Sterile Neighbourhoods

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While walking around with some friends in Dona Paula, our discussion veered to its architecture. We started comparing buildings, appreciating some but more often bemoaned the fact that for the most part they were loud, gaudy, and, at times, completely out of scale. Most of the buildings in Dona Paula are large single-family bungalows, with high compound walls and even bigger gates, intended to symbolize the wealth of the patron within. While one bungalow was trying to impress with over sized column and pediment, the other went overboard with decorative railings and ugly pergolas. As we moved along, we came across a series of contemporary row-houses marked by sleek lines of horizontal and vertical planes. For a change, my companions approved of the work. I remained skeptical,also evasive about the reason for my continued criticism. Nevertheless, I had a feeling that,given the context, my own work as an architect would not have been very different. Why then was I critical of the wealthy neighborhood of Dona Paula?  Why did I find it sanitized, even sterile?



“Yoga is for lazy people.”

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So declared Karnataka Social Welfare Minister H. Anjaneya (Indian Express, 18 June 2015) on the eve of Modi’s Yoga Day bash. Yoga was for people who are into lavish lifestyles and are otherwise lazy, the minister explained, adding that farmers, labourers and others who work hard do not need to worry about their health and remain physically and mentally fit. Children, he declared, should be encouraged to take up sports instead of yoga.