Monday, 10 December 2012

OLD CITY SEWER VENT PIPES, MUMBAI

 Relics of British Raj in Bombay


1. Old City Sewer Vent pipe, Mumbai
Very few of these cast iron vent pipes fixed to the sewer drains are left in Mumbai's island city. These vent pipes; about five of them are on Dada Saheb Phalke Marg.

Their height indicates Bombay's city scale then. Now Mumbai is aiming for sky, with glass-clad skyscrapers.

2. Old City Sewer Vent pipe, Mumbai

It is heartening to see people paddling bicycles even today. Banyan trees also add to the city's past. Now the defunct Gold Mohor Mill is on the breaking point. It will be taken over perhaps by new commercial buildings, sooner or later.

The cast iron vent pipes were imported from Britain about two hundred years ago. Of course, from pin to power-loom, most machine-made items ware once imported.

Every piece assembled in this pipe has the maker's name, “CEO. GAHAGAN & CO. LTD.”, placed (See Fig.5). In those days there was no need of mentioning 'Made in Britain'.


3. Old City Sewer Vent pipe, Mumbai

Britain had once invaded 90% countries of the world. Now we may change the names of places, remove statues, repeal acts, but the list is endless. How can we remove deep impressions on our psyche — particularly the elite groomed by British-made education?

City services, such as water supply, drainage etc. should generally last for 200 to 300 years, while those for houses last for 30 to 40 years. This calls for repairs and replacements.

However, the Urban Explosion has been taking place at unprecedented rate, which is worldwide phenomenon, not only in India. It is a gift of Industrialization.


 
4. Detail-1,  Old city sewer vent pipe, Mumbai


The drainage, water supply systems have been under pressure, and are replaced. Obviously these sewer vents have been long defunct.

The citizens should generally be aware of such issues, irrespective of politics of power and patriotism in polarization.

It is not only water supply and drainage but there are many other vital public services: health, education, post and telegraph, gas, electricity, transport...open spaces and, of course, spaces for the cultural needs of the people, especially in the Pluralistic Indian Society.


4. Detail-2, Old city sewer vent pipe, Mumbai

In the democratic society, the duty to bring this awareness among the people falls on the shoulders of media — radio, TV, newspapers... or multimedia, as non-formal education; besides all the levels and streams of the mass education — public or private. Entertainment is trivial aspect of living, not vital issue, but unduly exaggerated by the entertainment industry.
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Knife-grinder at Mumbai’s Bazaar

 Third World India Technology


Knife-grinder in Mumbai

This is an advancement from hand operated emery wheel carried on shoulder to one fixed to bicycle paddle. Knives made of iron are still popular here than made of stainless steel.

India once excelled in iron industry (!) around 200 BC that produced rust-proof iron.


Read a story: Parable of 20th Century Blacksmith of Bhal
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Water Celebration at Sarkhej Roza, Ahmadabad

Traditional Wisdom of Indian Artisans

 

Sarkhej Roza seen from the pond

Prologue  


We, and all the life forms on the Earth, are waterborne. Our first ancestors were bacteria. Our body contains 70% water. Water has special place almost in all cultures.

(Note: The following text generally refers to the Place; and the photographs are not in any particular sequence of the text or the Place.)


Embankment with steps

Sarkhej Pond attached to Sarkhej Roza (14th Century) is about 7 Km from Ahmadabad city. We — SN Kanade, other friends and I — used to take bicycle rides to visit the place. With Urban Explosion now it is part of the city.

Circular Gates for Overflow

This hot-dry region has scanty rainfall during monsoon. Many areas are under desert.


The built tank adjoining the Roza is indeed a Public Open Place. The pavilions obviously ware for royal families.

Land-Water-Life


The Roza, a religious place, a complex of many buildings, has a good Tree cover.
Water from the tank seeps through Soil and reaches the Plants at Roza and goes even beyond.


The water tanks are central public places in traditional Indian cities and towns. This feature of habitats in India is evolved over centuries appropriate to tropical climate.


Villages, too, have built water reservoirs besides open wells. In Orissa villages, the peasant houses have fish ponds nearby.


Reservoirs help to maintain water level in the surrounding wells.
Where there is water there is life — plants and animals.


Ornate Pavilions

Water, Soil, Plants and Animals — an invisible Natural Organic Community — the Universal Basis of Sustainable Life!


Water brings, restores, recycles, and conserves more water through the Natural Organic Community mentioned above.


Water Reservoirs coupled with Urban Forests are vital to relieve the modern cities from being Heat Sinks in India.
The retaining earth around the tank is lined with steps of stones. Imaginative play of shade and light along the day happens!
Due to decades of silting and lack of maintenance, the tank now becomes dry during drought.




The tank was perhaps built under the patronage of rulers. This is an act of returning part of the wealth collected through taxes to People, I presume.
The Complex was built by the Indian Artisans with their traditional knowledge, besides many historical buildings.


Perhaps, now in the present Democratic setup, there is no mechanism for Maintenance of such Public Places by the local communities? 

Water overflow opening from pond side


The local People's Participation is the only way for the governments, in the context of continued maintenance; not the present capitalist system of Public–Private Participation.

Water overflow opening from outside
  I understand, from Internet (Link), an initiative of public participation for restoration of the tank is started. This is a welcome move. Water is brought from a village to fill the pond. Some gardens are developed with lawns and flowering shrubs, typical of ruling taste among the urbanite. On the contrary such a place should be self sustaining.

SN KANADE at Sarkhej Roza
SN Kanade, architect-planner-educationist, now lives and practices at Bangalore  

Any such restoration should be in tune of the 'SPIRIT OF PLACE' and in 'HARMONY WITH NATURE'. 
Some archaeological study of the place could reveal which plants existed in the 14th century in the premises.

A good tree cover brings water to the land, is an established fact. They raise the subsoil water table. In fact the plantation should continue to expand from here in the region, in reverse action to expanding desert!


WHAT ABOUT BUILDING AN OASIS HERE IN THE 21ST CENTURY!!

Epilogue

Life is larger than all Arts, Sciences, Religions, Philosophies, trade, techs, States... made by civilized societies through times and places. — Remigius de Souza


Google Map Sarkhej Pond at Sarkhej Roza Complex

View Sarkhej Pond, Ahmedabad, Gujarat in a larger map
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Toy seller of rainbow colours in Mumbai

Home made toys for all


Toy seller in Mumbai- 1
 This toy is most popular. It is universal and timeless. The young man has learnt this craft by .himself; no schools or books referred to. The question of survival is utmost priority for the displaced, in the hostile city to migrants from villages. He found this option in a most creative way.

It is very economical to build, with bamboo stick, paper and bit of a wire. It runs on wind energy. There are several variations available.

The elders may encourage children to make it, and watch how they could use available materials. They may begin to do it first, to set an example!  

The toy seller arranges his stock with imagination. Whenever there is breeze the toys throw rainbows in 180 degrees.


Toy seller in Mumbai- 2

The toy seller was often chased away by the shopkeepers, if he stood in front of their shops. . Hence he was standing almost in the middle of the street. The two photographs were taken within half an hour, as he moved from one place another.

The Agencies are hardly aware of the Dynamic Energy of the People – Ryot.


© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 12 November 2012

'Honey-Bee-Hive' experience

'Honey-Bee-Hive' — Universal Icon of Environment-Ecology-Energy


Natural Apiary

'Honey-Bee-Hive' experience has a point that we must not ignore or forget.

Bees collect honey by travelling several kilometres daily. Besides they help pollination, which increases yield of fruits and farm produce.

In the 'trade' of 'Honey' the Bees don't receive even a least of the cost, price, value or worth of their labour and skill. Forget profit.

The profit on honey is earned by the third party — agents, transporters, toll-tax collector and traders; it's a long chain from the depleting forest to city.

Honeybees, if at all survive; they lose their home and natural habitat.

It is the same story of the peasants and the aborigines in our agrarian country.


Paddy farming in Konkan | Image by Pooja Rani
One may not comprehend the extent of this work, which spans entire year, from photographs or papers.However one may get a glimpse from "Cow dung, Rice and Amartya Sen (a critique): Challenges of 21st Century" and farmers' needs in contemporary context.

Community Participation is a major common feature of the bees and peasants-aborigines, besides may other species and communities. It is an ancient tradition amongst the peasants of India, also may elsewhere.


They are 'out of sight, hence, out of mind' of the ruling class of elite minority.
 

Honey-Bee-Hive Icon of 
Environment-Ecology-Energy

"Honey-Bee-Hive" relates to Environment, Ecology and Energy, simultaneously and comprehensively. Examples are better than scholarly definitions.

NOTE: The beehive in the photo is a “natural apiary” developed by social workers of Anand Niketan, a NGO in the hills near Lonavala. It is different than that developed by the industrial Society for mass production: a colony for bees made of wooden boxes.

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Hymn to an old man

A graphic by Remigius de Souza


Hymn to an old man

Poem by Remigius de Souza | pen and ink on tinted paper | 29-10-1970
 Remi’s protagonist – the old man – is longing to go back home, homeland, on his last lap. 

The text on the photo:
 

I sing you hymns oh,

   old man on the way back home
   the sleep sings you hymns
   the stars appearing sing you hymns

   the falling darkness sings hymns
   the old tired pathways sing you hymns

   the ruins sing you hymns

   the thick woods sing hymns
   the bamboo sing you hymns

   the waters flowing sing you hymns

   the birds returning sing you hymns.
29-10-70

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Water lettuce, an aquatic plant


Water lettuce: Drawing by Remigius de Souza
I was travelling through the jungles of Dangs in Gujarat. From there I went to the project site of Ukai Dam on River Tapi, which was then under construction. On the way I halted at village Songad. There is a temple and water reservoir on the top of the hill near the village. The water was covered with a floating aquatic plant. It is called water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), ‘Prasni’ in Marathi, ‘Jalkumbhi’ in Hindi, ‘Jalshamkhala’ in Gujarati.
  
The plant grows by multiplying in numbers like amoeba, and each grows to full size. The plant has shape and size of rose flower with roots at the base. Its petals are green – a green rosette of outstanding beauty.
  
A tribal just then reached at the pond. He had walked about fifteen ‘kose’ (one kose is about three miles) to take the plant for medicine for his daughter who had just delivered. I too fetched a few plants to Baroda while returning, to leave them in one of the many lakes there. I left them in a bucketful of water on the terrace. They remained there. In the course of time the number did increase, but their size reduced – it was miniaturised – and finally disappeared completely (probably it was not getting direct sunlight).
  
After a few years, I found this plant (very few in numbers) in a large pond in village at Vasai Taluka.

The aquatic weeds were considered nuisance till recently. They help aquatic ecosystems and recycle waste, reduce evaporation of water. Different types contain protein and amino acids as regards lysine and methionine. They also contain various degrees of minerals depending upon location and season. They are often richer in iron, calcium and potassium than land forages. Aquatic plants could be used as soil additives, mulch, fertiliser, green manure, pulp and fibre for papermaking, animal and human feed, and medicines (best known to the tribal for centuries), organic malts for biogas production and for composting.

Image source: Internet
There is lot of information about this plant on the Internet. Some claims are made about the origin of the in some country or other.

Once in geological time, scientists say, there was a super-continent, which is named Gondwanaland. It was fragmented, and five continents floated across oceans.

Obviously along with land, the flora too must have moved; common sense. The scientists found fossilized plants in Antarctica, which proved it was part of Gondwanaland, the super continent. 



Google Map: Songadh, Surat District, Gujarat
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Circus

Dombari - a caste of traditional acrobats in Mumbai- 1
Dombari - a caste of traditional acrobats in Mumbai-2

 

Circus

From South Pole
To North Pole
Life —
A tightrope walk

(Translation of the original in Marathi, dated April 1984, by the author)

This girl-child doing her circus act! What education shall our benevolent government shall give her?
How long will she take to learn Letters and Numbers?
Her motor ability is so advanced that might bring any young person to a shame.
She is already educated in life supporting skills.
But the government does not recognize her education, and likewise that of millions of royt – Janata!
Isn't it misfortune of the rulers!

Dombari are a caste of acrobats in Indian Society. In the democratic India’s changing economy, they are now vanishing: No rehabilitation, No education. Who cares?

They are mentioned in Siddhartha Jataka (3rd Century B.C). Would they ever reach the Olympics, or vanish, in the Democratic India?

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Tentacles of Remi the Octopus

Self-portrait by Remigius de Souza

 

‘Tentacles’ | Remigius de Souza| 1987 | water colour on paper

'Tentacles', Remigius de Souza's self-portrait, was published on Net but none was moved. Not even his friends!

Sometimes Remi is reminded of ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’ or ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

Remi generally doesn't look into mirror. Because he notices 'octopus' in the mirror! What then could be his misery while wandering the streets of Mumbai metropolis?

He notices millions of people (his aborigine and peasant kinfolks) in the glass-clad multi-storied buildings mushrooming in the concrete jungle. But that never stops Mumbai! Mumbai – as a symbol of centralized power of Civilized Society – carries its footprint on the regions far and wide.

The very strength of the powerful is their weakest point. There is a mythological Indian story of Bhasmasur that repeats again and again.
 
In this self-portrait, 'Tentacles', Remi notices himself swallowing Natural Environment by his tentacles spreading and reaching across regions far and wide.

Call it his misfortune or his fate of unwanted share, or call it a ruthless criticism on Industrial Civilization. Words, images, movies, myths, scriptures, prophets, avatars... all tools to earn (power and profit) and/or entertainment! Does it make any difference?

Remi, however, laughs at himself at his cost.

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Existence-Survival-Decoration

Existence-Survival-Decoration: Painted Poem 



Reality  - Virtual Realty

A 'word' or a 'picture' for a tree is not a 'tree'. Both are symbols. We assume it by convention or as per our level of perception. Its Reality however is complex.

There exist four economies in the Four Worlds of India besides the Parallel Economy of black money, generated by kick back, scams, extortion, corruption (intellectual or financial) etc.

The present democratic government, ruled by the minority of elite class, may not be even aware of this situation. 


Economy rules the roost

The Economy is the life-blood of Industrial Age, not the Ecology, at any cost, even at the cost of 'Land-Water-Life'.

I have been living / working / moving through the Third World India (of peasants, at my formative age), the First World India, the Fourth World India (of the aborigines) and the Fifth World India (of the displaced and marginalized, where I landed, barefoot, penniless, at the age of six... a personal encounter) in real, REAL WORLD, not in Virtual Reality of fiction, photos, movies, multimedia... or discourses. 


Self-expression

During one of the days of my wanderings, this painted poem materialized in 1985, (I didn't even record the date).

In such a state, the dimensions of time-work-speed-place-space are secondary. I wonder if this "painted poem" fits the aesthetics of arts and letters. I doubt if it could be called art or poetry. I am sure it doesn't fit in any compartments created by civilized society, though the words seem familiar!

I doubt if I am an artist in an accepted sense. But this need not block anyone from self-expression!

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 24 September 2012

My Home My Heart (painted poem)

With money you can buy houses,
but money cannot by for you a home.

Image and Poem by Remigius de Souza

House is where the Home is;
Home is where the Heart is.


Squatters in Mumbai: Displaced and Marginalized

(Image: Shelter for the bus passengers / Shelter for the Displaced in Mumbai: Contradiction in Mumbai's Urban Design.
Bus shelter is built in stainless steel: a sexy designer product!
Both together symbolize India's Development Planning, and exposes its hypocrisy.)
 

Whenever I walk down-to-earth in Mumbai I notice 65 million people live in the slums and squatters, struggle for their daily bread.
It is their Daily Prayer in Action to Life. They aren't activist like the elite; they are vacationist without duplicity, and without words.

It seems their number is daily rising defying the official statistics:
Just like the rising national GDP of India;
just like rising Stock Exchange indexes in the money market;
just like rising numbers of skyscrapers rising higher and higher on Mumbai's skyline;
just like rising number of vacant blocks of houses awaiting higher returns of their investments.
It seems all these have lost their heart and home, both, in the money market, though the squatters on the street-side!

The reason to notice them is simple: Once I practiced as architect-planner; once I was a teacher; once I was landless teen age farm labourer; once I too was a displaced and marginalized person. Only I had opportunity for formal education in time.
All these people have come from many regions of India. They come from the places wherever Mumbai has left its footprint. The rulers of India must not ignore this fact. The capitalist – Indian and foreigners – who have settled in Mumbai are capable enough to buy over all of them, but where they can get educated slaves why should they care?

* * *

NOTE: Recent news "2.25 million homes empty, people still homeless in state" Mumbai, Hindustan Times, September 23, 2012 Page 1. 
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 17 September 2012

SRISHTI – SUKTA

PRAISE MOTHER NATURE


Srishti Sukta by Remigius de Souza
 Text:
PRAISE MOTHER NATURE

The home of Mother Nature has no gods-idols-hero worshipers
In biotic - abiotic nature comprehend Supreme Spirit personified;
She is ever visible, audible, edible, tactile, sexual...
Progenitor, boon to mortals, Dance of Life and Death, too;
Mother Nature embodies one Language–Dharma–Scripture–Law;
She is Primal Guru–Primal School–Open Book, freely available to all.

Remigius de Souza | Mumbai | 25-12-2009

Mother Nature at our hand

Mother Nature does neither recognize humans as her favourite species nor their social boundaries and hierarchies.

Plants don't recognize boundaries
Civilized Societies are so obsessed with boundaries that they decorate. add on ornaments, make memorials out of them and applause them, such as Great Wall of China, which is no more than a symbol of feudalism!

Similarly plants and other animals too don't recognize human societies' boundaries and social hierarchies. The domesticated animals - chickens, cats, cattle, goats etc. - too don't recognize them, except when they return 'home' in the evening.

Bacteria, in hordes, enter our guts when we start taking external foods, other than mother's milk, in our early childhood; they make colonies there.

Hopefully, we behold 'Nature' beyond 'greenery' of gardens, farms, woodlands, remaining forests, and wetlands; beyond Wordsworth's poems, Turner's paintings, beyond photographs / movies / videos for visual pleasure; howsoever advanced they may be, they are not alternatives to Nature,

They may help us to recall our beautiful/terrible experiences of Nature.

Life Sciences and archaeology, with their advances, also help us to know more about Nature and our place in Nature.

Perhaps we realize power and dreary aspects of Nature in cyclones, cloud bursts, earth quakes, lightening, tsunami and Climate Change (which is not fiction).

First observation of Nature

Any first hand contact with Nature at elementary and personal level is a good beginning, may it be watching self in body-and-mind; no rituals, no auspicious timings, no mantras, no special settings and sitting postures are required. Just observe with attention and compassion, as both body and mind are our tools and we are their custodians. There is no mystery; we are part of Nature just as the ‘greenery’ outside.
We can carry on this observation any time, or through out a day.

Second observation of Nature

 

Roadside Sapling in Mumbai
 In the tropical climate of India plants grow fast.

We, Indic people, believe in Five Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. The best option is to observe plants and be in contact with then.

Better still for us is to actually sow a few seeds from kitchen in a small tin / plastic / earthen pot/s (at different seasons) and help them grow. No need to refer any manuals.

Every seed may not germinate. Watch them, see them sprout, take care, feed them sunlight and water. By and by, we come in contact with Elements, together with saplings, thereby with Mother Nature.

 

 Agricultural Revolution at Nature’s Lab

 

Ten thousand years ago half naked humans domesticated wild plants and animals, and Agricultural Revolution began in a most trying natural conditions.

It did spread all over the world (without Intellectual Property Rights attached).

Civilized Society did not exist then. Rise of Civilization which is also called Urban Revolution followed Agricultural Revolution five thousand years later.

Industrial Civilization was born just a few hundred year ago, where we belong. We received our learning on the Assembly Lines in Mass Schooling System.

Isn't it a high time to get acquainted with Mother Nature – Srishti?

(12/09/2012)

Note: While writing this post I came across this blog-pot “Humans and Nature: Can the Gulf Be Bridged?”. The very title shows how the west / westernized / the urbanite etc. is divorced from nature. (Please see my comments on the post.)
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 10 September 2012

CIVILIZATION: A Smallest Poem on India


CIVILIZATION: A Smallest Poem on India, which may be true for the whole world...

Civilization, painted poem by Remigius de Souza, Mumbai

 

Civilization

  
Water droplets
White light
Miracle of spectrum
Turbans and caps
Of different hues
Misplaced identities in
The fragmented civilization
Otherwise one.
(Remigius de Souza, On Gandhi Birth Anniversary Day - 02-10-2000)

We are aware all boundaries are vulnerable to change through history of civilized societies, and even in the History of the Earth.

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Desert Soil

Cactus in the Desert

Desert Soil (Painted Poem)

Land Water — Life

At home in Konkan, a biodiversity hotspot, I had seen flowering of cacti takes place during winter.

Deserts as well as the Polar regions of extreme whether have been homeland of many peoples — Pigmy, Eskimos. They have been living in harmony with nature. Their shelters — circular mud houses or tents and igloos — have been expression of their way of life and sustenance.

I first saw a desert in Rajasthan during second year of my college studies. And I also saw Udaipur, the city of lakes built by maharajas. However the villages and villagers are most colourful and charming in Rajasthan.


'Dharmashala' is a Desi (indigenous) rest house free for travellers and pilgrims in India. It is said that Marwadis started building dharmashalas in villages, towns and at pilgrimages.

Later I saw parts of Gujarat where the visionary the late Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad built water tanks in several villages to solve their water scarcity problems.

While travelling in Gujarat several times I passed by Lothal, the Indus valley civilization site, located in ‘Bhal’ (meaning desert / forehead) region, but never stopped to visit the place. Each time I passed by a thought rang in mind: “wherever the civilization stepped it left desert behind”.

I am fond of reading Louis L'Amour about cowboy stories of Wild West that lucidly describes the deserts. Sound of desert also rings in the mind, though it might seem quiet and peaceful.

There are diverse tales of desert...! The inimitable spirit of humans!! However, Mother Nature reigns supreme!!!

I love even deserts! If I am left in a desert by destiny, learning from Mother Nature I would strive to raise an Oasis! 

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

My Lesson On a Slate

Minimalist Lifestyle


My Lesson On a Slate | Painted Poem by Remigius de Souza, Mumbai

My lesson on slate


The mighty emperor the builder
of the famous Taj Mahal the wonder
may have died many deaths in confines
of the Cell by his conscience poorer.

A white slate-pencil that I newly possessed
Dipped in turmeric paste with childish zest
I write and my slate glowed like star-studded night
I was the richest kid barefoot.

Remigius de Souza (22-08-2003)

Now that Slate has vanished from primary schools in India, what about learning to write? We are in Modern Times (Recall movie by Charlie Chaplin by that name)! Since then we missed something.
I began learning letters–numbers on slate in primary school at my native village in Konkan.
Important aspect of this learning is: 'Write a Lesson and Wipe it. And Begin Again'. This action goes on and on.

Rangoli on city pavement in Mumbai
 It is like, inscribing Rangoli – Alpana – Kolam, every morning on freshly cow-dung-washed floor in front of the entrance of an abode. Millions of Indian women go through this ritual daily, though they may be illiterate to this date. Truly, this is an ancient Land Art. It is said, they draw Cosmic Energy by this ritual art: Believe it or not.
However, I do believe, looking at their sufferings, hard work, endurance and tolerance through all adversities, injustice... created / caused by the male-dominated society and the dogmatic Agencies.


It's like, a farmer who sows and in time harvests the crop (±), and prepares for the next.
It's like, Mom or maid cooks, after feeding the family, cleans the utensils and prepares for the next meal.
It's like, a sculptor who makes idols of Ganesha, Gauri, Durga etc. year after year; the faithful worship and immerse the idols, year after year.
It's like, sing a song and it is over. Sing the same song again but it is never the same! So also it is with dance.
Kabir is illiterate, hence illiterate people (not emperors, Kabir is not patronized by State) memorize his songs, for centuries: That is minimalist.
Emperors or Power-holders build monuments in marble, or in coins, or in history books to keep their memory alive, but in vain.

In writing on a slate, we neither identify with ‘learning – unlearning’ nor ‘writing’. We don't glorify writing by making it a monument.
Where do we go from here?

(This poem was a prelude to my lecture, or rather a conversation with the students of architecture on ‘Minimalist Architecture’ in 2003 at Mumbai. I think it is better to give example rather definitions.)

Remigius de Souza
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Leisure: Learning from Squatter Children in Mumbai

 Healthy Leisure is Free of Cost


Children of the Squatters in Mumbai
REST is for the body and mind that get tired by Work. However, our internal organs – vital but invisible parts of the body – heart, brain, lings, veins etc continuously work; they can’t take rest, hence they need to remain healthy.

REST COULD COME IN SEVERAL FORMS: sleep, leisure, entertainment, satisfaction... Joy.
Persons of different ages or constitutions may sleep for more or less period of time. Children may sleep for nine to eleven hours, while old people may have five to eight hours of sleep.

Therefore, even while awake we may need rest, in form of leisure. Hence body and mind should not be used for any productive (economic) work; that’s leisure.

This period of time should be spent without any purpose, in peace, that is, not even a thought about the past or the future. Only watch, look at, be aware of the immediate present the NOW (Krishnamurti), wherever one may be, without applying likes – dislikes – dogmas – judgement.

The Third World India and the Fourth World India are rich in folk traditions: arts, crafts, dances, music, folklore are in abundance and in variety, in all regions. There take place in hundreds of fairs, feasts, festivals, pilgrimages which people attend in thousands.

Their schedules, set by traditions, are remarkable. These synchronize with their farming schedules, religious rites and rituals. The places are usually near rivers, lakes, seashores, mountains, groves, deserts… in close proximity of nature.

And the First World India is out to drag them in the market web of so-called progress and development, no matter even if they are marginalised and displaced, in the name of “common good”.
WORK, REST, HEALTH, LEARNING and PROPAGATION are the intrinsic functions of all the species, which are given by NATURE. Hence, in these functions all the living beings have autonomy bestowed upon them by NATURE.
READ More: LCM-4: Perpetual Crave for Rest

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Learning to Learn - Iconic Lesson

Learning from the Squatter Children in Mumbai

Children among Mumbai's Squatters 


'The distinction of "educated" from the "uneducated" is merely technical. It is no longer of degrees of consciousness but more or less of information.' — Anand Coomaraswamy
IN THIS ICONIC PHOTOGRAPH, the children are learning to learn from the elder school-going sister. They are initiated to learn reading and writing language... thus their learning is easier and effective. This is a natural phenomenon among other animals too.

LEARNING, as we know, indeed begins when the child is in the womb. S/he cannot see, but can listen to the sounds in the surrounding environment: mixer-grinder, washing machine, radio-TV...traffic; singing... sound of running water. She can feel mother’s emotions, and the touch and warmth of the oceanic womb.

WORK, REST, HEALTH, LEARNING and PROPAGATION are the intrinsic functions of all the species, which are given by NATURE. Hence, in these functions all the living beings have autonomy bestowed upon them by NATURE.

The living beings include all animals and plants: from bacteria to human animal, from algae to giant banyan /oak trees; there are no exceptions.

This is the Fundamental Law by Nature (call God, if you may wish). Perhaps some call it "Sahaja Dharma" – intrinsic Dharma – in Indian languages. I suppose it refers to humans, but if extended it could apply to all biotic and abiotic entities.

Since this intrinsic functional autonomy is given to the lives by NATURE, there is no other authority or power over it of any person or any man-made institution.

May they be incarnations / prophets, or religions, governments, courts of law (justice?), military, education, economics, trade and commerce etc. All these are somewhere, somehow, directly or by proxy, obliged to the powers by a few among humans. And where there is "power" there comes corruption, ownership, superiority, slavery, terror, extremity, exploitation, destruction, annihilation… brainwashing, may it be physical or mental.

These children offer an iconic lesson in learning to the experts, educationists and Agencies.

Read more: LCM-6: LEARNING TO LEARN

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sisal blooms in Mumbai City

Going beyond Face value


Sisal at road crossing, Mumbai -1


What luck! It is rare to find sisal on road crossing in Mumbai, and anywhere in the city. Some sensitive artist/ 'landscape designer' used sisal as garden plant at a 'traffic island' on road junction in a cityscape. It is neatly done without obstructing view of the moving drivers and pedestrians.

And I noticed, besides me, there were some other guys too. They were small honeybees, smaller than house flies. I was picking pictures with mobile phone, they were picking honey. (As a kid I used to suck Adulasa flowers for honey at my native village in the mornings.)

Sisal Flowers-2

Sisal is known for its tough long fibres. And villagers use it appropriately. India's biodiversity has many plants that give fibres: coconut, cotton, Ambadi (Hibiscus cannabinus kenaf), silk cotton, banana, pineapple, jute etc.

Sisal leaves give four to five feet long fibre, while branches of Ambadi are a source of 6 to 8 ft long fibres. Farmers, fishermen, adivasi make fishing nets of these fibres.

These fibres last longer than synthetic fibres. More they are used (in water) stronger they get.  On the contrary the nets, made of synthetic thread, in dry conditions, get disintegrated.

The plants in the photos are grown in the confined place.
Looking at the bloom, it is anybody's guess the plants grow on the water and manure supplied from outside.

They don't get anything from the soil – ground bellow. In short, they are dependent on others – the gardeners, garden department, budget etc. How could their growth be without any effect of this artificial environment? In the natural open condition their leaves would have grown longer than five feet.

The birds in cages, fishes in aquariums, potted plants and decorative plants along Mumbai's concrete roads and footpaths, as well as in the homes, also face the same situation.

 What then must be happening to us – the urbanite? Do our cities and housing complexes help us to grow, flower, bloom to our all-round full potential – physical, mental and conscience? Do they provide an opportunity and means of growth of human potential?

Such questions I would ask myself, and also try to find answers myself.
Funny part is: the answer does lie in these questions!
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 6 August 2012

My Enemy Within Me

My Enemy Within Me

...I still believe that people are really good at heart. Anne Frank, "Diary" (14 yrs)

My Enemy Within Me, graphic by Remigius de Souza

In the second half of 1960s I witnessed riots and their effects in parts of Gujarat - cities and villages, particularly Vadodara. During that period I wandered through street and lanes of Vadodara (Baroda).

Vadodara, then, was called 'City of Culture', and Gujarat – a peace loving state.
There were also atrocities taking place against women, low caste and tribal people.It was too much to bear.

The graphic is a collective effect of all the torments. During my travels, I had seen some relics of earlier riots; but that was out of sight!

From childhood at my village I have been moving among people of different castes/classes/creeds/communities. I was interested in their traditional crafts or vocations, and their way of life.

Their vocations had helped the people to sustain, rather than the ruling powers helped them (with exceptions) in India for about thousand years. We speak here about peasants, not elite, social etc. castes, classes and powers.

It was the saint-poets — men and women — of different castes and creeds and vocations, who gave solace and moral courage to people during this period. They were there in many regions of the country.
 

Now with wide spread industrialization, all that is changing, fast.People are loosing their self-reliance, their identity, and with that their surviving social values too.
The riots between different social identities, too, is a fall out of the economic change with its arms — industry and market. It is not limited to any region, but almost all over the country, and all over the world. The recent uprisings of commoners is an added dimension.

There is, however, no 'social rehabilitation' in sight, anywhere! Agencies think of 'Financial' rehabilitation!!  I can identify myself only with People, not dogmas,  not Agencies!

Note: The experiences haunted me for long time. Poem writing came to my help, which appears in the following poems.

1. MY ENEMY WITHIN ME
2. Maroon Veil
3. A Million Incarnations Now!

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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Narali – Coconut – Punam festival day

Narali – Coconut – Punam festival day


Koli – fisher folks – worship their boats on Coconut Day, which falls on 1st and 2nd of August this year. Koli send their boats to sea, and start fishing on this day.

During the monsoon, the Koli are busy mending their nets, making new ones,
Repair and paint their country crafts. They moor their boats on sandy shores, covered with leaves of coconut palms, and cultivate vegetables on monsoon rains.


 
They are one of the original residents of the islands of Mumbai.

The British, and the following governments, bulldozed the pristine creeks, hills and the sea, with increasing pressures of development economics.


These pressures pushed the Koli communities of Mumbai to the brink, to “THE LAND’S END”.


Whenever I recall this map, an emotional tsunami erupts, my blood boils. I'm still a Konkani village brat.

What extraordinary place this land must have been then, with creeks, hills, tropical greenery and the nesting villages with sweet water wells and lakes, before the Portuguese landed here!

They attacked Mahim Fort, won the battle, and their soldiers walks on the streets of Mahim village, killed innocent villagers just to intimidated them. On their heels came Missionaries to spread the Good News, Gospel of Love !!

All the splendor Mumbai's nature was later bulldozed by the British bunya, forever!
King is dead. Long live the king!

NOTE: While editing this post, I receive email from Nat Geo about World's Best Surf Towns with photos. A notable city is Venice with canals; it is said Venice is literally floating on sea water and is in danger of sinking. We may compare Mumbai before 1670 had it continued with same land mass for its organic growth with Venice.
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© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.