1. What am I?
I am a wanderer.
I travel a lot. My travel is less into places but more into people’s lives and their perception of
the world around them. I travel to places to reflect upon the aspirations that get reflected in
the built form. I make an attempt to look at the mind and its thought and aspiration that built
the abode. I visualise the kind of conversation that might have taken place between him and
the designer or designer cum constructor or the constructor.
I also wander into the world of thoughts. This wandering is mostly into three areas of the
world. One is the human habitat. The other one is teaching. The third one is into the
mechanism of the world itself. Not necessarily in the same order. In the initial forays the three
were independent areas nestling in water tight compartments. As the frequency of
wanderings increased, horizons of individual entities got stretched and started merging into
each other with occasional emergence of convergence among them.
World of Human habitat:
The conflict between the socialist philosophy imbibed during childhood having been fed by the
Russian literature and the stories of the independence struggle and the effluent world that the
profession of Architecture depends upon, led my wanderings into the world of built
environment with a hope to resolve the conflict. The other factor that necessitated these
wanderings was the contrast between the romantic rural setting that I have been familiar with
and the harsh realities of the urban life. It was as if I had to undo everything that life gave me
till then and start all over again with the very little technical knowledge that I learned in college
and with the practical knowledge acquired working with architects.
Wanderings into that world were fruitful and painful too, fruitful because I went on improving
the technical aspects of building science and painful because I have never been successful in
fulfilling the dreams of the clients – that of implanting his status in his building and painful
because of the irrationality that is the hallmark of the building regulations which came in the
way of building technically sound buildings. Because these regulations have never been the
result of extensive study of the needs of the society which they are meant to benefit and
serve, there has been a constant conflict between the intent to maintain integrity and the
pressures of the reality.
These two painful aspects of life led me into Teaching and City Planning. I understood that if I find
something irrational it is up to me to correct it and it doesn’t help the world and me in any way to
simply remain a critic.
Foray into the world of Teaching:
Even though motivation to teach was born long back I waited till the time when I can teach
without having to depend upon it for living. The reason being I want to teach on my own
terms- not to prevail upon the academic environment but to experiment. My daughter too went
through the same pain. I have seen that pain with many students. I noticed that the direction
is missing. Students are simply going through the motions of academic schedule.
For that matter I noticed that the academic institutions too are going through the motions of
admissions and dispatches of half-baked products into the world which is resulting in low
levels of respect to the profession. We have a situation where both the profession and the
professionals are going through the motions of building whatever is asked to be built.
2. When I made a survey of where the architects are engaged in, it is found that less than 30%
are engaged in the design activity with the rest spread over many areas of the building
construction which comprises of services, planning and management, manufacturing,
developing properties, facility management, graphics, gaming, conservation, city planning,
transport engineering, software development and application, teaching and so on. When I
conducted workshops for students to elicit their interest the results are similar.
All these different components of a building construction of which design is one, require
different skills and there is scope for creativity in each of them. I have begun work on this area
and devised a method of learning by which the student is able to identify the area of his
strength. This has become possible by redesigning the evaluation method in which the
student is given the choice of weightage to each of the five or six components that design
work is split into. Objective of this methodology is to encourage the students to first identify
and then sharpen the inherent skills.
After watching the success of this method I am now working on extending this method to
schools as well particularly schools where students from socially and economically poor
backgrounds study. While teaching students of Architecture I have observed that some of the
students – nearly half of them- lack communication skills and aren’t comfortable in English.
Even though I am bridging the gap between them and others by conducting internal exams to
groups of students so that transfer of knowledge takes places the situation would have been
much better if the issue had been addressed at school level itself. The questions can be
answered by group discussion only and the answers can be given while looking into the mind
maps they have prepared of the syllabus.
To come up with a methodology meant for school students I have taught 5th and 6th graders in two
schools for five days each. It is working well. I intend to formalise this method among schools run by
local body with the help of social workers and philanthropists.
I have begun my journey into this world in 1984 when I first initiated a workshop among
Architects of the state to discuss the changes required in the building regulations. Since then I
continued the work. Time and again I have made a point to respond to every new proposal to
change the regulations or when Master Plans were being prepared.
This work gave me the opportunity to be external guide to the thesis work of a Post Graduate
student of Environmental Design of JNTU Hyderabad. She was awarded gold medal for her
work. The topic of the thesis is rejuvenation of Nala – storm water drain. One kilometre stretch
each of two nalas was identified as case study. By the end of the thesis work we discovered
the potential that the city has in building a healthy city if only these storm water drains have
been protected and be made part of the city fabric.
We continued the work. We have collected the data of the nalas, tanks and lakes existing in
1929. To our surprise the quantum was huge and Visakhapatnam would have remained a
walkable blue and green city if only those water bodies have been preserved. At the moment
Visakhapatnam has only about 17 lakh population and one day it will reach 50 lakhs and one
crore even. Since it needs much more area to accommodate we still have a chance of
preserving the water bodies that would become part of the city.
We are presenting the idea to local authorities and citizens repeatedly on different occasions
and platforms to sell the idea. We have developed a template that can be applied for any city.
We want to take it to the logical end. We are getting support from like -minded citizens.
Hopefully we will be able to get this format become part of master plan of the city.
3. Mechanism of the world:
As a student I was influenced by the works and philosophy of Le Corbusier who said that
“Man builds its city so that the city builds its citzens”. Being a novice I dreamt of transforming
the world with the help of Architecture. Slowly it dawned on me that Architecture is an act of
man and not the other way. It didn’t dawn on me so easily. I had to dig into every aspect of
this universe to understand the mechanism of it in which we the humans are a small
It also dawned on me that the world changes when humanity wills it to change. For the
collective to will for the change the idea of the need for the change has to spread across and
for the spread to happen the ideas and thoughts have to be shared. I made a practice of
sharing my thoughts through mails, on institutional platforms, among friends and through
media. Now I can do it through the youth. Being a teacher gives me that opportunity.
I am going a step ahead by being part of a platform being built by a philanthropist where he dreams to
build a team of young volunteers who have the zeal to serve but lack direction, socially conscious
people who want to serve but need volunteers and professionals whose contribution would place the
efforts firmly on the ground.
What else am I?
I am what I am because of the many that shared their thoughts in person, as teachers, as
guides and through their writings and movies. Hermann Hesse’s book Narcissus and
Goldmund remains the eternal guide. “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Oh! God” are the ones
whose fragrance I am always surrounded with.
“I have a dream to sow the seeds
in a world that is full of kids
Where everyone wanders to wonder
at everything that lies in the yonder.
I have a dream to build a world
Where every form of life is adored
For its role in rendering canvas of life
A painting of multi coloured and hued.”
Thoughts and deeds of a person are the true testimonials of a person. Even though I have remained a
wanderer I did accumulate mass of thoughts gathered here and there. They are getting consolidated
into solutions to some of the issues which issues tossed up those thoughts. Attached are some of
them that I keep sharing with everyone that I know with a fond hope that they take them forward to
address the issues that continuously crop up. I know that there is no permanent solution. If that were
to be true the world would have stopped its spin long back. Thankfully it is not so.