Sunday, July 12, 2009

They made us think!

After a fairly active blogging stint when I was in Mumbai, now am back at Bangy-base. Term 4 has proven to be extremely hectic. Enjoying my first couple of hours of free time in weeks now. Thought I should quickly pen down something here.

In the last couple of weeks, 2 great men visited IIMB campus and delivered engrossing lectures. The first one was Mr Nandan Nilekani. He had come just 2 days after he hit the headlines for the unique ID concept. Right timing for IIMB :) He spoke at length about 18 points (from his book). Stuff like 6 challenges, 4 ideas and so on. He then answered a few questions from the first year students (it was their orientation program). A pretty interesting event. But Mr Nandan Nilekani did not want press publicity for that event. Am guessing that was because that was his first public appearance after the news and he maybe wasn't ready enough to face the press. At the end of the lecture, had the privilege of lunching with the man along with the rest of the Student Affairs Council members.

Yesterday, another great achiever made his way to the stone walls of IIMB. You may not have heard of him. But when a person's CV goes upto 127 kB of a clear text file, he ought to be great alright.

Am talking abt Mr B V Doshi - the greatest Architect in India in recent years. A movie documentary made on him was played to us, and he himself was present to field questions at the end of it. The audi was jam packed as the video took us through the life of this person, who at 82, looks decades younger. Born in 1927, this person was awarded the Padmashri in 1976. The documentary was less about architecture, and more about life itself. Amazing person!

Some points that impressed me (paraphrased):
"Indian-ness is about frugality and making multi-purpose things. Look at the dhoti and towel - the standard Indian attire. You can use the towel to shield you from the Sun, to put down somewhere and sit on it, to cover your torso during cold, and so on. Your dhoti can double up as a rope in a small tank to draw water, as a bedsheet and so on. That is Indian-ness. Ingeniously using things very efficiently. That's what I reflect in my designs."
And actually he does that! All the buildings he has designed have been built using inexpensive material that is commonly available in the area. He also uses recycled materials and waste products to bring his designs to life. The video showed how he has designed the sofa/diwan in his living room - It serves as a seating area naturally. If you remove the cushion, there is storage space beneath the wooden planks that are the seat of the diwan. And the wooden planks are all modular - you can remove each one of them and use them as either a plank to sit on the floor on, or turn it top-side down and use it as a tray to get food and snacks!!!
"What is missing today is socially relevant architecture. People are busy in their own lives that when we build something today, we no longer plan for open spaces where people come and meet, sing, dance and celebrate life. We simply don't have the time for all that. Sad state of affairs."
That's true, and is something most people do think about. But one point that struck me real hard was this:
"We do not understand the word 'Heritage'. Heritage to us, is always monuments and relics from the past. Buildings built 1000s of years ago. We never realize that we actually have the responsibility of creating today's heritage that would be celebrated 100 years down the line. We never think of that! And it's not expensive. I always use inexpensive materials in building my designs. Creating heritage is not expensive. We just should have the intent."
How true!! This was the most interesting point that came up during the interaction, in my opinion. A few years down the line, when I build my house I will sure remember this.

One last point. You know what makes this lecture very significant? Mr Doshi is the person who designed our IIMB campus :) He is the man behind these stone walls. In the video he talks of how he designed the looooong and talllllll corridors with neat columns on either side, based on Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple :) His aim, he said, was to make people feel free and non-constrained even when inside the building.

That, he definitely has achieved.


Mak Abhilash said...

Well rittn piece machan!!

King Vishy said...

Thanks da! :) Did you attend the talks?

Unknown said...

blog is amazing...writing is gr8

Rathna Kumar said...

and this post makes me think.
thanks vishwa for sharing these.
Any means of getting access to their speech's transcipts?

nice write-up. '..make people feel free and non-constrained even inside..' :)

Murali said...

as always..nice blog from you machi..the architect you he the pioneer of Doshi builders?

King Vishy said...

thanks man! :)

@rathna kumar..
Glad this makes you think thalai! As for the transcripts, Nandan's speech would not be possible to get.. Will try for the Doshi interaction session..

Thanks machi..
And BV Doshi is not a builder/promoter as such.. He is an architect.. He just designs/plans buildings/colonies etc..

Doshi builders is a different organization..

Unknown said...

You forgot about Harish Kapadia :( He was soooper too.

Unknown said...

Very very nice. Liked all the 3 quotes of Doshi. It makes us think.

But, all your recent posts center IIM B da. Write off-IIM topics too.

King Vishy said...

@karthick prabu..
Dai PP.. You said this before in a comment on another post.. And I replied there itself.. With facts and figures :) Go check!

Girl of Destiny said...

very interesting - both the post and the content.
If Mr.Doshi had been in orkut, I would've become his Fan. :-)

hantan said...

The first example that you spoke about towel reminded me of Douglas Adams' HHGTG. there the description goes
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V,..."
read for more info abt it.

Loved the other points by BV Doshi.. So simple yet so true..

And regarding Nandan coming to IIMB, Can u give a bit more info about why u thought it was interesting? were the questions asked by the students regarding his book or abt the unique ID project?

King Vishy said...

@girl of destiny..
LOL! Nice way of putting that!

Thanks for the towel info :) I too have read the book, but don't remember a thing :D
About Nandan's speech, it was full of practice ways of improving India.. All from his book I guess.. The practicality of suggestions is what made it interesting..
Students' questions were related to his unique ID project.. But am not sure if he will like that to be in the public domain.. Hence I didn't write about all that..