24 June 2007

Janmashthmai in Rotterdam ?

Saw a strange sight today (Actually I’m seeing this for the second time since I’ve come to Rotterdam) … the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday- Janmashthmai - by a small Surinamese community. This community has Indian origins (some of them trace back there last generation to live in India up to 6 or 7 generations) .. However, over all these years and literally half way around the world in South America this small community has managed to hold on to some rituals and habits that still connect them strongly to there motherland. Almost all of the older people and a few young people still speak a sort of Bojpuri language… like all true Indians ..they love Indian Food.. Indian Gods .. Indian Festivals (hence this celebration) and not to forget they also love – Bollywood!!

Now the story goes something like this .. these Indians were taken there are slaves by the Dutch .. And after they gained there independence from the Dutch .. the Dutch government offered them a chance to come and live there lives here .. (mostly in the bad parts of their cities – for example here in Rotterdam in the South) .. And long story short – here they are in Blaak plaza celebrating an Indian festival – which most of their kids have no idea what it is ?? or what for?? But the free Indian food and sweet they give to everyone who comes makes it all forgivable..

So how does a Indian community from South America .. now living in Holland celebrate one of their most important festivals – besides the free food, a small ‘Indian’ bazaar, the odd golawala, the good attempt to have a nicely decorated rath for Krishna , they ask none other than Anuradha Paudwal to sing bajans for them …
Yes that's her singing in the middle...

And if that wasn’t enough they even have lord Ganesha himself – in flesh and bone standing with the most bizarre of backdrops (the ridiculous cube houses of Rotterdam)

Though I’m not at all a fan of elephants on streets, I have to say they blend in better back home in India.

11 June 2007

New jubilance

Just back from spending a pleasant morning (with my sister) exploring the city of Bristol. Though this is supposedly one of the big cities of England, it hardly felt so.

For sure this had to do with the fact that today is a Sunday – with the risk of being blatantly generalizing I would say this phenomena of almost empty streets on a Sunday morning is one thing that truly unites Europe – nonetheless, it allowed us to set our own pace and walk through most of the central areas of the city.

Bristol is today known to most people for its great educational institutions and the presence of these can be very easily felt in the city. Besides this it’s not impossible to sense the historical importance of this city through its urban fabric and architecture. One such example is the main cathedral, which convincingly is one of Bristol’s most impressive structures.

Anyways, this small trip to Bristol with my sister at this moment in time would have not been possible if it wasn’t the fact that my brother who lives just an hour away in a small coastal town of ‘Weston Super Mare’ wasn’t having his second kid. Here’s a snap of his new born girl who is named Farheen (meaning: Jubilant) with his 15 month old boy – Fahad (meaning: wild cat).


03 June 2007

Exhibition in Zuid Rotterdam

A second important exhibition of our work in Rotterdam within two weeks of each other … Yippy!!!

All the projects designed during the Masterclass are now in display on the sixth floor of Municipality building in Feijenoord, Rotterdam Zuid.. they will be there till the end of the month.

Check out the project I worked on above .. ( along with Melisa, Lauren, Miha and our guest team mate - Daewon)Even though we didn’t get any mentions.. I have to honestly say – I think ours was one of the best projects.. Our final presentation could have been much better.. But all that lack of sleep was bound to get to us at some point …

After the actual opening on the 3rd of June … A lot of resident groups have been coming to discuss and debate the merits and demerits of our proposals and thanks to our mentor – Martin Sobota – informing us (Thanks for all the support man!!!)..
We were able to attend the day that the residents were discussing our project.. Though the whole thing happened in Dutch I have to say I got quiet a bit of what they discussed and I was pleasantly surprised with the level of discussion and curiosity that our project generated..
In fact quiet a few people even liked it.. : )

01 June 2007

Master ‘Competition’ Class

And in no time there goes another two weeks of my life .. With much more of the usual (sleepless nights, skipped meals and days of horrible back ache) … But this time in the name of a Masterclass that was disguised as a competition between ten of the ‘supposedly’ most important architecture schools in the world today ..

[One of these being CEPT Ahmedabad… It was great to have you guys here … Was great to be able to talk in Hindi (once again) and Malayalam (for the first time) at the Berlage : )]

A Masterclass with Elia Zengelis (seen talking at the head of the table above)and Joan Oakman (seen below).

The Project at hand was to design ‘prototypical’ community centre projects for the lesser half of the city of Rotterdam – it’s south side – Zuid (in Dutch). The ‘bad’ half of the city across the Maas river.

The brief of the ‘competition’ Masterclass to design NON-Iconic projects to tackle issues of everyday for the community.. from small schools to community centres to sports facilities.. However, a large no. of projects short-listed and awarded where in my opinion exactly contrary to this plea. Having said that I have to admit I had a great time with a lot of people.. learned a lot ..and enjoyed myself.

A Google map tracing my travels across the globe

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  • In Red cities where I have lived (more than one month);
  • In Blue cities with entries on this blog;and
  • In Yellow cities with no entries yet.