Silent Spaces GB | Philosophical Science | Science

Silut

Spa(es and Other Stories of

Architeoure

veneer, successive monsoon rains erode the plaster, and the buildings justice' become solemn monuments to decay. Perhaps it is a kind of poetic is then, that the complacency of govemment building and maintenance of ruin, and at the same time quickly retuming new complexes to a state Uringing tnem pfiysically closer to the historic ruins that were their original inspiration.

After Modernism

{,4 -

lirl
148

a supposedly creative profession, the life of an architect follows
t49

a

Silent Sltttccs atul Otltet Stori's of

At(hit'i lure

AJier ll,lo.l.mis

surprisingly conventional progression. Five yerLrs in

a

government

..t,rlrlrrr. -fhe site is visited; more plans are prepared. But before the
,lr.rw irrgs are submitted for the selection of the architect, a more critical task

supporteJ ;chool programme equip him to look closely at the real situatiolls oflife, tike the design of farmhouses, stock-exchange buildings and luxury state hotels. He has the time to think ofutopia, the perfect dwelling' the ideal yeaming provide no of man. But these five years of deeply introspective like clues to creating for the other, more palpably grim realities of city life' golfclub or the homeless lying huddled two-acre shanty town behind the
the

sought on the people who are to sit in ol'the work, the members of the committee who will eventually Itt(lllcnrcnt ,r$,rrnl lhc project to the selected architect. Discreet inquiries are made. llrr'rc is an after-hours meeting in the Ministry. You leam that your father rr rr,, ir t lassmate ofthe present minister's personal secretary. In fact they had

r\ ul(lcrt ken. Information is

in squalor below the Bornbay coridominium' Grirn realities are often too close for comfort, and so best left to those for food who have to suffer them every day. The architect need not forage tap; he has other in garbage dumps; or wait to fill his bucket at the municipal

llrrycr I trrgcther on the college hockey team. Another after hours meeting is '.orrlllrt irr the ministry. A reunion is staged; old and delinquent camaraderies ,r rl lrr orrght to the surface. There is talk of the good old days, a remembrance nI pcoplc lnd places in the old college. In the exchange of glances, and the
rrrr

.Jr.

i:,.

i..

pr-..ring tasks at hand. After graduation and quick licencing' he pro."ed, to a p.ot'essional career with ample and necessary family backing' i\4oney is invested in a recurring fixed deposit; then close relatives are room soughi out for the initial foray into architecture An uncle needs a mov ies' an added to a rooftop floor for his evenings of pornographic Tamil sugar during some national aunt requires a store with her kitchen to hoard product shortage; a senior cousin manufacturing some defective consumer wants-a cheap shed built quickly. In a country of middle-class and family entrepreneuli, there is always an architect nephew in close proximity' Professional life gets quickly under way' A local bank needs laminated counters and an elficient allocation of space to make up for the inefficient banking system. Yesterday's student becomes today's architect Designs u.e made.'the filst lines are drawn on paper; there is a discussion with the the bank manager; he makes some suggestions. The desks are shifted on -another drawing is made' more paper is used up' The plan is floor plan; approued; the manager is pleased. He also has a small plot of land in the job; and more outlying suburbs; he wants to build flats. There is a new drawings. The design accommodates four apartments, but the manager *ants Jight. You eliminate ventilation in the master bedrooms, all natural is light in tie living-rooms, and manage to squeeze in twelve' The manager hippy. He gets you in touch with his brother-inlaw who has acquired cheap tuni n""t to tit.'"fnuent disposal unit ofan industrial township The brother wants to build luxury apartments. A competition is announced in the national papers for a govemment institution. It is a sixty-acre site and a seventy-crore project; no' it is a seventy-acre site and a sixty-crore project. Either way it is enough money certain to proiel a fledgling practice from uncertain obscurity to sudden and
150

rrrsingly genial toasting with bootlegged Scotch behind half-drawn
Yorr rnove

r rrrtrrirrs. u

deal is struck. iiom the small office below the garage to a larger five-room ,rl orrrrrrodation in a commercial centre. Draftsmen are hired; blinking r ('rrl)ulcr terminals are installed in a glass enclosure along the passage to rlr. r'on li'rcnce room. Rows of laminated table tops, with personalized neon r r rln \. ir fc arranged in neat rows to express the changed stature of the office. Nl' rrr()rc kitchen extensions or family houses. No more garage renovations lor {lislirnl uncles. Instead, there are industrial buildings, vacation resorts rrrrrl lrousing projects to be done. Work proceeds at a frantic pace. There are r rrccl irrgs with contractors, discussions with clients. It is a life of stress and rrr rcl y, black coffee and missed sleep. The office is a commercial success; I' rrr Vcspa scooter has been gifted to the servants, a down payment made r rrr ir lirrmhouse. It is time to tum your attention to some philanthropic work.
r

llrr.r'c is a luncheon meeting with the Managing Director of NUDA Nrrt ional Urban Development Authority) at a local hotel to discuss the plans lor lrousing refugees. A major cyclone has hit Bengal. Hundreds have died, rrrrlliorrs displaced. What a calamity, what devastation. You shake yourhead rrr rlislrlief. Human life is so fragile, you think. Then you sip the draft beer. llx' Managing Director too sighs with a kind of pragmatic sadness. You , rrr lcr lunch. Over a barbecue of rare meats and freezer-chilled beer, in the I'rrlrrr of the hotel's tandoori restaurant, thoughts deviate from the urgent rrr.crls ofthe destitute to other, more suitable, middle-class orientations. You rlrscovcr that the MD has some prime beach front property in Goa, twelve rrr rcs of coastal land, which he procured while he was the Chairman of the Nll ional Council for Resettlement Housing (NCRH). A ncw resort project enters the office; the staff is kept busy for another
t51

Silt:nt Spu( (s onl Olller Stot-i?s (t At (hil.t lurr

After Motlernisnt

two months drawing plans, making perspectives of grass-roofbd buildings along the seaside, drawing pictures of foreign tourists sunbathing on the sand. Once the hotel is completed you are on the road once more, sending 16sum6s to potential builders, wining and drning with the hard corps o1'risitig industrialists, hanging about the club bar, dropping visiting cards in the hope that more hotels and restaurants and gliding clubs the benchmarks of India's progress-come your way. You are even asked to teach at the local architecture school. But of course, you tum down the offer; you are wairing fbr a foreign university to make the same offer. Such a hectic schedule becomes possible only when architecture is perfornred by an army ofmechanical aflists, sitting and drafting away in the factory-like neutlality of a warehouse. You need more rented space with more desks, more aisles than a wholesalc supermarket. A stake in the country's pl'ogress requires increascd numbers ofpeoplc all bent in humble subservience to creative tasks, covering a wide diversity of projects. The plan fbr a mental hospital is being discussed in one comer, designs lbr a country club are appearing on the printer in the computer room; drawings for a high-density, low-cost project to house the underpaid workers ofa beer bottling plant are being coloured for a presentation. Architecturc is measured by production and deadlines. After a while even the distinctions between the different types ofbuildings you are designing get blurred. You move about the office in a state of vacuous tension, passing judgement, throwing out a range of over-tested ideas, shifting fiom seat to seat like a grand master moving to clil'ferent chessboards in the thick of some creative spasm. You learn to use phrases like 'l want results' and 'Do you think this is a govemment office' with the junior staff. You know that, to the unpractised eye, a golf club plan can easily pass for a mental asylum; a centre for the rehabilitation of the criminally insane requires little modification to serve as a govemment office building; a parking-lot can easily function as a children's playground. You are the architect, and or.tly you know the difference; it is best kept that way. Once all the drawings are ready, they are passed to the paste up department to be humanized. Befbre any potential client gets a viewing of his mental hospital or chilling plant or golf course, people, plants, dogs and
trees arc peeled otTplastic sheets and applied to the surface ofthe drawings.

l rn)'(lonr can be purchased in the desired size, peeled and pasted on, just lrl,( l)()stage stamps. With enough people and oak trees stuck in the lorr','rourrd of a proposed building, the architect can transform the I'rr.,orr likc confinement of his housing project into a great salubrious , rrr lrrvt'. With people walking about in fur coats, and nannies wheeling
I'lor
rr

['

babies under the shade of maple trees along sidewalks where couples

.,r,.,r;rpingwineataroadsidecafeandexecutivesexitingfromItaliansports L ,r \. ( vcn the design of a new govemment mental asylum in Bihar can be
rr r,rr

lc lo uppcar deceptively close to a Florentine piazza. But then, this is not

r, ,rl lrlL'l

There is no longer any necd fo draw like Michelangelo or Frank Lloyd Wfight or even Peter Eisenman; the hand need not leam to depict ordinary life on a piece o1 paper, when all aspects of the human, animal and plant
r52

if is only architecture. Ar(hilccture, after all, is a noble, almost spiritual thing. It is beyond r, t,rorrtl). certainly beyond abuse. It is to be looked upon with awe and ,r, lr r irtio'r. Its unadulterated shape, right out of a geometry book, is to be .r|1rrct irlcd for its immense lunar starkness, its undying commitment to rr,r kt rlcorcrete ornaked brickwork. In nakedness is the honesty ofcraft, in rr,rl.r'rlrrcss is truth revealed. And the good architect is never afraid to bare ,,ll llc knows that people find comfort in the belief that the unblemished rrr l;rrts of their building will bring them closer to perfection, even though rlrr', prrlil y of surface may actually conceal acres of cramped airless space. I I ll r rlrrt hardly matters. People are required to stand back from the building, r,.r r l. wist lully at the clean lines and reflect that, yes, we are, after all, better rlr.rrr primitive man. We are a gifted and civilized race with refined ., rr:,rhilities; the concrete megalith in front of us is proofof it. Andafterwe lr,r v, lrrzcd long enough at this graphic symbol of utopia, at the vision of a l', ,rr rtilirl and pure world, we can retum to our rat-infested houses and damp r,'ll( nrcnts, but as better beings. Architecture has, indeed, affected the ,lrr,rlrty ol our lives. ,\rrrl you as the architect are a savior. You guide the viewer into the I'rrrlrlrrrg the way you first experienced it on the drawing board. You have 1,,rrrr:;lirkingly designed memorable spaces with North Iight and cantilevered ,r,rr( irscs, awesome hallways that would makg great, possibly double ,t,r ( ir{l photographs in American magazines, with an accompanying article "r "l lre Ncw Purism' or 'The Metaphysics of Architectural Space'. And lrcrr sorncone strays off the tour to look at a room or to use a bathroom in rlr, lrrll. tn spit on the wall or to misuse a balcony, you gel hurt. But before 1', r,1rlt' rrove in to destroy the sanctity of the space, pictures are taken; long, ,r rrlt' rrnglcd shotS of empty concrete halls with diffused light but without a 1'lrrrrrrrcr ol life; sanitized bathrooms, tiles still in place, smelling fresh in
rrr

153

Sil( tSN&,tunL! Oth(t Staritsol .4tthit(1utt the photogmph. For thc cxterior, a carcfully chosen angle can help you obliterate the unsightly slums between whicl.r your architccture has corne
up.

,4fttr ltlotlernisnt
a while you begin to sense anugving ,l l(lr chilnge, for yet another intellcctual cxpcdition. Building, atier all, \\.r,, tust a llct ofordinary life; anyone could build-dcvelopers. enginecrs. lr, r , rr r irtklicts. housewives, used car salesmen. village fblk; but archite c ture ' ,, r .r rroblc. spiritual thing-and certainly not for evcryonc. [t was ,! liu rl to reaffirm faith in a profcssion that had fallen to disrcpute . And ',ln,r flr,i l()r rllost people it was not possible to practice alchiteclure in the I'rrrlrlrrrl:s lhcy made, other suitably rewarding outlets were sought. I,.r, lr rr rg. r'csetrch, writing and acaden ic tlebate became critical nrediations t,1 rr lrrclr Prolessionals could legitimateiy say: Yesl Wc are indeed betler' rlr.rrr rrrrrrlrls; we are all here to change the world: we all wanl to explore r,,u , rnilonments and ways of living; but let's do it first through ,,,r(l:, u,ords uttered in a roOmfulol inquiring 1aces, words in an impor1unt ,rr' rrirlio,)rl design jour-nal, or words spewcd out in a seminar. Wolds still !r ,r 'l!,{i lrrrrily that in architecture was lost in the mess ol the building siLc. ir rew architectllrc began to be talked about; a new architect urs in rl,' r)r;rl\ing. All the hcady scenarios:rbout lhe importance ol-prop,rrtions rrr,ltlrr lr u rnirlr ist values of the Re naiss;rincc co'-tld be learnt in thc c lassroom. 'll rlr, l)hrilses like 'decolonization of semiotics' and 'assemblages of , l, , , 'r..tr tct ion' could be pul 1() use in a semin;rr. The idea was io pre ach but i,, ,r t,r, r( ( icc. In any case it certainly out-classed having to deal with a client ', lr, , rr i.,lrccl 1o usc your services to builtl a rcplica of Tutankhamen's tomb ,,'r lr,, l ir rr ily house in B angalore. It was certainly far pleasanler to cxchange

tt,rr rlrc s(x)d I'eeling does not last. Aftcf

,,, ,

A year later, a model ofthe same building displayed in its lobby and the carefully preserved photographs remain the only evidcnce ol the originai vision. But they, too, Iike your menrory, arc now blurrcd and latled; rhc model. the building $'ithin thc building, is now only a caricarure of an architecture that has quickl)' givcn way to the leality of its occuptrtion: tlte rvalls are stained with red.iuice. the rvindou's ofthc hallwavs ar.c pittcd anrl broken. shards of glass lic on the staircasc. A iaint srncll of ur.ine anrl turcl nr ixes with the North light falling out of thc srnudged panes ofthe clerestory. These are bu1 the minor gricvances of an archilecLure now fbrgotten. Plans and photographs of it were once publishccl. but rhey are liled awr; in u portfblio, and you've moved on to bigger and betler assignments. dividing lime between the ollice a d lecturing at tbreign universities. You have been asked to show slides at the Council ol Architccture meetings :nld presenl your work to an international folum. Who knows, maybe some clay vou'll even win a gold nedal. Howevcr in real life, a life known only to thc arcllitect. vou are a specialist in mimicry; a middleman with a bagful ol gimmicks. You stand solerrnly between client and contractor. trying fbr your onc pcl cent fee to rcconcile the obscene ideas of the onc with the mediocrc practicality of the other. You know that such architeCture requirc\ n(, genlU\. o Cr)mmon \ensc. All that is needed is a readily available catalogue ol spale parts ancl cheap labour ltl set them up. The futurc is bright. becausc your status in the social schente of the city is recognized by thc symbols of the lif'e you have created for yourself. Lying low in your curtained Contessa, you relish your stable position in the architectural hierarchy. In the office you are a genius of unparalleled creativity; at home, a family man, a passionate and loving provider. and in the world, a vanguard of moraliry and honour. You have arrived. Alone with your Diner's Club card, valid only in India and Nepal, the keys to the second car in your breast pocket, a vacation cottage in Goa for the family under construction, you let out a sigh of satisfaction; for effect you let a tear roll down your successful face. It is a good life, a life lived well only because it is lived at the expense of others. Life is hardl life is good; life could be better.

r

rr rr l, | ;rr

rccdotes about Iow-cost foundation details over a sauted chicken dish

r r rlr, r
rrrr,

ir conditioned basernent of a hotel, than exchange harsh words with

rlr, (r)r1lactor over low-cost foundation details on the work site in
i
srrrttnter.

:,{r irrchitecture acquired a shiny new set
, r 1',,rrornically

of sociologically conscious,

promising, anthropometrically correct justifications. When rlr' ( licnt was an unknown mass ofpeople who only wanted a place that let ,ll .r lrtllc sun and kept out the rain, or who wanted a tenace to hang the l,r r r( lly, or a separate entrance for the mother-in-law, the diffused terms of .,,r'rrrlxrsiumpaperweremoredesirable.Whenyoucould say withastraight

l,rrc that the passive inclusiveness
,

of

individualistically designed

'\ r()rrnents discouraged meaningful social development, you knew you lr.rl rrttluired a much needed sense of intellectual propdety. Moreover, if
,,

tr,rrr.,pccialistsfromallovertheworldcouldgatherataprimaryconvention rrr c in the capital for the Annual Dandruff Convention to discuss, in all
t55

154

Silent Spaces ttnd Othct Stoies

oJ At

chitcLtuft

Alit'r Modernisnt

seriousness, the tertiary advantages of herbal hair oil on the secondary roots of loose hair follicles, architects too could certainly get their act together to rent the same space for a two-week session on 'Pluralistic Omamenration

tlrcrnsclves, they could carry on a conversation in the most intimate and l|'lrt lle arted manner. 'I lcllo, Vishvanathan, haven't seen you for a while.'

in the Residential Structure of Tribal Societies', a far more culturally
relevant topic than falling hair follicles. So the architect began lo aftend conferences to discuss the state of his world. As a sensitive artist, he felt pained at the gross violation o1'city rules, at the mismanagement. of the prof'ession, at the violent crimcs people committed around him in the name of architccture. The newer structures were an affront to his sociological sensitivity, his humanism, his compassion. He felt rotten, rotten to the core; his was the only balanced view, the gentle voice of reason. But nobody was about to listen. Still, he talked on, discussing the topological and metaphorical origins of spatial continuity as an inteNention of the architectural conditions that could symbiotically suggest a successful paradigrn for the new urbanism, and yet be valued for having laid the ontological groundwork for contextual modification. Then, he wondered aloud, to what level, in fact, to what height of morphological fruition, would the cunent dialogue on thematic displacement permit him to respond culturally and sociologically to these issues. Not to rnention sexually and politically. The architectural polemicist could not be outdone. He was not talking or wdting fbr the common man in search of a shared understanding of architecture; since ordinary language had already descrted him, he was unable to communicate to the ordinary man anyway. He began instead to write for himself. The polemics of architecture, the ontological groundwork

'vc bcen busy.' 'Itctlly'? With what?' 'Well, I've just been tied up trying to resolve this whole issue of using l r lrrt l ionism to arrive at a linguistic basis for contemporary symbolism.' 'llul what's the problem? Are you looking at symbolism as a thematic l,,r r .rlctcr or just a formal device?' 'Ncilher, actually. I first wanted to explore the experimental nuances of tr '.,t rnodemism to search out il conceptual paradigm.' ' Wcll, conceptual paradigms have never really bothered me.' 'Ycs. I notice you've always maintained a strict dividing line between rll rrrrplicit psychoneurosis of volumetric delineations and the obvious ,, .rrr{cncc of spatial dyspepsia.' I llrvc, haven't I? But not for ontological reasons. It'sjustasaferline.' Srrlcr line?' \ cah! Who knows when you might be asked to defend your stand to .,,rr( irate Bolivian intellectual.'
'|

Srrrc.'
l l

hlt's not the only problem. There's very little resource material on the

rrrl)tr.'

for contextual modification, as he so lovingly called it, could

lr t's surprising. For such a common subject. I have a copy ofProfessor Ballaway's report on the applicatjon ofdiagonal disposition on the . , ,lr rrrctric altemations of monumental surrealism, you know, the simplified
\ rrtony

be

conveniently stated without repercussion or embarrassment in professional joumals. journals whose readers were only other architects who wished they had said the same thing first. But in using words like ontological, metatransitional, and contextual on a daily basis, without even a hint of a smile on his face, his manifestos became utterly incomprehensible. After a
period when sentences began with phrases like 'typological pluralism' and

for the seminar on "Contemporary Structuralism and Reality". If you like. I could ask Tony fbr a copy of his new l' ,, li)r you. I'm going to be seeing him next week in Brussels. You know, '1, i, ,r rlre Neo-Rationalists Meet. Are you going for that?' ' No. I don't think so. My wife is expecting. Besides, I want to stay around lr, rt lirr that "Transformation of Conjecture and Visual Dialogue rr,rrlshop".' I ,,

'

r.,rr)n he submitted l( siastical

'the simplification of Neo-rationalist figurative complexity', even

the

architects began to desert him. He began then, to write fbr other architectural cartographers, a miniscule group of luminous minds whosc sole interest was to place architecture in appropriate sociological, metaphorical, ontological, economic and political contexts. Their numbers-like the Parsis-were dwindling. But there were enough of them worldwide, so, at least amongst
156

I

fickle society we lived in, transformation ofconjecture and visual were, of course, extremely critical issues and cenainly very 'lr.rlolluc
ir r

t n the

r,l( viurt lo the making of a new world order. But ecclesiastical and figurative
r57

Siltnt

S1;aces

uutl Otlt?t Stttiirs ol At

L

hi

tut

r
lr, rcinafter called

After

ll4

ad(

t-t1ist1t

rationalism and conjcctural transformations did nothing to solve the ltousing problem: rcdLrclive stnlcturalism. or its opposing telldenc),, structural reductivism, though verv commcndable ideas on papcr, did nothing to provide low cost latrincs 1br tlle rural poor. So anothcr counter group of likc-nlindecl prof'essionals began fbrming. Thcy were a new breed of socially conscious radicals who insisted that even

'the committee' was set up. The shorthand staff was .rlL rtcd. The committce decided to state unequivocally that the foliowing I'{,inls should be madc national policy; il not national policy, then at leasr l,'r ll plactice. One, all rural atcas, hereinafter called villages, were to be
t'r,,v ided with adequatc shelter- Two, all adequate shclter, hereinafter cal led lrorrscs, were to be retrofitted with metal pipes; three, all netal pipes,

if

architecture had no relevance to society, the topics

ol

discussion on

lr,rtinaftel called nietal pipes were to circulate safe drinking water
tlrr

architecture must have national relevance. One group met at fhc'iaj Hotel tbr a five day discussion on the provision of low-cost housing for the rural poor; another met across the street at the Sheraton to see what could be done to provide low-cost latrines for the rural poor; a third was meeting in another hotel in a different city for a more holistic assessment of the situation-how to provide low-cost houses and low-cosl latrines for the rural poor, all in one go. Dr Ranganathan, a specialist in the field of low-cost latrines, spoke on the fiscal lapses in the implementation of rural land allocation policy which was affecting the supply of sanitaryware to the villages. It was a masterful and studied presentation by a renowned academic. Dr Swaminathan waxed eloquent on rural water supply. raw sewage and drainage with respect to the birth rights of tribal women. It was a serious view of a touching and deeply personal subject-given that Dr Swaminathan's rvife was herself both, a tribal and a wontan. Then there was a break fbr tea ancl non-vegetarian \pring rolls, after lvhich Dr Vishvanathan, wlto had just returned from a two year course in Swcdcn on social reforms in backward societies. discussed the sociological obligation ol rural children to provide a better iife for their rural parents. His was a specially relevant paper on a local subject viewed flom a foreign perspective. Foreign perspective was always the preferred view to a local problem. Then there was a break fbr lunch with a choice of foreign wines. Dr Swaminalhan hacl a light Bordcauxl Dr Vishvanathan a Sangria.

outhout

eerch

house; fourth, ali sale drinking water. . . . Finally, all lural

1r'ople, hereinafter called villagers. were to work in the fields and make their lrvilg in the village itself, till they were otTicialll, sent for to provide ,lonrcstic services or a cheap source of labour for the nearby city. 'I he general idea in all three groups was to ensure, with as little expense possible, that the poor somehow remained where god had meant them to ,r'. l( : in the rural areas. If life could be improved for them there, if they could I'r rv nylon clothes and Maggi noodles and Uncle Chipps in their local ration '.lrops, if they could consume subsidized liquor and contaminated American " lrL'rt in their own small mud and cow dung villages, they wouldn't need r, r'orne to the city and mess up the parks and playgrounds, use up our ' I'r(eious water and electricity or become unsightly blemishes on our .rrlcrvalks. A consensus was reached. It was then decided that if the r, r ornmendations could be drafted in a heavy bound repofi and sent to the rrristry, the cont'erence would have achieved its pulpose. But, before the cting adjourned, there was one iast but important decision to be taken. 'rr, Ilrt rnoderator, with fitting sobricty, put the question to a plebiscite: should rlrt !cnLLc of the next meeting be a hotel in a metropolitan city or should it lu r convention cenlre at a beach resort'l Another heated discussion began. Wlit. someone shouted. We haven't finalised our venue. Venue, what, another speaker addecl. We don't evcn have a guest of
lr,,tl()LLr.

Everyone had the buftct. Fingers and mouths still moisl with curry, stomachs bkrated, the large -qathcring ol fr-iends, relatives and intellectual conrrades latcr broke up into convcnient groups for a ntorc inlbnnal discussion on housing, to chat, snoozc and 1)rt. It was the only tine that the members could lcgitimately hurl ilbuscs without having them recorded in the minutes of the mecting; the only tinle whcn old camiuaderies would surface. and itinerarjes tbr future conferences exchanged. Then a coffee break, and everyone was aroused to the call of rcconrmendations. No seminar was complete without recommendations. A goveming body,
158

Why do wc need a guest of honour'l For the inauguration. What about the Secretary, Urban Developmment? No, no. The seminar is on rural upliltment.
So'l

Let's get a n)inistcr; they always come from some village or another.
Yes. Great idea.

[{ousing Minister'}
We can rebuild his village.
159

F
5tl(nt SpuLes q

l

Oth(r S,oties

oJ

Ar(hitedurc

Alie r

Malcrni:nt

-And

-That pilot

he can pay for it. way it can become a live test case.

Do we have a consensus?

-A

-With services. -Andcan set an example ol incume generation. 'We
generation? generation you mean. -Employmentgeneration. No, income something generates income it is bound to generate employment. -If also provide jobs, no? -And like a small scale industry. -Yes, we will have to prioritise . . . .

project. infrastructure?

-lncome

-Ayc, ayc. Nol Wait! He 's a Muslim. We can't have him. -Why not? -We had a Muslim last year. -Time for a Hindu now. -No. Let's get somecne nondescript. Like a Syrian Christian.

-A who?
Scc what I mcan?

-But,

-Whatto see what income groups there are. What kind of plot options, -Just what category of beneficiaries.
facilities also-Communitv be effective. It won't This
l

for?

But ministers always cancel at the last minute. So what? We can always arrange r back-up politician. First he will light the lamp, then cut the ribbon, then make a speech. What about the prayers? Prayers? What fbr? -lf he's from South India we must have prayers. Speciaily if he is a
llr rrhmin.

-Wait. Why?

project.
l
1

affordabiliry? I -And replicability? I -Andwe use market interest rates then there will be an in-builrl -If commitment to the recovery factor. I about the resource-based equation? I -Whatalready have a good resource base. Let us look at long terml -We benelit:. term benefits? Of rhe projecr? -Longthe:eminar. -No. is a big problem. -Maintenance Maintenance o[ the houses? no, maintenance of the records for the allocation of houses. -No, computerize everything. -We'll about the minutes of the meeting? -What also. We will put them on a sloppy. i -Those
1

Well, nobody is considering cost recovery factor. That's true. without the cost recovery factor, it will fail.

i I

They are allBrahmins in South India. We will have to havc prayers. Okay, okay. First he lights a lamp. Then there will be prayers, then the r rlrbon will be cut, okay? -When will he release a postage stamp marking the occasion? 'I'he discussion continues. Meanwhile. in the countrv's sixty thousand rrllages, even though there were no hotels there, the rural poor were ,rllcRding their own meetings to discuss horv soon they should move to the rrt ruest big city and in what numbers. Housing latrines and ministers were r rl low priority in the discussions. But seminars, debales and nteetings were
,'rr cvctywhele.

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Words by themselves though, were not enough. It was all very well to read ',rirtistics on housing in a grim monotone in a hall full of serious people, or Ir) (liscuss the ergonomic view of conceptual paradigms at seminars, but

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,rrchitecture needed the more inrportant backing
( 'orbusier is dead.

of a whole movement.
shoutcd:

llrrrc were still people around-intelligent people-who

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Floppy.

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-Then

its decided. For rhe inauguration we'll call the Housing Minister.

Long live Corbusierl' They would makc licqucnt trips to (ihandigarh, walk along enrpty plazas and remind the inhabitants of the lrlrrcc how lucky they were. But no one was listening to them. Modernism, r h ich was still rampant in India, was beginning to be viewed with the same l6l

rbo

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