Money? Fame? Respect?….. Power!

The typical Indian Middle-class psychology, ‘A man/ woman should always aim to earn respect in his life’. Once you have respect, money, fame, etc follows. Sometimes its Money  that comes first in this sentence, which is followed by Respect and Fame and so on. And in other scenarios, maybe it’s ‘Fame’ that takes a forefront. In this maze of ‘What comes before What’ we spend our entire lives chasing them with a hope that, if I have any one of these the others will follow.

Today a thought really got me skeptical about this whole dynamic of these three words that are given so much importance.

What really matters?

What should I aim for first?

What is it that I would be fine with having and not having?

We are almost two months in a lockdown, fallen prey to a pandemic which is now showing its evil side. Of course, there is a silver lining, of course, we all are healing day by day but there is a loss in the equal weightage or less. But they say that loss impacts us more than happiness or silver lining’s ever will.

So what really matters? 

In a situation where hundreds are dying, a nationwide lockdown, rather low healthcare facilities to the ratio of the humongous amount of population that we have. How does any of our Money, Fame, and Respect make a larger difference?

What difference are our fame bearers, money holders, and respect seekers making?

We are stuck, lucky to at least have our four walls around us, In this scenario even having that is more than enough. A lot of thinking and introspecting has got me to this conclusion that it is ‘Power’ with which we can actually make a difference. You could have the Money and demand your respect and buy your Fame. But how can you buy Power? It is something you gain, through a purpose or a strong motive that drives you towards a greater good. With actual power, you can make an actual change, a decision, a firm headed decision to think about what’s happening, and what needs action. With ‘Power’ you’re no more just an individual sitting in front of an idiot box waiting for someone to tell you what you’re supposed to do or how you’re supposed to help them in exercising a decision. I guess that’s why they say that so and so country is a ‘Superpower’.

I ain’t saying that what governance we have right now is in an utter mess. The authorities are working as much as hard to make sure of our safety while I’m just being a writer hiding behind a laptop. But I feel now is the time to realize that, you could make the most money or earn as much as respect and Fame but in times like these, Power can only save the world. 

 

Daily Dilemma of a 40 Kg Girl!

So here we are, self-quarantined (well, most of us!) amidst the chaos, washing our hands and keeping our distance in all this madness of the COVID-19 outbreak. Staying at home being the couch potatoes or doing our daily work submissions in our pajamas and primarily just eating!

Eating! And gaining our share of pounds.

It is just another self-quarantined day for me, here I am on my desk/workstation/bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a bowl full of cheese popcorn, filling up on the calories which obviously my high metabolism won’t let me gain. And no, this is not me bluffing about how I am a thin person who can eat whatever I want and not gain a single gram. This is me really frustrated about it. I’ve been exactly 40 kilos for the last 7 years of my life. It is probably the only constant thing in my life over all these years, my weight! And these years have been a constant trauma from feeling deeply embarrassed with the ratio of my age to my weight struggle to looking 16 even when you’re 22. And not to mention, the constant jokes and gags that were targeted to take the embarrassment on another uphill.

So what were the solutions I tried?

Gym? Yes! (Only to get remarks from aunties that I should just be home eating rather than working out and losing more)

Yoga? Yes! (I was introduced to another set of similar aunties)

Some baba giving some churan? Yes! (Nah! Didn’t help)

Eating and Eating a lot? Yes! (And then follows diarrhea!)

So yeah, I’ve tried pretty much anything and everything over these years. From working out to feel hungry to feeling hungry and overeating, over gluten-ing, to over everything.

And people say it’s easy to gain!

On one occasion family lunch, I was eating my regular quantity of food when I looked at my sister who weighed around 70-75 kg, eating half of what I had on my plate. When I interacted with her, I realized she had a tendency to gain weight faster. As fast as I eating a whole pizza and gaining none, to her eating a single slice and gaining half a kilo.

And people say it’s easy to lose!

That moment changed my entire perception of looking at things. We were all struggling but in different ways. None of us are happy or satisfied with the way we look or the way we feel. We all want to change something or alter something. And that’s why we are sold at 50 % off on yearly gym memberships on the new year’s eve, to support our resolutions and plans. That’s why beauty portals or pageants make so much money. We are all insecure about some part of us on which many such leeches group and pester us. We go to gyms, we work our asses off on the treadmill, we walk the mile, we compromise to compensate, just to fit someone’s ideology of ‘perfect’!

I sometimes want to ask this person who started this category of ‘perfect’, that who decides what is ‘perfect’ or appreciable or fit or unfit.

Seeing all these people every day, each having their own struggles with themselves to look a certain way, to fit a certain criterion, has always got me questioning, why?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Constantly trying to fit in, to make it happen, to be a size L from and XL or vice versa. Why is that constant need to enter the league, the one which everyone seems to blindly follow?

We all decide on our ‘perfect’. You, decide you’re ‘perfect’!

If you want to fit in that 28-inch jeans and you work your ass off because you want to do it for yourself, that’s great!

But it’s also okay to buy a size bigger because it’s freaking available and you want to, for yourself.

There’s nothing really wrong with the people around you, there’s nothing wrong even with the jokes around, as long as you are okay with yourself and you know what your ‘perfect’ is!

On Death and Dying – A day at a Crematorium

Architecture is a bat-shit crazy course to study.

I feel it’s one of those ‘high on exploration’ type of stream that encourages you to get out of your box and just live and explore. It mainly runs on the fact that it’s only when you explore or see and absorb enough that you can ideally identify problems that need an architectural intervention for the same.

It’s all nice and bling until your thesis or rather ‘Design Dissertation’ part arrives, which is a layman term means the entire motive of your career will be explained through a single black-colored book, also named as obviously as it can be – ‘The Black Book’.

So for this particular subject, I have decided to work on a Crematorium. Now if I had to describe it in a usual way, a Crematorium is a space where a body is disposed with the method of Cremation which generally involves burning it. Now if I had to describe it ‘Architecturally’, a Crematorium is a space that evokes remembrance and longing for the lost one, it mainly deals with spaces that are sensitive to areas that cater to give the user a sense of sensitivity towards the lost one. Well… Yes, We architects can romanticize even death!

Now a lot of thought and introspection along with some ‘Let’s do something new and unexplored’ led me to take this as my ‘The Topic’ of my career introspection. And that is how this topic led me into many such Crematoriums to study.

For starters, they are NOT scary spaces with probable ghosts hovering around you!

I visited my first ever Crematorium in Pune at Vaikunth Smashan Bhumi. Now, my basic perception on a very primary level was that- there’s death all around, mourners are wailing huge cries, there are no women (Because of our religion and its biased views on Women and Death) and I’ll be the only one in a sea of wailing men.

Now, What I actually saw was a stark opposite to what I or well, most of us perceived. There were no wailing people and Yes! There were women in equals to the men along with some kids to my entire shock and terror. These small groups had a strange silence between them with each member lost in a state of trance or unknowing. Their faces had a different glow, different scary glow, which sent chills down my spine for a while. Space didn’t have death also everywhere, in my imagination I had a perception of seeing a dead body at every 10 meters, Until I saw one burning on my 14th meter, I guess. A nice fat guy burning with 40% left of him, a fallen corpse with a disfigured face, left in its state for its next process of collecting the ashes. I sound so unaffected by saying this, right?  But I was terror-struck and shell-shocked to even move a single fiber in my body. My first ever dead body, as petrified as I was, it was also a moment of intrigue that was triggered in me, with the intrigue staying at a backhand. I looked him in the eye exactly after 2 minutes of trying to do the same. It’s only when I ‘looked him in the eye’, that I realized that it didn’t have one, the fire had already taken that one with it. Spooky!

Although they say that the same thing repeated twice doesn’t hold the same curiosity as the first one, I almost puked when I saw my second dead body.

  1.  It smelled like a fridge which housed stale fishes along with some dead rats.
  2. It was ‘very’ decorated and made to look a fake kind of beautiful. Like, Hello! Should I get my Book to note down a Makeup tutorial or maybe that one was a makeup blogger :P.

I did lose my sense of intrigue on that body, right there. Then I saw my third, fourth, fifth and so on. And post a series of approximately 6 dead bodies with 60 ‘living’ bodies around it, I became accustomed to a Crematorium and got my lost sense of intrigue, back!

It’s that point where I actually started seeing a Crematorium as a practical space that dealt with a very confirmed state of anyone’s life – Death. Roaming around that entire precinct and interacting with the workers there, I realized they also considered it as a mechanical and practical work rather than huge cosmic reasoning of life and reincarnation and all these things.

So why are we scared of death? Why does a Crematorium or a Burial ground make our bile churn? Why do we treat death as a negative aspect to happen to anyone and everyone?

Life, Hope, and Curiosity of the future is what makes us so scared of Death. The thought that,’Oh I want to do so much in life and what if I could not? What if I die before that?’, is what makes us so scared of death and every space that is concerned with it.

After spending 4 hours in a Crematorium and looking at all the visitors and mourners, it made me wonder how less time do we have to make the most of the time we have. The second thought was, Should I start listing things? Things I want to do or places I want to be? Should I start consciously planning my every second because now that actually counts? The third thought was a bit calmer one, ‘What if I die the next minute, What if a car hits me while I’m back on my way home, then what happens to this list which I have judiciously planned and perfected to every second to make that second count?’.

Yes, we have less time. Yes, the clocks ticking and No, we don’t need to plan it, we need to live it as it comes by making each second the best second of our lives. Only then we will treat death as a celebration not as a mourning concept. Because in the end, Death is supposed to be the celebration of one’s life!

Of all the books and stories I’ve ever read and heard, I didn’t know I will get the most valuable learning of my life by spending an afternoon in a Crematorium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pride with lots of Prejudice

Pride. What is Pride?

Dictionary says –

pride – a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

“the faces of the children’s parents glowed with pride”

 

What does Pride have to do with a person’s emotions?

What should make you feel pride worthy?

  1. “I earn 4,00,000/- a month.”
  2. “I have a house, a farmhouse, and another extra house and another one, just in case.”
  3. Or the worst of all I heard recently, “I find pride to have given birth to 10 kids, 5 sons & 5 daughters. I find myself Pride worthy”, said a random woman on a usual local train journey. In my mind, I asked this question, “But do you find your ‘pride’ in the fact that maybe, just maybe you might have gone a bit overboard on yourself and well on this country or rather this freaking planet? “

If not the Earth, don’t you think you went overboard on your own pockets?

Now having a quick glance through the entire way of dressing up of that particular woman with an almost rugged saree with a small handbag labeled as Gucci with an extra ‘C’ almost in its going years or rather days, I decided to judge the conditions of her entire set up, there was absolutely nothing that I could spot which provoked the thought that ‘I can make 10 babies and provide them there basics necessities well.’

So now comes the question, Why do we do this?

Is it the rudimentary religious beliefs imbibed into us that we can’t make out what is right & wrong about it?

& What is the pride in it?

Pride of capability or superiority or strength?

Its 2019, with all the things and heated topics or discussions and reforms going around the world there are still such people who have structured their minds in a box, A box labeled as ‘Religion’, A box that holds all the religious beliefs that are supposed to be the utmost truth because it is written and preached, How do you not follow that?

If only people can realize that beliefs have to be altered as time passes, that some rules cannot be practiced blindly without giving a second thought or consideration if it actually is the right thing to do.

I wanted to tell that woman a lot of things only to realize that my intention of trying to alter her thoughts will not be effective as she has been in a restricted box for years.

With the humongous amount of strength that woman would have had to sustain through 10 childbirths, was it worth it?

Was she or her husband never concerned about how they’ll feed these many?

How will they be educated?

Will even the basic commodities be sufficient?

So now my question is – What is the Pride in it?

What they call ‘Pride’ is what I consider ‘Insanity’!

 

 

When the heart says ‘Maple wood flooring’ & the budget says ‘Swastik tiles’

Buying a house these days is not a piece of cake. With the rising property rates, taxes & what not…. buying one is like climbing Mount Everest with a broken leg. A common man goes through a lot of struggle while doing so, it starts with the search for an ideal location to live in and ends up with an ideal location that actually fits your pocket. After all the hustle and bustle, being done with the amount paid and the house keys finally handed over to you, what a sense of calm that must be, isn’t it? Now how do you live in a space without certain utilities to ease up your stay & that is when the Interior design part comes into the picture.

The first thought when you say ‘Now let’s do the interior of this house’, you are unaware of a hurricane approaching towards you. You feel like it’s another cakewalk, a much easier cakewalk, where you just have to paint the walls, buy a sofa, get a bed, fill in some cabinets and wardrobes with a few wall paintings to go with it & that’s it, the house is livable enough. But then the dilemma enters when you start one by one like breaking a few walls or creating certain openings into it. Basically the dirt work first. That’s when reality strikes, when the Mason says, “Bhaiya, ye khaali deewar todna hoga toh 10,000/- aur deewar aur khidki todna ho toh 18,000/- .”

So how do you decorate a home in a budget that fits your pocket but at the same time looks classy in its own way?

Here’s how…..

1. Custom-made over Ready-made

If you happen to find a good carpenter with the right skills, this option could save you from burning a hole in your pocket. Local carpenters understand your needs of a certain piece of furniture and customizing it gives you the freedom of designing it according to your space requirement and the budget. The word ‘Customize’ in itself allows you to have unique pieces made just for your homes, fitting your wants.

Here’s the sofa I designed for my home ( Required to fit 4-6 people)

IMG-2673
The L-shaped sofa with two end tables and a center table

It is a compact L-shaped sofa that occupies hardly 30% space in the living area. The dimensions have been kept to fit the adequate requirement of comfort. End tables are added to accommodate more people during gatherings & festivities. Along with this, my typical Indian family was very keen on having more storage space in every piece of furniture that was made. Thus, the sofa has a good utility space underneath the seating. The unit is completed with a center table that has a sufficient amount of storage too.

2. RE-use, RE-cycle…. & every other RE’s

Think before you throw & think a lot. Reusing the old pieces of furniture by adding or cutting down some elements can be a huge cost-cutting factor. You could just Re-panel the laminates or alter a few elements to change the core use of the previous product & end up making it into something new & equally usable.

Here’s a door which I literally reused from my old house,

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All I did was, Stripped down the laminates, added extra plywood to fit the door height of the new house & paneled it. Normally making a new door would have cost me 40,000/- but this one got done in just 15,000/-.

But the basic thumb rule here is to get a good quality of plywood before doing these rather dangerous experiments. Mine just happen to work!

3. Crawford Market = Your home’s best friend.

This place practically has anything and everything you need to fill in a house. Right from lights to carpets to paintings to crockery essentials and what not. If you dig deep, you will end up finding a good collection of clocks, showpiece and wall art for the house. It’s basically a one-stop shop & that too at shockingly lower prices.

4. The Great Walls

Walls are an important design feature in any house. They can change the entire vibe of the space if designed well. You don’t need to splurge extravagantly on Artwork or heavy pieces to make the walls look interesting if you just get the paint right.

IMG-2688
The feature wall in the living room

Vibrant colors used in an adequate ratio can make the space lively and fun. If one prefers to be low-key about the color preferences they can always go for pastels or mild tones. For my house, I chose a Sky blue color (Meadow mist by Asian Paints Royale) for the feature wall while keeping all the other walls white (Milkyway by Asian Paints Royale) because when can white ever go wrong? To make it more interesting I ordered some posters from Pepperfry (It is a lifesaver !).

IMG-2708 (1)
A Pinboard on the children’s bedroom wall

The other rooms also have such walls because I am strong of the opinion that if you get the walls right you’re halfway done.

5. Make the windows & balconies your USP.

 

Your open areas that invite light and ventilation are a key element of your house. If thought & designed well, they can act as good habitable spaces as they catch the maximum attention of a user. As the family has a great amount of love for everything living & green, we got various plants for the house. They act as a good visual feature and help in keeping the harsh sunlight away. Plants cost merely nothing but the maintenance is what requires a lot of time and effort. So before buying it, make sure that you can take care of it in the long run.

& Last…

6. Take a class on ‘How to be a deadly Negotiator’

Negotiation can as well be called as an art which can practically either make a budget home or break one. If one has mastered these skills, you can easily save up a heavy amount under it.

Here are some of the key dialogues which you can use:-

  1. ”Bhaiya, Vo dusre carpenter ne toh hume 50,000 kaha, aap kyu 70,000 bol rahe ho?” (Even though the ‘Dusra’ carpenter doesn’t exist!)
  2.  “Hum aapko aur 2 log ka kaam denge agar hume discount diya toh.”   

The last and the best…

“Na aapka , Na humara, Chalo hum XXXXX amount pe settle ho jaate hai”.

Nevertheless, A house is a space to relax and to rejuvenate. So designing it should ultimately be about, turning a house into a home!

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The Modern Women & Feminism.

 

‘FEMINISM’, probably the most hyped word of the 21st century. A word which beholds the power of crushing every man’s ‘manliness’, if any of such term exists. What does ‘feminism’ have to do with it?

Well, the dictionary defines it as, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes “. Now that is some heavy stuff, isn’t it?

Or is it pretty simple?

Where the dictionary just means to tell us that, feminism means equality, not superiority.

But strangely, sometimes we women just forget the actual meaning of this word.

We all remember it when our man tries to mess up with our ego but we tend to forget this term when the bill arrives. The moment the bill arrives, just in case if the man says, “I think we should split!”, that’s it then, the end of the discussion, the man will just have to go now……FOREVER. Some of them might go in denial, “No, no I don’t do it, I always say we should split because I’m an independent woman & also a feminist”.

But what if the man himself says this to you?

Will you be okay?

Because I won’t be.

That moment when he forgets to open the car door for you, there is some unconscious judgment happening, isn’t it?

Will you be okay?

Because I won’t be.

My kid brother is a year old, all my aunties, chaachis, in fact, the entire girl population in the family including me have this opinion about him that once he’s a grown-up, all the girls out there are going to go crazy for him. But sadly, neither my aunties and chaachis nor do I, appreciate guys chasing me or my sisters. Why are we such stereotypes?

Where does the ‘equality’ part of feminism go?

A guy who is chasing you might be someone’s brother too and his sister may also have similar feelings, right?

So, will you be ok?

Because I won’t be.

So my dear ‘modern woman’, where are we heading?

The 21st century is 17 years old and we have done this to the word ‘feminism’, there are more 83 years for this century to end, may God help the ‘man’. I think its time now we get back to history and get our definitions straight. I know that all are talking about women’s rights, freedom, equality and whatnot, but do you realize that India is the only country where ‘women safety’ and ‘women empowerment’ are discussed together at the same time.

Do you realize that we have immense power in our hands to bring a change then why sabotage someone by throwing heavy words like ‘feminism’ over them?

 

My dear ‘modern women’, where are we heading?

Hi! I’m Ramu Kaka-The architecture student.

I sleep for 3 hours a day, My hand has only one constant function- DRAFTING, I don’t know who is the guest coming on Koffee with Karan but I do know who won the Pritzker this year, I only open my laptop for Autocad or Revit, Valentine’s day is just a day for me filled with my pending submissions…Hi! I’m Ramu Kaka-The architecture student.

I was in tenth grade when I decided that I wanted to be an architect. At that time, I thought architecture was all about drawings, sketching & big sheets, all I didn’t know was what all was actually in those big intimidating sheets. They were just colorful & something beyond my understanding.

I entered architecture,

I discovered that the architecture course doesn’t have textbooks (But all the books in your library or rather all the books are ever written about architecture in the whole damn world are my textbooks).

I discovered that regular study “NIGHT OUTS” & weekend trips or “CASE STUDIES” were the luxuries which only we had.

I discovered the THEORY OF “JUNOON” & “JUGAAD”. Which goes this way, IF YOU WISH TO SURVIVE IN THE “ARCHITROOP” THEN YOU SHALL HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO HAVE A “JUNOON” (madness/insanity) or the sensibility of having a “JUGAAD” (hack/innovative fix) TO EVERY SINGLE SUBMISSION YOU COME ACROSS.

I discovered that CONCEPT, CIRCULATION, VENTILATION, SUSTAINABILITY were the keywords in the field, it was as if you say these words continuously, one after the other & you will be taken seriously.

I discovered my inner strength of not sleeping for two days straight & still carrying on with a smile on my face.

I discovered that every place I went, I judged it, I judged every single corner, I judged the toilet block even when I was peeing. I went into the ladies’ toilet too, just to see how their toilet block was different from ours (Only later, I was bashed by two women for being a creepy guy who gets into ladies’ toilets).

I discovered that losing Charles Correa was as sad as losing Michael Jackson.

I discovered that Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe, B.V Doshi were important.

I discovered the potential of a single brick.

I discovered that despite the sleepless nights & the non-existing social life, Architecture was something I had started out to love. In the end, I realized that it is the only course that has something new & different to give each day. Something so close to people & emotions, something which is all about drama, experiences & so humane.

I used to call myself “Ramu kaka” because of the way we slogged each day in architecture. I felt that our slogging was similar to the way a servant slogs for his master, here we were the servants & architecture being our master. It’s only when I decided to actually try loving it, I became fond of it, It gave me happiness to visualize that was yet to be built, It made me realize the power of the human mind & how far it could go. Unknowingly, I became indebted to it. By the end, I became a “Ramu Kaka” in a positive way to architecture.

Life In A Day

So what exactly is ‘Life In A Day’?

Have you ever been so reflexive that you can possibly predict your entire life in just one day?

Have you ever felt like you are in love in the morning & by night you feel that you absolutely aren’t?

Have you ever felt sorted yet distorted, at the same time?

That is what ‘Life In A Day’ is all about.

It is everything you feel paradoxical about. It is everything you know yet you feel you don’t know. It is everything you want to do yet you won’t do.

  • It is all about living your life in a single day, being reflex, being passionate and being crazy, it is all about making tough decisions because it’s all about that one day, the rest of the days can follow.