Fields of Gold

sarson fields

This was along a stretch from Hajipur to Talwara, the hinterland of Punjab. Mustard, which is commonly known as sarson is an interesting crop. It holds a unique place in the culture of Punjab. The sarson-ka saag is a unique dish part of the local food. The sarson-ke-khet ( mustard fields) are  a clique and romantic metaphor being depicted too often in Indian movies.

feb_013_1 This is maize or Makki as it is called. It is the bread with which the sarson-ka-saag is ingested. This combination along with white butter, is supposed to give a lot of strength to work on the fields. The Indian coins also depict a symbol of this crop.


Here a kingfisher is enjoying the seanic environment on a sunny day, today.


Making the World and thoughts on City planning

Being a designer, one of the biggest design assignment that you can hope to work on, is the world. However, that job has been already earmarked to “God” with special powers with none with as much talent! :). The rest of us are left to work on the habitable places and create cities, homes, things that go into the homes, things that we wear or how we travel. We can also design the processes which help us to live this life better or more comfortably.

Last week, we studied about five cities and how they developed. Cities, which are the physical representations of need of people to live and work together, create a safe and social environment; have today grown to some place other than that.We took Eixample, a district in Barcelona. Eixample means “extension”, designed by architect, Cerde.

Ildeforns Cerde succeeded in building a plan for a city in that has found itself today after a 150 years as one of the most dense in the world in terms of population (351 people per hectare), dwellings( 230 dwellings per hectare)  and car (140 cars per hectare), with the least amount of private space. His idealized version of a road with chamfered edges created to provide ease of movement of carriage ways, has been challenged by the behavior of the citizens and their growing need of parking spaces who use the open space provided by the plan for double parking of  40% vehicles on the street. He perhaps never imagined how the horse carriages, people & bicycles would be replaced by traffic so dense and the noise it brings to its millions of residents of its numerous apartment blocks.  But then forecasting for 100 years over itself is challenging.

eixample _traffic

The open space left by him intentionally has today become of sea of traffic separating each  mid rise apartment block from the other. Crossing a street from one block to another effortlessly is supposedly a challenge, much less amble or cycle effortlessly as depicted in this 1908 video. However, close by is “The Rambles”,a lively street, which is connected to Eixample.

arterial_roads_eixampleThen my mind wandered off to Renaissance fortress city Palmanova, which was designed circular. Mumbai too, which is extended linearly top and bottom and now is exploring eastwards. Its brought me strong appreciation for Lutyens Delhi. The New Delhi area here is rather well designed with a circle of greenery between each block. Whatever may have been the suburban catastrophe, is balanced by the “clean and green” design of Central Delhi. Just one wish, that they complete the metro work soon, so that we can live to appreciate it.

Five Things you can learn from Birds!

Ashy prinia

There is a difference between looking and observing. You may look at a pretty picture, but you may need to observe more closely why it is the way it is. Watching Birds has taught me more things about life disregarding the assumption of birds as “bird brains”. But there seems to be more ticking in their minds, through self education and the ever present “instincts”. Here are five things that I have definitely observed.

1. Birds get up early in the morning and sleep early at night. The bird gets up early to catch the worm literally! There is this Yellow Wagtail and a RedStart that forage the dust field below my verandah each morning each competing for some tiny worm. Eating a breakfast in the morning after getting up early is another thing you can learn. So, it lives by a natural rhythm that nature intended for it in the first place.
2.Birds of different species live together in harmony. Birds don’t differentiate on basis of colour, sounds of the call or type of nest to be able to live together harmoniously on the same tree and share the same branch or eat from the same fruit. Of course predatory Kites, Vultures excluded and that’s the reason they are mostly found away from these other birds. Unlike humans who seek ownership of whichever place they find first.
3. Birds share the resources with each other. A pair of cuckoos, a Crow, a family of mynahs, a flock of 20 oriental white-eyes and many other birds live on this mango tree outside, sharing the fruit of the tree in season. They don’t fight with each other. Unless they are a bunch of noisy babblers.
4. Birds have Life skills: They know by instinct how to feed their young ones and build their own nests. They are rarely “unemployed” or “too busy” for their young ones basic needs. They have few needs and thus few skills to master. As a result also the young ones mature fast and learn how to fly & live independently.
5.Birds are Adaptable: When it is icy cold in northern hemisphere in winters and the waters freeze, they fly south to better “pastures” by migrating. But they seldom do this alone, they migrate in large numbers and always willing to make the journey year after year. So when a change is required, they make the change happen , rather than wait for something to happen.