life has actually sent across my way. I can give you detailed accounts of all of it. An endless list of 100 tiny situations and cry to the world but the fact will be that I would have done that just to gain attention. Have my 15mins of fame while pretending that I just want to show the world that I went through this and you are not alone. This little stunt is just telling everyone that let’s be sad together. This little stunt is not helping the world get better. The world didn’t change because people in tough situations decided to sit and cry for days and told everyone else let’s cry together. The world changed because those few humans, those chosen few humans decided I am gonna stand and fight against all odds. I am going to come out of this tough situation guns blazing and tell the world how I won. They gave the world answers. They gave the world words that would heal. The power of words. 

Side Note: You, yes YOU reading all this. You are an amazing, beautiful, kind and compassionate human being. You will always find strength within yourself. YES, YOU WILL. Breathe and take a break and let your mind show you where that strength is waiting inside that beautiful soul of yours. Let your mind guide you into your own safe space and you will see the magic unfold. You will feel that energy in your bones. You can already feel it. That tiny goosebumps that you are getting is a sign of that energy. There is more of it inside you. Let it guide you, my sweet beautiful human. Sending you all the love I have and I have plenty for you. I can’t heal the world but my role in your life is that of a healer and I will show you kindness and compassion when you need it.

Now let’s talk about naming every situation shall we.

Naming everything is so simple and yet a huge deal. I have this, I have that etc etc. You can never walk away from problems. There is no version of your story that will be without certain problems but in this version of your story, you will either call yourself a victim and keep talking about how things used to be and how you are always a victim now and how everything is a problem OR, BIG FAT F*CKING OR You can be a warrior. Not a survivor but a F*CKING WARRIOR and that is exactly who you are, you have just forgotten it. Warriors don’t look at what life used to be and whine, they look at what life has been till date, all the ups and downs and learn every possible lesson they can think of to fight every possible situation that comes along the way believing the entire time that THEY ARE ABOUT TO TAKE THIS VICTORY.

This is the part where you use words for yourself. When you open that journal of yours don’t just write about every little problem or don’t just write random positive words that you found online. You take that pen and start defining yourself as if you have the hand of God on your shoulder. You define yourself in the most unique way that you have been designed to be.

Words in the right hands will change the world for the better and that little world is inside your little head and you have the most perfect hands to use those powerful words.

You will always have the last word. It will always be your word against everyone else.

The Theory of Architecture comprises interpretation and critical commentaries on the architecture of past, present, and future.  Most theories exert a wide and beneficial influence on the era. Such thoughts are criticized and transformed with their implementation and the way they are spread to the masses. Feng Shui is one such theory of the past that guides in design thinking and construction for a better living. 

Feng Shui (风水) “wind-water” is the art of ancient China, which manifests architecture in terms of invisible forces that binds the universe together into energy, called “Qi”. It is an intangible form of energy, solely responsible for providing the ‘breath of life’ to everything. It is believed that it flows under our feet, floats above, resides inside us, and changes the environment through transforming and constant movement. Based on this concept of Qi, Feng Shui believes that everything is formed by the circulation of Yin Qi and Yang Qi. This contrast relation in the nucleus between the positive and negative leads to neutrality and balance in the micro or macro-environment. Feng shui uses Qi to form a unified connection between humans, the built environment, and nature. At its core, the philosophy of Feng Shui embodies holism, circulation, balance, and transformation, interpreted by the concept of Qi and the theory of Yin Yang and the Five Elements. Qi itself an unexplained phenomenon Feng Shui becomes a mystical pseudoscience at times bordering on superstition.

Originally Feng Shui was the soul of Chinese architecture for five thousand years. The earliest record of it dates back to the Pre-Qin period in books like Shang Shu, followed by the Book of Burial by Qingwuzi in the Han Dynasty, The Book of Burial (276-324 AD), the first written literature on the Form School which states that there are five primary elements of the Form School: Chi, Wind-Water, Four Emblems, Form, and Direction. Quoting a glimpse of “The air is scattered with the wind and is blocked by water.”  It also describes the law of house and methods to interpret Feng Shui in buildings through the combination of nature and geomantic omens.

Feng Shui Architecture has a profound impact on Chinese culture and ideology. Various texts and illustrations contain the philosophy of life, an outlook of nature with space and time, and the value of knowledge and humanity. Landscape Architecture, selection of sites, and construction stand as the main factors in Chinese architecture. It strongly advocates keeping the balance and harmony between the human and the ecological worlds. 

The Forbidden City, today called the Palace Museum located in the northern city of Beijing, is constructed on the laws of Feng Shui. The Palace went through numerous changes in the layout through various dynasties, due to false Feng Shui theories and implementation.

Besides the palace, cities in China were also built based on Feng Shui. Tekes in Ili, Xinjiang was mapped in the Eight Diagrams Picture, a tool used by masters to map a location. Qiu Chuji, a famous Taoist from the Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD) discovered that the site had majestic mountains, flat plains, and water. Present-day Tekes is a historical landmark in the study of Feng Shui. Built by a famous Feng Shui master Gua Pu in the Jin Dynasty, the Wenzhou city was orientated on the south riverbank, this allowed abundant sunshine to the houses.  This city is also evident in how the adjustments in Feng shui took place, as five ponds and sixty-four water bodies were constructed to adjust the layout of the city. To add to it the region’s mountainous terrain (Chi Vein, spots located at the foot of the mountains in Feng Shui) provided protection from enemies over the centuries.

Before and after the 20th Century liberation, Chinese history clearly shows a drastic change in faith of this concept. The decline of the imperial system gave a heavy blow to the theory and implementation of Feng shui.  Only in the 20th century, due to international attention, these ancient principles got a new meaning. For instance, The Sydney Opera House designed by Jørn Utzon was discovered to have followed Feng Shui rules without a master. The structure is said to draw energy from the Wind and Water to itself and the city, that surrounds it.

In a broader context, the city of Hong Kong has a major influence on Feng Shui. The planning and building orientations are said to have brought wealth and prosperity to many businesses. During the design of HSBC Bank Headquarters (1979-1986), Norman Foster + Partners consulted a Feng Shui master.  Thus, the building instead of a ground floor incorporated a hollow atrium for the passage of Qi. The escalators in the atrium were placed at an angle to prevent evil from the upper levels. Moreover, due to false feng shui principles, like sharp and angular edges in the adjacent Bank of China Tower by I.M Pei. Two cannon-like structures were mounted on the roof of the HSBC building to deflect this cut through the energy back at the river bank.

Feng Shui now dominates the Hong Kong skyline with other structures like the Jardine House whose façade is treated with circular reflective windows, according to Feng Shui these round shapes indicate the sun and coins and are associated with heaven and wealth. Whereas, The Repulse Bay has the most striking features of Feng Shui, the dragon passage, an uninterrupted gateway for invisible dragons which in turn create positive Qi.

In 1995, Donald Trump hired Pun-Yin and her father to make changes in the development of his Int’l Hotel & Tower project. To increase his foothold in the real estate prominent changes were made in the building. The most iconic of it is the metal globe that stands before the building intended to deflect the negative energy produced by the traffic in Columbus Circle. The entrance was shifted from the Columbus circle to facing the central park.  Furthermore, the reflective tea-colored glassy exterior is said to absorb the positive energy from the sky.

“You don’t have to believe in Feng Shui for it to work. I just know it brings me the money”, this statement by Donald Trump paints a picture of how feng shui was looked upon in the western world after the building was done. Though, according to The Guardian, Trump is neither the most profitable real estate developer nor is he the largest. But the flurry of media attention from Trump’s tower not only made a name for Pun-Yin, but it also introduced a very foreign concept of Feng Shui into the mainstream.

Due to a rise in Asian financers in the past decade, the western and modern interpretation of Feng Shui is now inclined towards upliftment in real estate investments. For the design of financial projects, architects and designers have started consulting masters for design layouts and orientation of the structure. Steadily Feng Shui is also becoming an aspect of interior designing with a basic sense of placements of furniture, use of color, and adding metal and wooden elements to the house. But according to an architect Steve Robinson, based in Santa Fe practicing Indian architecture, “Feng shui is becoming so popular in the design field that Robinson said he fears it will lose its traditional roots. “It’s on the verge, I’m afraid, of it becoming somewhat of a buzzword,” he said. “We’ll have to survive that. It’s far more powerful than that.” With the rise of awareness of this ancient practice, it has also become a New Age “vibe” which sells inauthentic metaphysical products that guarantee fortune and health.   

Most of the guidelines used for the design processes is more or less addressed in the concept of Feng Shui. The label changes its origins and way of use. For instance, the Vastu Shastra in Indian architecture has its own principles and values, whether as forefront or subconscious ideas for a project, these guidelines ultimately provide the well-being of a space. The concept may induce contradiction to our wild imaginations, but it can add harmony and spirituality to these imaginations. Instead of focusing on the literal applications of Feng Shui in our designs, architects can focus on this beautiful process of thinking. Elegant slits and openings for majestic dragons to pass don’t seem such a bad idea after all.

References: 

  • Body, Mind, and Spirit: Feng Shui Applications for a Healing Environment Prototype.

Author: Shou-Jungi We, Florida State University Libraries. 

  • Traditional Feng Shui Architecture as an Inspiration for the Development of Green Buildings

Author: Su Bo, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Mechanics Jiangsu University, China. 

  • FORM FOLLOWS FENG SHUI 

Author: Choopong THONGKAMSAMUT Assoc. Prof. Vorasun BURANAKARN, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture,Chulalongkorn University.

Author: Z. Zhong & B. Ceranic, Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology, University of Derby, UK

कुछ पल बिताये जो यारों के संग

भुल ना पाए ऊँहे  हम कभी

जब जिंदगी मैं हो जाऊं मायूस यूं कभी

एक हलकी सी मुस्कान दे जाए वो मुझे आज भी

रोजाना की जिंदगी में चाहे कही भी खो जाए हम 

वो यारों के संग बिताये हुए यही पल होते है

जो फ़िर मुझे अंजान गली यो से भी ढूंढ़ लाते है

In our day to day life’s hustle and bustle we get drowned in work and responsibilities and we keep postponing our very well deserved breaks only to accommodate more work between them. After spending almost a whole year at home in 2020 due to pandemic without taking any vacation and travelling to any place I felt really thankful for all the trips and vacations that I took in 2019, a year before it all started and even just a month before the lockdown I decided to take a trip to Pondicherry and that has been my best decision last year. However, this one is about a trip I took close to the end of 2019.

In December of 2019, finally after saving some leaves and after getting bored of the daily rut of work and day to day life,me and my friend from college decided to visit Kolkata to meet and stay with our friend for an extended weekend. The plan was quite impromptu and we just notified our friend that we are coming and he has to be available on those days. That’s how our plan took shape just in a day or two and we quickly booked our flight tickets and applied for our leaves. 

Before I go any further, let me make this clear, this isn’t a blog that will actually tell you the places of attraction at Kolkata or the same touristy things that you must have come across in travel blogs earlier. This blog tells you about the little experiences that a 24 year old man had when he finally had his long awaited break and vacation with two of his dearest friends which he always used to wish for. Few days back I came across a post on one of the social media sites. It said the vacations which I have in my mid 20’s with friends are just about a lot of drinking, partying and relaxing and not about other touristy things. This vacation was somewhat similar for us.

A couple of days before we left from Kolkata, I had a friend visiting me from Belgium. Since he knew I love beers he made sure to get me two bottles of Belgian beers all the way from Belgium. I decided to carry them with me to enjoy it with my friend who also loved beers. 

We had a late night flight to Kolkata and reached Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at 2 am. We took a cab to the Salt lake area to my friend’s house. After reaching his house in the middle of the night, we ordered hot chicken momos which we relished a lot during our college days. While feasting on the momos and talking we didn’t realize how time had passed and it was almost time for sunrise. As we weren’t sleepy yet, we decided to go on the terrace and enjoy the view of sunrise in Kolkata with the special Belgian Beers and some music. The beauty of those early morning hours coupled with the company of friends, beers and music was magical, it was almost like creating our very own Dil Chahta hai moment.

Beer with a view of Sunrise

The food in Kolkata has a very different vibe to it. Traditional Bengali meals are something to die for and try. I would always recommend 6 Ballygunge Place restaurants to people who want to try authentic bengali cuisine with an ambience that will take you in the vintage era. Their prawn curry served in a green coconut shell is a must try for food lovers. Also their aloo bhaja is loved by all. कोलकाता गए और रसगुल्ले नहीं खाए तो क्या खाया? Obviously you will be asked this question by everyone if you don’t stuff your mouth with enough rosgullas. We too had many and all kinds of rosgullas, though my personal favorites are baked rosgulla which are something which you don’t get to try everywhere but here in Kolkata. 

Getting as many sweets as possible to satisfy our sweet tooth

Another memorable moment for me during this entire trip had been the nouko ride at Princep Ghat. If you want to experience Kolkata in a unique way then the boat ride or as they call it the nouko ride at Princep ghat is a must try for all. Especially late evening after the sundown, you can witness the beautifully lit Howrah as well as Vidyasagar setu bridge during this ride while floating on the river Hooghly and also on the other side of the banks you can see the city lights and some modern party or dinner cruises. If that’s not enough you can try lying down on that small boat and listen to the famous bollywood song ‘Chingari Koi Bhadke’ as you see the lantern in the boat swaying. 

If you are in  Kolkata only for a couple of days just like us, then a visit to Victoria Memorial is a must. It is a site of great historical importance and is completely made of marble with a marble statue of Queen Victoria of England placed in it. It also houses a museum filled with artefacts, coins and other articles of the pre-independence era. What I liked about it the most was that it was situated right between the hustle and bustle of the city, however once you enter its huge wrought iron gates it takes you in a different era and a different place altogether. The memorial is surrounded by many water reservoirs and streams and it’s filled with greenery. Try sitting on one of its benches and notice how the city sounds get overshadowed by the chirping of almost a thousand birds on each of the trees filling your ears.

With all these beautiful experiences and some of the best moments that I spent with my friends after a very long time, I said goodbye to this beautiful city promising to return again someday and explore more that it has to offer very soon. 

Things men don’t have to do/worry about/expected of:

They are not expected to be tall. At least 5’9”.

They don’t have to be super successful, have a 6 figure salary.

Men don’t have to have their own house or be able to rent one.

Men don’t have to own a car or at least a bike.

Men are not expected in the slightest to have grand romantic gestures in a relationship.

Men are not expected to work and be primary earners.

They don’t have to have an MBA degree.

Men don’t need to have full grown beards.

They don’t need to look absolutely fit.

Men don’t get rudely pushed by women while walking on the street and still be insulted by no fault of their own.

Men don’t need to have a stable life before the age of 30 to get married.

Men don’t need to worry about losing their hair.

Men don’t need to worry about leaving their house to go live somewhere else just to make enough money to support their family back home.

Men are not expected to know how to fix almost everything inside the house.

Men don’t have to worry about being emotionally manipulated in relationships.

They certainly don’t have to own up to everything wrong in a relationship.

Men don’t have to worry about securing the financial future of their kids.

Men don’t get ridiculed when they follow their passion instead of working in a corporate office.

They don’t have to worry about crying in public. Like let’s say in a movie theatre because the scene was too emotional

Men are not expected to be able to fight in a Brawl situation. They won’t be seen as a coward if they walk away.

Men don’t have to worry about looking butch all the time. They can easily have feminine traits and not be called names.

Men have it way too easy. There is literally nothing that men need to worry about so I don’t get what the men crib about or do they?

SATIRE – The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

SEXISM – Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex.

Change needs to happen for everyone. Not just one.

To anyone who is reading and thinking “but women have it worse..” This isn’t a competition about who has it worse. Read to understand, don’t read in anticipation to use a point in comparison and be bitter about it. I believe we are all facing some form of inequality and change needs to happen for all of us.

“Wandering into a space, covered by canopies, with escaping sunrays on your feet. The chaotic beauty and the intricate symmetry. The origin of order within disorder. The greatest architecture of all the time; the forest”.

Forests are spaces which make you reflect on your existence as well as that of humanity. It serves as a dimension between the nature and the human civilization. Many cultures have sprung out of nature and forests. The Japenese tradition of worshiping forests spirirts by building shrines is commonly known. Thoygh these praticies have slowoly declined. Princess Mononoke, a Japanese animated film explores this problee in the most creative and sensntive way. The story comprisies of two factions the rise of Iron-Age and the deline of forestery. It strives to maintinan balance manifesting the most beautiful scenes. Princess monoke shows a neautral picture of coexistiotion through disorder and order.

The first forests were formed by the sea- bacteria and since then they are growing and creating life.  Desert landscapes changed to tropical forests and ice lands became mountainous regions. The transformation of massive extreme landscapes into something completely different is the magic of chaos. The gradual changes that take place minute-by-minute undergo transformation through order.

Fractal geometry is not just a chapter of mathematics, but one that helps Everyman to see the same world differentlyThe Fractal Geometry of Nature”. Book by Benoit Mandelbrot, 1982

Wild untouched forests give an impression of chaos. The plants, rocks and animals seem to grow out of nowhere. Wildly spread across the land they enhance quality of space within that irregularity. Going deeper into this matter the nature is induce with something called as Fractal geometry, which is a tool for analyzing irregularity. Through studies the fractal nature of forests was reveled and a certain pattern came into existences. Fractal patterns over a wide range of scales in nature, and we can see a similar branching pattern in the veins of a tree’s leaves. There are a few things to notice about these fractal structure. While a tree is a large, complex object, it is formed by repetition . This is a basic principle that we will see again and in all fractals that we encounter, whether in nature, or in a computer system or in everyday things we own. The basic making of everything starts from a micro model which expands by repetition in various permutations and combinations.

This theory is used determine order within disorder is one chapter of an entire undiscovered universe. With multiple models and possibilities of patterns, fractal geometry in the hand of humans remain limited.

“Just saying that a structure is fractal doesn’t bring you any closer to understanding how it forms. There is an unique fractal-forming process, nor a uniquely fractal kind of pattern. The fractal dimension can be a useful measure for classifying self-similar structures, but does not necessarily represent a magic key to deeper understanding” (Ball, 2001, p. 117)

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र मे बीतें थे कुछ हसीं लम्हे

आजकल उन्हीं के सहारे दिन कटते है मेरे

अलमारी मे रखी उन् तस्वीरों को देख

आज फिर होठों पे है वही मुस्कराहट मेरे

A few days back while cleaning my cupboard, I stumbled upon a photo album. It was from my first vacation to a different state than my home state. It was about my trip to Delhi, Agra with Shimla and Manali with my family. When you spend almost a year at home, with nowhere to travel and desperately waiting for your next vacation, such a sudden discovery does take you on a trip down the memory lane, to the happy places of your life, the times that you cherish the most or a memory that is so close to you that you still see it sometimes in your dream. Sometimes even a long lost forgotten memory also comes back to you when you encounter such small trinkets of your past experiences. In this particular trip, I revisited two of my favorite memories through the medium of my photos. 

The first photo that I ever clicked in my life was in the vicinity of Red fort when I was just 8 years old. This was supposed to be a family photo but in my excitement of capturing the photo I managed to click a blurry photo. Another memory being that of travelling from Shimla to Manali at night in a volvo, when everybody was fast asleep while I sat wide awake intrigued by the sound of Beas river flowing alongside trying to catch a glimpse of the river in the pitch dark night.

The reason for mentioning these two specific memories was that I realized that at moment, traveling to a place is not just about visiting all the attractions and sightseeings but also about living in those small moments, soaking in the feelings and experiences of these certain moments that get you in touch with your inner self. How that famous Bollywood from Yeh Jawani hai deewani, “Jitna bhi try kar lo kuch na kuch toh chootega he, isliye yahin iss pal ka mazza lete hai” holds true is what I realized. And I decided why not start a series of blogs where I take my fellow readers on a trip down the memory lane from my personal travel experiences which may connect with their memories of those places or remind them of those memories which they may have forgotten in their daily lives.

We have forgotten the smell of wet soil after rains, the sounds of waves crashing on a rocky beach while you look at the distant twinkling lights on the horizon, the feeling in the tummy on a rocking boat while sailing on a crazy flowing river. So let’s rekindle  those lost and forgotten memories which will unknowingly put a smile on our face.

-Keerthana Dhanesh, Vaishnavi Kathe

                           In the Palaeolithic age we were hunters, gatherers and wanderers in search of food. By the end of the Neolithic period, we learnt agriculture and domestication of animals. Earlier we were nomads but later, by selective breeding and agricultural technology, large settlements began to emerge. Man learned to live in groups and in turn civilizations arose. Around 4000 BCE one of the first civilizations came into being and simultaneously different settlements emerged. Their ruins show excellent administration, planning and sanitation. Our advancement from Stone Age to building empires has been a reaction to nature. For protection, we sheltered inside caves and further built shelters of our own. In this process, we forgot that we are also a part of nature. The concepts of social prejudices, stereotypes, capitalism and exploitation of the less fortunate prevail within us. Even if humankind may travel into space and establish himself, there is no running away from these characteristics. We are so tangled in all this that it is impossible to see what the future beholds. Unless and until we don’t consider ourselves one, which is our greatest strength, the growth of cities will get stagnated.

                       Initially, modern cities developed due to the industrial revolution. England led the way as London became the capital of a world empire and cities across the country grew in locations strategic for manufacturing and India was not far behind. New materials and construction technologies arose further transforming administrative capitals into cities. In the last few decades, cities became stronger by shifts of population from rural, war-stricken countries to more urban and future-safe areas, often motivated by economic factors. Like all the developed and developing countries of the world, the pace of urbanisation in India is increasing too. 31% of India’s population was residing in urban areas in 2010 and this will cross 50% by 2050 adding 441 million to the urban population. Apart from population growth, cultural influences and history enriched the social fabric of the urban-scape. The once seven islands wouldn’t have formed Bombay, if the Portuguese princess wasn’t married to the British prince. Nor Ahmedabad would have gained richness in architectural heritage if it hadn’t been ruled by Sultan Ahmad Shah I. 

What if we get a chance to rethink our cities? Can we retrofit a missing piece and revolutionize the way humans live in cities? Is that a possibility? If yes, then how? The answer to such a complex and equally boggling question lies in simplicity. 

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity”

– Henry Longfellow

                      To get a complete idea of urbanisation in India, it is very essential to have a closer look at the current developed and the emerging cities in the country. The main character of the city is formed by the activities of people and their movements around it. These patterns are equally as important as the infrastructure. Each person observes a city in their own unique way. Everyone’s experiences are different because of one’s individual cognitive thinking. Some may see it as a single being, that’s organized around a set of points and rules; others may see it as a group of broken, divided places that’s connected through a set of transport routes. To get an idea on all these factors a survey was conducted. As in any small pilot study, the aim was to develop ideas and open conversations, rather than to prove facts in a final and determinate way. For this, few volunteers of different age groups from cities- Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Calicut, Vadodara and Kankavli were selected and asked a set of common questions. The survey helped us understand that there are different identities to these cities. In cultural context the city of Pune maintains its picture. One of the resident’s defined it as “The unique culture and lifestyle of Punekars will always influence the city whereas Mumbai was identified as a chaotic city but yet navigation friendly.  It also made us realize just how a small shift of occupational development in a city can really turn the table for better. Like for instance, the city of Bengaluru once known as a pensioner’s paradise has now changed to a city buzzing with young minds all thanks to the IT industry boom and start-ups.

                         In any developing country, there are two main types of development that take place as far as cities are concerned. One such approach is by creating a secluded township perfectly designed for the people who would like to participate. Such concepts add beauty to the space but fail to address the core issues. It completely leaves out the unprivileged, which constitutes the entirety of India. As an individual we account for our own change. But when the change is so out of reach for a person who has to work for their family, it can’t be practical and doesn’t work at all in reforming thoughts and cities. These concepts also require the common man to uproot himself to a new place without a guarantee of economic stability. In 21st century India, private investments and transformations for monetary benefits are much larger than the overall growth of the city. In such cases, the development is unevenly distributed and such scattered projects either end up improving the lifestyle of people from a set class or some eventually die out. Big private projects ignore the concept of architecture for all and only focus on the elite.  One Mumbai makes this clear, ten more will make it even clearer. Though cities are assumed as a liberating space where rigid social structures make way for secular transformations, the findings of recent studies on Indian cities indicate that they still increasingly mirror India’s rural social and cultural realities, its entrenched caste system and social customs. Even though these are serious complex issues, people have gotten used to these changes and have learned to navigate through them. The need for basic survival enables one to face any kind of adversities created under such proposals and overlook what one really deserves as an individual. It does not elevate or improve one’s quality of living. Hence the city cannot go through a sudden change that it’s not prepared for. If it does, the outcome will lead to a social, economic, political and psychological turmoil. 

                         Nature and vegetation may seem far away or is defined only as a small pot of plant in our lives. But it takes just one action of looking up to find an evening lit sky or down to discover a ground covered with jasmine which makes us lose space and time. In these actions lies the fact that we are much more connected to nature than we think. Aristotle the legendary Greek philosopher said, “Man is by nature a social animal; Society is something that precedes the individual.” The need for spending time in natural and interactive spaces in our cities was evident through the survey. Ambient café spaces, beaches or a bench gives an opportunity for people to talk, watch and think. Not just for the younger half but for the whole community and that includes people often marginalized and isolated including those with physical disabilities and mental health challenges. Man cannot live alone. Human interaction and a sense of belonging are essential for a universal growth of the society. We are meant to be besides it and not the other way round.

                     The famous drive-in American fast food company, founded in 1940 as a restaurant, is today one of the largest food outlets in the world. The reason behind its success apart from the tasty burgers is its business strategies. The characteristics are compactness and functional fullness of this model designed for the care of many. The main unnoticed characteristics are the fact that it is a gathering of a temporary society of unrelated people and it gives an identity to the place and forms a sense of gathering. For instance, introducing such a joint in the commercial sector of Delhi known as the rape capital will convert the place into a landmark of that region, attract crowd and eliminate the danger of men committing such crimes thus securing the place and bringing a sense of freedom.

                       People do like healthy food, it’s just not available easily in our cities hence the inclination to a fast food joint. At times the menu comes up with a paneer salad, people do buy it. It’s a matter of what is provided at convenience to them. For example, Japan has the lowest rate of obesity. They haven’t introduced country strict dietary rules, but have introduced local healthy outlets and vending machines with varieties of tea in every nuke and corner of their cities., be it secluded or not. Our busy lifestyles necessitate convenience. But who said that convenience has to be unhealthy? So if such a concept of growing food chain can be globally accepted regardless of the town or city, there is definitely a scope for introducing a design model like this. This might help the modern urbanscape of India to redirect their sails and move towards a path of a healthier, more sustainable and a community driven progress. In the survey held the common point that we spotted was, over a time span of 25-30 years all these cities are heading towards busier lifestyles. The common problems remain: lack of safety, poor road network, negligence in development of green spaces, increasing population leading to busier cities and an urgent sense to fit in urban lives.

                          Architecture in Indian cities gets restricted to one dimension of thinking and building spaces. The flow of diversity, inclusion of social matters, figuring out what people really need than want and the consideration of the human mind is lost in our practices. Keeping in mind the pros and cons of a developing city, various development strategies, natural adaptability of humans, value of nature, we  believe that a small change is capable of causing a butterfly effect. The aim is to create models that are for the people and by the people. To implement these ideas there is a need to reconsider urban planning beyond building and to look at the ocean of art and other disciplines. More the complexity, more the solution should be clear, fitted into minimum space and time. It can be a fluid idea or a stationary one. The models can be of various scales, focusing on various purposes depending on the need of the area.  For example in Lisbon, Portugal introduced an idea for pedestrian safety. People often ignored the red man at traffic junctions in order to cross the roads sooner and these lead to accidents. The Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of people waiting to cross a road by displaying a red figure dancing to music rather than the standard static figure. The figure was a representation of people dancing in a nearby booth. A video feed of the individual’s dancing was relayed in real-time to the pedestrian lights, with the resulting dancing red figure indicating that pedestrians should wait. Many cities in India have pockets of secluded spaces within them. These places form prey to unsafe environments for people commuting alone. For tackling these safety issues in such areas, we can introduce visual elements that are painted using luminous paints to illuminate in the dark. This will provide light even in pitch darkness thus making it a safe and visible space. This Luminous Paints can be used in a market-place or an industrial sector where there’s no movement at night. Providing such a solution can create a sense of liveliness in an otherwise dangerous atmosphere. Parks, open gymnasiums and green spaces are joyful places enjoyed by people of all age-groups. They create a breath of fresh air and provide environmental, aesthetic and recreational benefits within the dead concrete jungle. But apart from these advantages they are also spaces of high energy and motion. The rides like the swing, see-saw, merry-go-round and all the exercising equipment produce mechanical energy that can be directed and used for a cause. This energy can be converted and used to light the neighbourhood street lamps or the nearby bus-stop. This Mechanical Energy Garden will be an example of an interactive space benefiting the community itself. “Hearing is primal. You don’t have ear lids. There is no way to turn it off. You hear everything around you all day, all the time,” says Julian Treasure, founder The Sound Agency. Day to day sounds affect us at a subconscious level. They evoke memories and create psychologically reactions which we aren’t even aware of. Constant sounds that cause major stress include high frequency sounds because of traffic, railway announcements or constant unnecessary noises. But low frequency sounds like birds chirping in your office cubicle can induce a relaxing effect on the psyche. Imagine listening to rain on a hot summer day or walking with leaves on concrete roads. The idea of creating a Soundscape over urban cities will convert workplaces, railway stations and bus stops into a sense of moving with nature, in turn helping with stress and giving a peace of mind. 

‘Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.’

Albert Einstein

                        On asking about whether the lifestyle affects the city, a volunteer stated “The city hasn’t really changed despite all the huge changes it has been through. I guess like any other place, it’s the people who change and adjust according to the city imagery”. When minute imagery of the cityscape changes over the year’s people too change along with it. Just how the world and in turn cities slowly change through space and time; from telegrams to emails, telephone to mobile phones, radio broadcasting  to OTT channels, profound change happen with slow but continuous progress. Similarly, the intention is to imply gradual and subconscious change. 

                      The aim is to make the city and its citizens grow into human centric and sustainable ideas. Let the pattern spread and change naturally. There is never a final destination to such things. Just like our house is never done. There’ll always be something to maintain every now and then, same goes with the city. There is no end point to arrive even though we can set plateaus of small goals. There is no final result, only a continuous succession of phases.

Bibliography

We always strived to maintain a balance between our work life and our personal life. However, with the onset of Covid Pandemic in the year 2020 where some people lost their job some were stuck at home and continuing with their work from home. Initially working from home seemed to have its own perks. It reduced the travel cost, physical stress caused due to travel to work in metropolitan cities and even time consumed in the daily commute. This in turn increased the productivity of the employees. But with time, the most human need of traveling to beautiful places and taking a break from your regular scene erupted.

With this newly felt urge to travel emerged two new concepts of travel in the tourism industry of workcation and staycation. A couple of days back when I was discussing with my friend about workcation, he seemed really interested and confused with this concept. For us vacation was a break from our daily lives with a change in scenery and location and no worries from boss and work. Then what is exactly workcation?

Work, Work, Work, Hit Refresh!

Workcation can be all that vacation is plus more since you can even carry your work to this place and go on during the day clicking and clacking at your laptop without actually taking a leave from office. One of the greatest benefits of this is you actually get to travel without the hassle of applying for leaves or worrying about managing your leaves if you are planning a long vacation.

Soak your feet in cool sand while you wait for meeting to end

Typically, workcation works better if you choose a location which is close to your home. You can also travel to a farther location where you won’t be leaving your hotel or apartment for sightseeing. This way you get to dedicate your daytime for your work and in the evenings you can chill, go out for walks, have dinner in beautiful cafes or restaurants or even visit your relatives if they reside close to you. Also workcation does not necessarily mean locking yourself up in your room and working during the daytime, you can also choose a beautiful local cafe or a serene shack by the beach. The only prerequisites for an ideal workcation is a good view, excellent wifi for your work needs and you are all set to take your much needed break. Just make sure you have taken your boss’s permission too before planning your workcation.

Why stay at home when staycations are here

On the other hand, staycations are just a pure complete break from your work and day to day life. Just look up online and find your ideal apartment, homestay or hotel and just head out with your family and loved ones. Similar to workcations, people willing to take a staycation want to just relax and have a change of scenery with their friends or family with minimal or no sightseeing. Offbeat destinations with beautiful views are an ideal staycation destination to hang up your worries and stretch on a beach bed or an armchair with your favorite book or people.

These new types of travel and accommodations grew popular due to the safety that it assured with clean venues and lesser crowd for better social distancing amidst the pandemic. Being a Mumbaikar, some places that I would like to recommend to people who would be interested in similar kinds of vacations are Alibag, Lonavla, Mahabaleshwar, Karjat and many more. Just get in your car, look up for an ideal homestay with a beautiful view or a luxurious hotel with an infinity pool and you are set for your best workcation or staycation. Hurry up! What are you waiting for?

Whether we believe we’re done or whether we believe we want to fight, it determines what the next steps will look like. 

Whatever happened in your past isn’t a cage for you to live in. You do not exist in that moment anymore. You’re here, you exist now. You’re a survivor, a Victor. 

We derive meaning from our past. If in our past we were victims then we will move forward as victims. We tend to focus on the few negatives from the past more than the many positives from the same past. Our minds do this which is a part of Cognitive Distortion. 

The meaning that we assign to our past determines how meaningful our future purpose would be. You can navigate your way through situations life throws at you and live to tell the tale. You can’t control what happens to you but you can surely control what actions you take. 

I used to play the victim card years ago. It made me stay in a negative zone. Cranky & complaining. When I ran out of things to complain about from my past I started finding faults in other places, till a few years ago when I had a sudden urge to stop this cycle of complaining and cry and look at my past as a series of experiences designed to teach me a lesson. I move forward today because I do not see my life from a victim standpoint. I am here, I am a warrior, I am a Victor. 

Change your perception of the past and Take charge of your present day.

Our perception influences our behaviour.

Perception is just the way we see things and not necessarily the way things are. 

Our focus is what we’re looking at. Our perception is where we’re looking from. We sometimes end up making mistakes or end up heading down the wrong path while being unaware of the fact that our perception was not accurate. 

Some perceive the world to be a bad place to live in so they wake up everyday finding what they can show outrage about.

Some perceive the world to be a beautiful place so they find ways to spread more positivity. 

Some perceive the work of others to be flawed and try to bring them down whilst not being productive themselves.

Some perceive the work of others to be something worth sharing to the world and do so without hesitation. 

A considerable part of our behavior is an outcome of our perception of the world around us.

Architecture is for the people and by the people, it’s blueprints of a person’s imagination and thinking. Father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung describes architectural drawings as diagrams of human psyche. More than anywhere we spend most of our lives indoors and residing in a city naturally subjects us to the urban life and sculpt our movement around buildings, railway stations, stores and importantly around people.

To look from a psychology point of view we are actually the products of windows in our house and length of our rooms. In the same way color is also medium of forming our psychologically state, a sense of emergency, appetite or peace.  University of British Columbia conducted a study on effects of colors on the human psyche proved that the color red increased concentration and attention on the given work and blue increased creative reasoning and imagination. Simply entering a room with heightened ceiling can induce dominance or a welcoming feeling according to the use of material, color and design of the space whereas a lower celling can make one feel warm and cozy or claustrophobic on how well ventilated and lite the space is.  A major factor in this is our backgrounds and genetic makeup, which affect our perceptions to feel and look at these spaces.

Cognitive thinking in navigation plays a very important role in development of urban spaces according to Prof Kate Jeffery.  With increasing globalization and technology, we forget to take a breath and think. Moving around in autopilot mode affects our thinking capacities. But when there is an obstacle or an unidentified event happening in the middle of the road or on the train, something like “new information detected” starts processing in our brains, which in turn stimulates our sense of exploration.  This results in either extreme frustration on interrupted movement or a sense of curiosity. In the latter case people start coming up with solutions and find their own way. Despite all design, architectural and natural obstacles people are good at finding their own comforts and ways. Prime example of this is people walking through parks and grassy lawns to reach quickly instead of on the long-paved paths. To regulate this thinking part of the brain and make the city and citizens active, more architects and designers should start working with neuroscientists to research effects of mental stress in a place and therapists to tackle the same. Other than these studies on most percentage of the population, a space, color, shape of a wall or even a street sign can evoke different triggers and memories for each individual, making certain places hostile and some welcoming.

“Spaces determine our behavior-for the most part without our conscious perceptions.”

  • Dr. Deinsberger-Deinsweger

Architecture and psychology can create massive shifts in cultural context. Partition and bare minimum windows in Rajasthani kitchens have induced division in gender roles over years. This combination can be used to induce the exact opposite effect to instigate thoughts of equity and freedom for future generations. It can be applied to all buildings types and environments we create. This approach can lead to true architectural designs.

The year 2020 has been one hell of a roller coaster ride for all of us. We saw many different industries taking a bad hit due to the covid pandemic, and also witnessed how they fought and overcame this pandemic situation and adjusted to the new normal and began business again in these times with all the restrictions and new rules amidst the pandemic with renewed vigour and strategies. 

The  travel and hospitality industry were one of the first ones which took a bad hit due to the pandemic and sudden lockdowns that happened in India as well as in other countries. The sudden lockdown forced the temporary shutdown of our favorite street food joints and restaurants left many foodies like me heartbroken. I still remember the day when I last went to Tight House one of my favorite local pubs  before the lockdown, never knowing that it would be for one last time for at least next 6-8 months. I still remember visiting the pub with my friend, we sat on our usual table outdoors, we were carrying our masks though we weren’t wearing them in the pub, the distance between the tables in that small pub wasn’t noticeable. It was the day when our Prime Minister for the first time addressed the nation about the threat of Covid and appealed to people to observe a 14 hour voluntary public curfew on 22nd March. Due to initial claims that the virus will slow down during summers ensured us that this would be temporary. We even ended our dinner plan ironically that day by ordering a Corona beer. 

The Last Corona Beer before it all began

After this day, the lockdown and strict restrictions were set in motion in a couple of days. The temporary forced shutdown of our favorite street joints and restaurants made our inner foodie restless and we saw a social media trend of people awakening their inner chef and trying their hands at cooking various cuisines that they craved for since lockdown. We all had put on our little chef hats to try and cook some of the local and international cuisines that we craved for desperately during lockdown. A beverage from South Korea, the Dalgona coffee started trending on social media with everybody getting curious to get a whiff and taste of this whipped coffee. While some were trying their hands at cooking some exotic or fancy cuisines, there were some of us who were rookie and finally took those cooking lessons from our parents that they had been nagging about for a long time. The year 2020 hasn’t been bad if you look at the things that it taught us which enabled us to unlock and witness a new aspect of our personality for many of us.

This year also saw a rise in new small entrepreneurs who rose out of these hard times and pursued their passion of cooking and converted into small business models from the comfort of their own homes. There were many serving good quality home cooked cuisines that we were missing since the restaurants had shutdown like Chinese, Italian, Mughlai, North Indian with some trying to satisfy the sweet toothed ones with tempting homemade desserts and who also helped us to make our Birthdays or Anniversary celebration merrier in this year of fear and distress by baking some wonderful and tasty cakes and other confectionery for us and delivering it at our doorsteps. This year really taught us some valuable entrepreneurship lessons and also gave a chance to those who always wanted to enhance their skills and pursue their passions making a successful business out of it.

Also some food delivery apps did merge with others while some started delivering essentials along with tasty restaurant meals in order to sustain themselves. Food delivery which had reduced drastically in the beginning of the lockdown threatening the income source of many delivery boys that worked for them, tried to sustain themselves through essential commodities delivery. Contactless delivery of commodities and restaurant meals was one of the measures that was followed by them in order to ensure the safe delivery of these tasty meals and other essential commodities. I personally did order my food from these delivery apps from time to time in the past 6 months and they always ensured a hot and healthy safely delivered meal. However, there is one funny incident that I remember with respect to food delivery and the measures we take at home to ensure that the food delivered is definitely safe to eat. I had planned a virtual pizza date with my girlfriend, we both decided to order pizza and have a nice date over the video call,We ordered the pizza at our respective places and mine got delivered later than hers. This was already quite annoying for her as her pizza was getting cold. To top it off finally when my pizza was delivered I decided to take some extra measures like sanitizing the box and sachets of oregano, heating the pizza in the microwave, while my friend was still waiting on the other side slowly losing her patience and me trying to calm her down while going through all the efforts to make my food safe. 

Safe and Contactless Food delivery during Covid

However, after a complete analysis of the Covid situation in our country the government began with the process of unlocking. Almost after being 6 months in lockdown the restaurants in my city, Mumbai started opening up with newer set rules and restrictions that had to be followed. 

I remember the first time since the unlock when I visited a local pub for lunch with a friend, everything seemed very different. Now you always see one of the staff member sitting outside, not to check your name for reservation but to note your personal details like your name and contact number with your temperature and oxygen levels, only when your temperature and oxygen level is at non-threatening permissible level you are allowed to enter and take a seat. This particular restaurant that I visited had well distanced tables in both AC and non AC sections or what we now call them outdoor or open air sections which are considered  safer with the advent of Covid. Since their outdoor section was crowded and after making sure that there is nobody else in there AC section is when we decided to sit there. The table was covered with a thin paperlike sheet which they replaced with a new one after the previous guests left the table. You could also spot hand sanitizer sprays placed on each table. Since we were just the two of us we sat opposite to each other but if you are going with a bigger group some restaurants do ask you to sit on alternate seats hence to maintain the social distancing norm that has been a new normal in this Covid infested world. The glasses and plates were clean and placed in a plastic bag before the food was served to us. It definitely felt safer to visit such a restaurant after experiencing panic for the past 6 months however it still seemed very new and different to us. With the new social distancing norms even when you meet your friends after a very long time you tend to exchange minimum pleasantries sometimes just an handshake followed by sanitizing your hands with a sanitizer or sometimes just a fistbump or elbow bump, this has replaced our usual way of hugging and greeting our friends or close ones. This does not change how we hangout with them and what we share with them later but has surely changed the way of life for us. Outdoor dining has been gaining a lot of popularity this year since the spread of viruses can be quicker in closed spaces or AC rooms.   

Dining in Restaurants after the unlock

Now with the pandemic situation slowly and gradually improving, we can hope that this new year 2021 will enable us to enjoy our meals and dining experience more with the new changes that we are slowly adapting too. Also I would like to appeal through this blog that we need to ensure our safety as well as others while enjoying a good meal for which we should not be negligent towards these safety norms which we tend to forget or ignore in the moment of excitement and enjoyment with our friends, family and closed ones.