Friday, 18 January 2013



Survival and Life in Mumbai – Daily Bread


Squatter Mother, Child and Hearth, in Mumbai

Two generations have born and grew up in Mumbai in subhuman conditions. But no one knows how to give them fair deal as citizens of this great nation.

Mother and Father: Marathi proverb modified
In Mumbai about 60% persons live in "Grey Land Use Zone", which is illegal or unrecognized. They landless, homeless, displaced and marginalized in their motherland. The elite are chasing them away everywhere.

Survival and Life in City: Mother's Little Helpers

Precious childhood learns life-supporting skills in the nursery school of Life itself: there is no better teacher anywhere. What memories would they carry as they grow-up? Who knows? They may not have entered even the Census Survey of India. 

Mother Nature!, Give us this day our honest bread!
The marginalized and displaced have no demands even for their needs
from anyone.

Learning aids - 1
This hawker on street has her kin and clan and close-knit community scattered in city: They don't suffer Identity crisis, though homeless in their Motherland.

"यही मुंबै मेरी जान ।"
This Mumbai My Love!


Street vendor in Mumbai

This street vender, though s/he may be illiterate, but knows well:
  • about 'survival' (meaning, to live sanely) better than 'Authority';
  • about what things sell in this metropolis;
  • about life that teaches lessons in the country-wide-classroom;
  • about authority that is a faceless entity;
  • about glossy paper books that fail to teach lessons in Real Life, Down to Earth;
  • about the pampered kids pushed to live in the Virtual Reality, day in out;
  • And about how to save to her portable shop, from the baton...
Street vendor in Mumbai

There are many dimensions to this frugal figure acquired through the glorious past, an Epic Poem in Person.

The elders hardly have time to take their kids to nearby places to look at vegetable & fish market, grocery shop, gardens and parks - though a very few, paddy farms on the outskirts of the city/suburbs or town, which offer innumerable variety in every aspect described in these glossy books, and much more.

Poor kids! Despite affluence they don’t have grandparents who could help, nearby...

Children have countless curiosities — questions, keen observation with all their senses, above all, their spontaneity and innocence!
But before long, before they see, experience and understand the real world around them, not even their immediate neighbourhood, they are pushed into Virtual Reality: Ready canned food, drinks, spices, views in TV, cell phone, MP3, Info-Technology.
At a tender age of 2-3, they are admitted into a public domain called 'nursery school', when they are not even introduced to their kin and clan: So they become 'smart' guys 'n gals.
This is rubbing salt on the wounded cohesive collective by the demise of joint family.
  • Can a school impart social values, which kinship and community could inculcate without a paid lecturer?
  • Could the Industry & Trade remove this social lack of values and morality?
  • Can a physicist and an economist sitting on high chairs at the helm of country's affairs provide answer with rockets and global market economy?
∴ The elders, each one, should try to find the answers.

Life is larger than all Arts, Sciences, Religions, Philosophies, trade, technologies, States... through times and places, — Remigius de Souza

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Jama Mosque at Mandu: Music in Structure

The Great Mosque as Place in Public Domain the then existing kingdom. I looked at it before, and now too, as a citizen first and as a 'worker' to earn livelihood in architecture and town planning, once.
In the realms of Ethics and Aesthetics, whenever I look at it, this edifice as an event overwhelms me.
In the realms of Environment - Ecology - Energy in Nature and Life, I have yet to reconstruct it as then existed.
The NOW, however, exists as remains of history before us. Could we reconstruct with the missing elements, in Holistic Way?

The following snippets in photos and notes are a Virtual Reality, with many speaking blank spaces!

Elevation-1, Jama Mosque, Mandu

There are no applied decorations or embellishments here. The structural system, the true arch, itself creates intrinsic beauty to this place.

Elevation -2, Jama Mosque, Mandu
It is evident in arches, domes, vaults... that make the whole structure with bare simplicity.
The structure moves in harmony at different levels, and it lifts us up as in “Aazaan”; that is the beauty of the place.

External View: Jama Mosque, Mandu

The tropical sunlight plays an important role in traditional Indian architecture, whether it is intricate surface carvings in relief or austere plain finishes to early works.

Courtyard: Jama Mosque, Mandu

There is a saying, 'Architecture is Frozen Music', which we witness here.
The aging by centuries doesn't touch beauty.

Interior: Vaults-1, Jama Mosque, Mandu

 The domes, I presume, may have been once covered with blue pottery tiles. There is another structure — tomb / mosque — at this complex that has a few blue tiles still left.

Vaulted ceiling: Jama Mosque, Mandu
However, any artefact needs maintenance with care, in the spirit of place. Any restoration should be carried with sensitivity.
Any object made by humans starts deteriorating from day one. It does not grow like natural living things.

Vaulted ceiling: Jama Mosque, Mandu

 Jama Masjid is a religious building, hence also public place for all, all the people — the rich and the poor. We notice a remarkable difference between Jama and civilian buildings, palaces etc. Jama Masjid is still in a sound condition, and the other buildings, royal houses... are now in ruins or fast turning to total ruins.

Interior - Part: Jama Mosque, Mandu
The sense of proportion and scale executed in buildings, in longevity of the two domains — public or the Collective and the private — by the then feudal powers, and their builders, are indeed remarkable.

Interior view of Courtyard:  Jama Mosque, Mandu
Compare the two in this reference, today's Power-holders in the secular, socialist and democratic India, and the situation of the public places — water and wetlands, public distribution system (PDS), healthcare, play and games (example: CWG), education, transport systems etc.

Exterior View: Jama Mosque, Mandu

Look at the places under the domains of the power-holders' classes, and in the public domain. Look at the squandering of the scarce resources of the Earth, for their power, profit and self-glorification, which is neo-feudalism, anywhere. One glance is enough to understand for any sane mind!

Basement: Jama Mosque, Mandu
Wealth comes from the soil — grain and/or mineral, not from a mint. What comes from the mint — currency — has no tangible value.

Basement-2: Jama Mosque, Mandu

I visited Mandu decades ago. Perhaps now there is some facelift—gardens with lawn, flowering shrubs etc. in fashion, being a place of tourist interest.

Jali - grill - carved in marble: Jama Mosque, Mandu

Most important part of the whole complex is the 'water management', which I could not document. This part, then, was covered with wild growth of trees, vines and shrubs, and almost impossible to access. I very much doubt if the authorities even attempted to restore this 'historical water conservation system'?

Water management - Part, Mandu
 Work of architecture is better experienced at different times of days and seasons on site until our perceptions are enriched to visualize reality from such mediums as maps / models / photographs / movies / videos etc. Any work of architecture is full size museum.

Perennial Water pond outside Mandu Fort
The entire complex at Mandu was executed by the Indian artisans. There were guilds of artisans or builders in historical times. They carried traditional knowledge and wisdom through generations. Vastushilpa or Traditional Indian Architecture, includes houses, palaces, temples, gardens, water-bodies, town planning and related subjects.

View of surrounding region -1
Mandu or Mndavgad is situated on the top of Vindhya Ranges.This region between Vindhya and Satpura Ranges had a dense forest. It is the ancient habitat of many adivasi communities - aborigine tribes. Forests are their lifeline.

View of surrounding region -2
Most of the forest cover is lost. It still continues to vanish. There great demand  for timber to build cities. The civilized societies in modern times continue to deforest these hills is visible in these photographs. So also there are many hydro-electric projects for the wants of urban habitats.

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.