Sunday, November 21, 2010

`A Place in the Sun' by Charles Correa

Recently I saw a book review of `A Place in the Sun' which is a collection of essays, lectures and the like by Charles Correa, brought out by Penguin India. I found a copy in our friendly neighbourhood lending library and borrowed it. It is a must read. I am amazed at his knowledge of history, geography and politics and his forthrightness which all shine brightly at the reader. There are so many things that I read here that I never knew about. He talks about the temple at Modhera near Ahmedabad which I had scarcely heard of. Also impressive is his compassion for the poor and the needy, for the homeless and the destitute, his breathtaking sweep of architecture across cultures, what goes into designing a building. Also of interest are his views on Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Corbusier and other personalities. Fabulous reading!

Let me regale you with some quotations:

1) The dedication `To the Eklavya in each of us'. (What a marvellous dedication!)

2) On page 91, from `Zero'


I am in a plane flying to the US for this lecture. Everything seems so American -- the way people look, the way they talk, their gestures, their dress, even the colour of their hair: blond, red, brown blue...It's all so different from India. It's clear to me that I'm at the opposite end of the world. And I wonder: How can these people ever begin to understand a country like India? Or vice versa?

And then suddenly a baby cries. And astonishingly, all the differences fall away -- it sounds just like an Indian child! Perhaps within each of us, there's a Volume Zero struggling to get out?

3) From `Great City, terrible place'

CODA: If you drop a frog into a saucepan of very hot water, it will desperately try to hop out. But if you place a frog in tepid water and then gradually, very very gradually, raise the temperature, the frog will swim around happily, adjusting to the increasingly dangerous conditions. In fact, just before the end, just before the frog cooks to death, when the water is exceedingly hot, the frog relaxes, and a state of euphoria sets in (like those hot-tub baths in California). Maybe that’s what is happening to us in Bombay, as everyday we find it getting to be more and more of a great city…and a terrible place.

(This could easily be a metaphor for our entire country and not just Bombay! In any case, you will find a long excerpt from LiveMint here.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

19th Kumari L. A. Meera Memorial Lecture

The 19th Kumari L. A. Meera Memorial Lecture will be given on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 6 pm at the Indian Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi, Bangalore, by Prof. Rajaram Nityananda of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Pune entitled "The Graver Side of Light". The trust web-site is here.

Abstract: Light has illuminated our understanding of space, time, and gravitation via Einstein’s special and general relativity. . The focus of this lecture is the interplay between gravity and light - redshifts, gravitational lenses, and black holes are already a standard part of how astronomers observe and model the universe, and more is to come. . .