Saturday, November 05, 2011

A revist in ways more than one!

I did not expect this to happen. No, not exactly, but it is happy coincidence. I am sitting in the shade, this an early November afternoon, on a bench overlooking the little pond that dominates the main square in Paragpur a village in Himachal Pradesh. The water is still, behind a low pale blue wall, and gives no impression at all of life until the first of the fairly huge fish chooses to make its occasional loud splash and disappear again.

Across from me on the other side is a 2 storied building, grey slate tiled roof, white painted upper floor, and earthy red painted ground floor, a neat little projecting marking the separation of the two colours. Red, white and grey – a set of rather formal and complimenting colours. What strikes me slowly is their universality.

At the first instance this isn’t so apparent. But think again, red and white and grey, the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet, of Ladhak and Dharamasala, of Bhutan. The temples of Nepal. The Dzongs of Bhutan, the peoples’ houses, The colonial British buildings of the Raj, the Indo-Sarascenic Style, the Scot- inspired architecture of Shimla and Nainital, red-white- grey, St. Joseph’s College Nainital 1890, Dolmaling Nunnery, Dharamsala 1990.

This is not why I started to write, I started to write, because as I sit on the bench, to my right is a Sulabh Sauchalay, ( yes, I am coming back to that old post out of alwar: see blog post for March 2011) It isn’t out of place, it doesn’t jar, frankly other than an identifiable signboard one can barely tell the toilet from the rest of the place. No eyesore, no jarring, you wouldn’t notice it until you needed it.

It is quiet, it effortlessly finds its way into the frame of an ancient and delicately balanced village. With no disruption or intrusion into the spatial or visual experience of the village chowk and pond.

I have been sitting here for roughly three hours. Yes, the toilet is exactly 20 feet from where I sit, and feels perfectly in place. So does the red white and grey building across the pond, so does the pale blue pond wall, and the fish.

There are now four men sitting on the thin edge between the pond and the building, playing cards. The picture and the place both seem complete, and and yet in that complete-ness they seem like the perfect frame.

There is a reflection of the men playing cards on the waters surface, and I watch it from where I sit. A while ago there was an incessant whirring of the numerous toilors’ sewing machines on the street that leads out left from here.

In a quiet square, a quiet toilet, tucked quietly behind a well kept building.

And then I am reminded of the toilet at Humayun’s Tomb and the dastardly thing at the Royal Palace of Alwar. 

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Hello Sir,

Memories bring out the things sometimes which you expect and sometimes which you don't. Even i get disturbed when I observe that at some place there's good designed building and one of its small component such as a toilet, a garage, a shop etc. or any other structure which is somehow related to it is badly (as compared to that building) designed, placed or not even designed and just placed there. And these small things and spaces which are just kept like that or without caring about the surroundings is what irritates me most. As you rightly used the word "Picture Frame". Every thing should fit into it properly. Just like enjoying a painting of a small bird or a small stone lying in front of a big tree is more enjoyable than just a painting or a photo of a big tree. Small details account so much. And these small details and finishing is what I admire most in foreign buildings and houses (which I have seen in movies only, not just big and rich buildings but also the small and poor houses) that however small or big, fancy or not fancy they are, but they are finished properly, like the painting, the paint between the wall and door, small minute features. But here the paint is never done properly, the tiles are never fixed properly, and so many things which are never done properly all because of those poor workers which have no INTEREST in doing their job, and also the architects who are either not interested or I don't know why. These things on larger scale results in bad placements of toilets in their surroundings.
And again, this is not why I started to write, I started to write, because as I am sitting on the bed which is kept on the floor, to my right is a blue wall on which there are two ugly patches of cement work ( which could have been done very simply and nicely by simply giving a basic geometrical shape to the patch work), and my house design sheets lying on the floor in which I have placed the servant quarters without keeping the entire Picture Frame in mind (although i am not sure that its a bad placement or bad design)and MOST importantly YOUR POST which reminded me of my time in Paragpur in the same place. What I started think and write was the feeling or the experience of visiting the same place after a period of time with different work or different purpose. Suddenly I too want to go to the Paragpur and sit in the same place as u did and just seeing and observing those two buildings in front of that pond with fishes in it. My last and first visit was mediocre but still your post made me wanting to go there again and to experience the beauty of that place again. Its sure that its a completely different experience which you had when you visited that very same place before. Ah those are some nice times and feelings. But then I wrote about the small features as i read your previous blog about badly placed toilets, and I too had exact same feeling when I visited the toilet in the Humayun's tomb campus.
In the end all I want to say is that thanks for writing this post as it helped me to not to make the same mistake as those architects or people did who placed the toilet badly, and I wanted to know about the Feeling when you visit the same place after a period of time but with a different purpose (kind of same as the ad of some diamond brand in which husband-wife rediscover their love in metro), and again this post "A revist in ways more than one!" as I revisited Paragpur, Humayun's tomb, and some buildings or places in which their components were badly placed and small features were not finished properly.

Thank you once again and looking forward to read more posts in the future.
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