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Symbiotic City

This is a view from my apartment of NYC at night with the half moon in all its glory.


Currently I am reading a book called Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino :
There is a chapter Cities and Memories. Paraphrasing from that - It describes what a city really is :
"I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs: but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past : the height of a lamppost and the distance from the ground of a hanged usurpers swaying feet: the line strung from the lamppost to the railing opposite and the festoons that decorate the course of the queen's nuptial procession; the height of the railing and the leap of the adulterer who climbed over it at dawn...."


Like in any great city or town, its identity is not only its physical structure but the very people residing there, their dreams, aspirations and fears which ultimately dictate the outcome of how they perceive their home to be.


I write this because in the past few weeks, there have been lots of blogs that mentioned about why many people did not like Slumdog Millionaire - as it is based on marketing of the poverty of Bombay or India per se. But that is the most visually tangible aspect of our country where inspite of these great economic divide - each of us is allowed to dream to make it big in our own little way - it is the celebration of this co-existence and freedom that shapes the very spirit of the city of Bombay that is brilliantly captured in the movie.


I understand that many people feel that the West markets the poor -
there are two reasons -
one they have plenty here in terms of material wealth but there is a dearth of communal feeling here - its each for his own
and secondly they are unbiased and this allows them to be bold and show it as IS rather than put a glossy make up or shy away from reality.


Another book the dwells into this subject brilliantly is -
Shantaram - by Gregory David Roberts - it elucidates the experience of coexistence and how the city makes a person and in turn these collective groups of persons define the very nature of its existence. I
It is a symbiotic realm of mutual give and take.


Another picture Midtown Manhattan taken from a park on the cliff in West New York, New Jersey. Sitting in this park its fascinating to see the accomplisment of this urban jungle.

62 comments:

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Lovely captures!

Slumdog is a brilliant movie indeed,it did not land so many Oscar nominations for no reason.

Suma said...

for some reason can't see any pictures...will come back later...must be a blogger thing...:)

Compassion Unlimitted said...

// rather than put a glossy make up or shy away from reality.//

How true..hiding reality & shying away from it is putting wool on our own eyes..

Ceedy, can I have your mail id ? I may need suggestion & help on a conference in Chicago,if its ok with you

TC
CU

Prats said...

**The city does not consist of this but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past **

And how I wish the space reflected the strings of emotions in a more stark clarity.

We are progressing and hopefully the lines will get more straighter as they go.
Loved the parallels you've drawn.

--xh-- said...

nice frames...
and some good food for thought...

Aaarti said...

Invisible cities sounds very interesting- shall try picking it up!!!

What you've said is very true- the personality of a town is based on the people living there...

Lovely pictures!!:)

brocasarea said...

i loved the movie too...he has just shown the other side of the coin...:)

Still thinking said...

You know something? I've read so many reviews on Slumdog, some angered, some overtly effusive, but the way you wrote it, it made so much sense and just the way I think about it.

Can you write something about the city of Dubai someday? :)

Ria said...

Jus love those pics. :) I really liked the way the reality was portrayed Slumdog Millionaire. :)

Towards reclamation said...

ummm .. i wasnt so impressed by the movie ... i dnt hv anything against it .. nor do i dislike wht they hv shown .. infact it was refreshing .. but yeah the oscar nominations and various other awards it won did surprise me
but then thts my taste .. :)

Princess Mia said...

nice shots ......
i havent seen the movie yet

ceedy said...

@sameera

Thank you...and you are right....waiting for Oscars...

ceedy said...

@suma

Hope you get back to see em

ceedy said...

@cu

Yes...Truth hurts and makes us uncomfortable so many avoid it al together

ceedy said...

@prats

It does reflect if you just stand as a silent observer. The space does have a weird energy that you can encompass.

Yes I hope so too.

Thank you

ceedy said...

@xh

Thanks....

ceedy said...

@aaarti

It is an interesting book and was a staple for architectural schools and criticism.

Thanks

ceedy said...

@brocasarea

Cool....is this message from your phone?

ceedy said...

@ still thinking

Glad you liked it. Urban design is my major and interest so I put my heart to this.

Definately can write about Dubai. Tell me what you want to read about it.

I wish to visit it soon to see the flamboyant architecture happening there

ceedy said...

@ria

Thanks....and glad you are one who liked the movie

ceedy said...

@towards reclamation

Well you are right....we all have freedom of choice so I respect what you felt.

This post was mainly to touch the fact that dont shun a creative effort just because of a personal bias....

ceedy said...

@princess mia

Thank you....hope you do watch it....

Abhishek Khanna said...

i mus say, awesome pics!

n yeah i too din like slumdog coz it projects india as slums and indians as slumdogs.. phew

joiedevivre said...

sulmdog in my opinion is a reality..a fact..
and my shantaram is still pending
:( havent read yaar

Arunima said...

hey i liked d 1st pic!
gr8 dat u get 2 see such beautiful view 4m ur window!

Hiren said...

nice shots buddy ... liked the second one more ...

and yea I shall beat you to the end of shantaram :)

Pavi!!!! said...

Nice post Ceedy.. I reallie how u xplained the slumdong movie.

Also..yes it is people that initially matter...n as time passes by..people make the city wat it is as much as city makes the people wat they are!

I was reading thru some of the comments n i came across the comment asking u to write abt dubai.. here is wat i feel..
PLS CORRECT ME IF U THINK I'M WRONG.
this post makes so much sense 'coz mumbai n NYC is v.close to ur heart.i think u FELT for wat u wrote and it wasnt simply a showcase of pics or writing talent.
..thats why the same magic may not be created with dubai.

~ ॐ ~ said...

the view of the city is gorgeous !!! very very nice colors and composition.. I am not too sure about the large watermark though !

KP said...

nice snap:). SDM has shown true slums of india...i hope it wins oscars...its the only way our politicians will see the slums of india...hopefully they`ll be less corrupted and put the money in the right place and fix the slum:)!

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

why every NRI is appreciating the movie... ?

is it because they caught a glimpse of India they wanna see afta a long with some reality entertainment ?
or

they have turned towards western thinking that such movie are gonna make us feel ashamed of us and we gonna bring radical changes ??

these questions amaze me sumtimes ... :)

ceedy said...

@abhishek

Thanks...but I never said I did not like the movie!

ceedy said...

@joie

yup...reality sometimes is too harsh to grapple....

and do read shantaram when you have shanti and aaram to read it...cause it long :P

ceedy said...

@arunima

thanks...

ceedy said...

@hiren

thanks....and we will see about shantaram....;)

ceedy said...

@pavi

Thanks...for the heartfelt appreciation of the writing :)

And you are not wrong....when you say that the same magic wont appear when I write about Dubai as I have not lived there....

but writing about urban issues and designs is my so called "expertise" (even tho I am not working in the field as of now) so I think I can write something that will be interesting at least....

but it will be much better if I was there and have had the first hand experience of the space and its correlation....

ceedy said...

@daydreamer

I was ready for this ;)

Ok first off as I said...I appreciate your opinion....cause you have a certain way to look at things and understand it and so do I.

That itself is the very thing that I think India has inculcated in all of us....in spite of all the differences, anger, whatever is around we are still a very tolerant lot....those are the values I guess most of us not being in the country do miss....

i dont want to argue with you...but what you are perceiving is the physical reality of poverty and your statement is based on that...I am more perceiving the spirit of the reality....and its existence...that is so wonderful....

When I say bias...this is what I mean...you or even me will not be able to perceive this as clearly as someone who has never experienced it...for us it is there and always will be there....

and this movie where does it talk about radical changes or about being ashamed of poverty...it is in fact a celebration of free spirit of thought and dreams...so that statement of yours I find is kinda baseless....

Vandita said...

I think Slumdog was a really well made movie and i don't agree with people who say that it only portrays poverty etc coz even if it does the movie had a bigger story and also those things exist so why cant they be captured.

ceedy said...

@om

Thanks bud...I still have the original with me...and I never watermark pictures...so will take care next time

ceedy said...

@kp

Yeah so true...and dont you wish we cld vote for the oscars...then there will be no doubt that it wins hands down :)

ceedy said...

@vandita

Thanks for digging deep into the trenches and reading the past posts...appreciate it...

and I agree with you...why focus on only one aspect of the movie...

thanks

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

Poverty is reality bhaiya..if we don't have poor people we don't have labours and u must know this better than anyone as ur an architect...think who will implement ur designs if they are not there....so I guess people are just highlighting what India is not all about...and such a film with such a publicity just give a opinion to others who havn't seen the real India... that India is all about poverty and cussing and call centers...

since bhaiya ..u r not going to argue and I wud like to add that I did find the movie enjoying but they cud had used any fictional land for the entertainment...and I agree with ur points 100 percent and may be the last ques was baseless.... but it was based on what western media are projecting abt us.....


and

jus a last ques... if u r not that much annoyed to answer...

don't you think that showing poverty especially in India was to attract the 1 billion Indian audiences to make money...so why it shudn't be called a poverty porn...... coz main motto was to make money ??

ceedy said...

@daydreamer

Arent we all making money on the poor....do we give equal right and compensation to our the people who make our lives easy?

First the movie is based on a book that was written by an Indian...I havent read it - so dont know if the book is based on Bombay....but you have a point there.....

Lastly just off the subject...if you get a chance see the movie City of God which is based again on a novel - its about the favelas of Rio - slums bigger and deadlier than Bombay...

We also got a glimpse of this same favelas in a demure manner in the recent IronMan movie...

let me know if you happen to watch City of God

Satish Bolla said...

ahah, here comes something interesting frm an architect. bhai, frankly speaking, i had to read this post again n again to understand it... :(

Suma said...

the pics are awesome, and humbling too in a way...

btw read this?

http://www.newsweek.com/id/185798

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

city of god...
yeah last year I watched it and I kno that truth...
leave city of god.... every damn film producers are making mony by showing the slaughtering of african people...and how their country ae being a savior.. so I guess slumdog dint do that much crime...

but I didn't liked the way the movie publicised the Indian poverty ...may be ek kahwat hai na
sachai kadwai hoti hai...nmay be I m victim of that...

joiedevivre said...

hehe yeah i kno
have been avoiding it from long time
:P

The Seeker said...

First book that I read of calvinos. Loved that!!!

SHantaram! got that with me, Havent tried yet!!!

ceedy said...

@satish

Did you get it finally or no?

I dont write anything like this here - on architecture cause it becomes to specific....but this one I had to write cause I got like three four different things that happened to gether....

ceedy said...

@suma

Thanks...

and thanks for the link - that was an interesting artical....so true right...they exist because they are allowed to exist...

but there is another side to this...near my house in bombay...these slum dwellers were given an apartment in low cost housing....what these guys did - sold them in open market and moved back to slums - waiting for another scheme to make them legalised....

ceedy said...

@daydreamer

I know sach kadva hota hai...par inke beech kabhi time guzara hai?

They are much more contended with life than we are....its a bit bizzare but they seem to make most of what they have.....many of them....(obviously there are criminals there but....such is life)

ceedy said...

@joie

Ok...then time to see it :)

ceedy said...

@The seeker

Kewl....Shantaram will make Slumdog really pale...its much more descriptive and detailed...

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

main hoon linked a ek NGO se ..bich bich mein I do take free classes...and went to few drought related camps too...

bhaiya contentedness aa jat hai life mein jab aapke pass option kam ho and jo ho usko carry forward karne ka power na ho....it is kindda physiological property of human beings....but if they are given option they will defn move forward...

иidhi S said...

People with such opinions for Slum-dog, have actually not understood it, and neither do they want to even try except creating controversies.
The success of Slum-Dog, is not just the Poverty, but to the theme to believe in your dreams, amazing screenplay, brilliant acting, Fabulous music.

ceedy said...

@daydreamer

I think you are right about the second part...anyways....movie wallon ne paise bana liye...jisko jo karna tha kar liya---hum be matlab...pyar se baat karne lage :P

ceedy said...

@nidhi

You are right...the movie or for that matter any creative process should not be analyzed at a face value alone...thanks

Cosmic Joy said...

I have not yet seen the movie. But as a native bombayite, I can say that whatever is said about Bombay, it is all probably true. Bombay has it all!

Cosmic Joy said...

I have not yet seen the movie. But as a native bombayite, I can say that whatever is said about Bombay, it is all probably true. Bombay has it all!

ceedy said...

@cosmic

Ok..do watch the movie if you can...you might have mixed reactions...

about Bombay...yes..its like any big metropolitan city...it has it all..

divya said...

so well said..ny leaves me thinking..its pace gives me the energy to accomplish and its beauty makes me rejoice every time i see the skyline ..i say "i love this city" but not just because its ny but because the moments its given me and wht its taken to discover this world!!

ceedy said...

@divya

Very interesting view there and I so agree. Its not the name alone of a place that entices us - it is the entire spirit and energy that it exudes...

Preethi said...

You being an architect might find it natural to admire the physical form right? the first para must've been special for you i suppose....
It is very true.... the city is almost like a person... and anything, be it a book or a movie that manages to capture this is to be appreciated..