Sometimes, if you let the imagination loose, you end up reaching a few common wishes. I had a chance of discussing with a few people that what would they like to have, or what would make them feel very happy, or if you fantasize a little and list out a few things, many things will concur. Trust me, some of these wishes are common over the generations! A tiny list is:
Less money, a more satisfied heart
Lots of free time, carefree time
Books and beverages
A house with walls and floor of aquarium
A cottage in mountains
A house with lawns on all four sides
Living in a jungle, away from the crowd
A tree house
Horse riding/ owning a horse
Watching wild horses gallop
Observing a star filled night
Seeing the less seen places
Treading on clouds
Flying in any form
World tour (that covers a lot of things)
We share dreams. We share imagination. We, as children drew mountains, sun, moon, stars, cottages, cars, curvy roads and flowers on a plain piece of paper, built cushion castles, assigned comfortable tree branches as our home, we tried to fly with a cape around our neck, swim between furniture items, jumped over lava or a pond with crocodiles, defeated monsters, saw the moon and stars up close at the high point of swing... all in our imagination :) We pursue happiness, we like ticking things off our list and moving on to the next item. Shish Mahal in Lahore is an attempt to materialize this dream of treading on clouds and bringing the stars down for oneself.
A shadow of heaven, these beautiful areas are a promise that the heaven does exist, and it will be much more beautiful than this. Following are images of Upper Kachura Lake and surrounding areas, Skardu, Baltistan, Pakistan, taken in October 2014.
When the landing gear touched the runway of Skardu airport after a beautiful flight on a clear day, it was like a dream come true. There, right there, when we landed and the aircraft came to a stop, was a special moment when it was just my Lord and I... I could feel Him smiling, I could feel Him around me so close, I could feel the gentle warmth, I could feel the love with which He sculpted the area, a shadow of heaven on earth, where He gave extra beauty to the mountains, valleys and the people, inside and out... its hard to put that moment in words. All praise to the Lord!
This was one of my favorite projects in terms of renderings. The project was a commercial building. I named it "Wind Chimes" as I proposed a large wind chime dangling in the main atrium. These are images of the front elevation. I really enjoyed exploring the camera angles. These two came out the way I wanted. The softwares used were 3D Studio Max and Photoshop.
I tried to explore some waxy form, inspired by some of Gaudi's work. Not that I even came close to the level of a single volume of his designs, I still tried to liquify then freeze the form, molding it like soft clay, translating it into a glass facade, diverting from practicality, and proposing warped glass segments.
I think this camera angle gave a pretty bold look to the volumes, and an illusion of extra height.
Architecture is an index of society. We can gauge
when a society reached its pinnacle and when it declined by studying
architecture. Studying buildings, gives an in depth review of the mindset of
people of an era. It tells what is valuable for them.
For a research project, I visited Noor Jahan’s
Tomb complex frequently last year. I was required to document
the structure in photographs. While photographing, I went through a four
dimensional experience, that is hard to express in words. One prime dimension
was the architectural appreciation of the structure, of course, but that is
just a fraction of what my mind was going through.
A brief history of this old monument might be
helpful here; the tomb was constructed on orders of Mughal Queen, Noor Jahan in
her life. She died in 1645 and was buried here. The tomb was surrounded by a
beautifully manicured garden. The tomb complex, that also includes Emperor
Jahangir’s tomb, suffered at the collapse of Mughal Empire, when it was looted
by Sikh invaders. It suffered further damage when used as a residence, first
for the French officer to the Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh and later by Sultan
Muhammad Khan. Under British rule, the gardens suffered badly when a railway
track was built by cutting Noor Jahan’s tomb from the rest of the garden.
The question that irked my mind was of the
motivation behind construction of such a personalized monument. Was the public
at that time leading an ideal life? Were there no public issues to be taken
care of? Was this the only best way to spend public money? What does the
complex symbolize? Power of a single family? This bitterness in thoughts just
boils when I compare these structures to not very different structures of
today’s elite. Today’s palaces of the ruling elite can be directly traced back
to these historic monuments of personalized glory. They have a quite traceable
lineage to them and speak volumes of the ruling elites’ nonexistent
concern for public interest. We have inherited all this, and are least
concerned to change it. People of that era had left the rule in one family’s
hands, thinking that the throne was a birth right of that family. Situation is
not very different even today.
Trying to trace any public interest through
architecture of that era, we come across a very few buildings, if any, that
were directly intended for public use. We have ruins of palaces, remains of
forts, tombs and mausoleums that were constructed to glorify individuals. Even
the masjids were dedicated to the royals. Tombs and mausoleums were constructed
to lay homage and respect to the favorites of the royals only.
Now, the point is, everyone loves his or her
family, friends and pets. It is innate human nature to develop strong bonds,
fall in love, grow profound fondness, affection, gratitude and a multitude of
positive emotions. But that simply does not justify absurd amounts of public
money being invested in building monumental structures just to satisfy a single
person’s emotions, and that too by the sheer pressure of power.
Noor Jahan’s tomb was designed to create a sad
aura. The aura still prevails. These famous Persian verses have rather turned
into a curse.
me, monumental structures built by public money, to express personal glory or
grief are far shorter in stature than a mud house built by hand to settle one’s
family and give them shelter.
If the tomb crumbles today under its own weight,
let it crumble. It will not make much difference to the lives of people in
general. It never really mattered anyway. Sabotage and collapse of a
comparatively newer Zyarat Residence, far superior in importance didn’t even
spark any suitable reaction. The homeless drug addicts dwelling in and around
the dingy complex will find another shelter. In a country, where food and clean
water don’t make their way to the priority list, conservation is an alien term.
The railway line that crosses the garden, has served the public more than these
Every few weeks, we have an
unprecedented event, mind boggling and blood curdling. We are in a state of
war, no doubt about it. The reasons are so complex that we can’t put our finger
down on a specific one. Along with this, we regularly come to know of incidents
that we could never have imagined. Such absurd happenings seem to materialize
out of nowhere. The event gets full media coverage, live news feed, minute by
minute development, discussion in talk shows, anything and everything to keep
you glued to the screens. One approach, to understand these
extraordinary events, can be that as compared to the rest of the world, we are
a new television audience. We got exposure to the “free media”, including
private TV channels, only recently. This might be a reason that we are hungry
for spicy news. Subconsciously, we are craving for some unprecedented event.
Previously, we used to have only
one state run TV channel. The quality of its shows, the authenticity of the
news, ethics and professionalism were its hallmark. Then there was a private
channel, which created a healthy competition. But now, we have tens of private
TV channels that exercise their right of freedom of speech to a sickening
level. We have a greater inclination for watching news channels, because they
are churning news at a dizzying speed, quoting incidents of unprecedented
nature. Apparently, telecasting news no longer requires any authenticity and
even if it undergoes some verification before being presented, the standards
are very low. The news will just spring up on the screens in a most surprising
tone, stunning the audience at once. One channel quotes one figure, the other
has a different figure to quote about the same incident. There is a sickening
competition about breaking the worst news before other channels. This race to
break the news first reduces the time for verification, almost eliminating its
The news channels are conducting
business without any ethics. But these channels are not the only ones to be
blamed. We, as a general TV audience ask for it. We buy the spice, they sell
it! The staggering figures involved in such a business suggest that some
unprecedented event should take place on regular basis. Every few weeks, there
is a mind boggling event, more disgusting than the previous one, shocking, jaw
dropping, heart sinking; in simple words, a roller coaster of emotions. We have
some seriously sick minds controlling this “business”. If something doesn’t
happen for long, the channel ratings drop. To keep the business running, why
not create an incident and feed the hungry audience? Within minutes, stage sets
for an action packed event, eyes get glued to the screens, the airtime prices
reach record highs, money is made then matters are brought to discussion in the
so called live talk shows, more money is made. It’s true for the rumors as
well. They get so much importance without having any base.
I am not pointing at any particular event; we
have a long list of absurd happenings. These events get full media coverage,
tens of channels giving live news feed and flashing images. There are no rules
to be followed; no regulations are taken care of. There is no sense of
responsibility, ethics or discretion of content. The cameras show what needs
not to be shown to the public, the reporters use words that are least
professional and unnecessary music plays in the background, turning the whole
incident into a rehearsed play. One heart wrenching scene gets multiple
exposures from tens of cameras, one bad news gets repeated continuously for
hours. The newscasters seem to enjoy breaking the bad news to the public,
filling the gaps within their read with illogical phrases. The highs and
lows of voice and the emphasis on heart piercing words give an impression of
some cheap theater performance. And that’s actually what the news has become, a
discreditable theatrical performance.
The leading international news
channels never show the raw violence, even in their live coverage. But here,
the violent scenes break our heart, lower our morale and cause psychological
unrest and disturbance for a long time. These incidents pile up inside us,
layer after layer and cause frustration and a sense of helplessness. The day the crowd stops buying the spice, the
news channels will calm down. What happens on entertainment channels can be
paralleled to this scenario.
Usually when we think of a
landscaped garden, we think of greenery, richly colored flowers and thick
foliage. But there is an altogether different perspective of landscaping that
is otherwise. This area of landscape design is known as “Dry Landscaping”.The major elements of design in dry
landscaping are stones, carved by nature, rocks, pebbles, wood, sand and clay
with a very few plants. In some designs, plants are non-existent. It is a way
of expression in which a designer can tell the tales of beauty, freeze the
running water and display naturally crafted sculptures.Frozen waterfalls,
stationary streams and static winds… it’s a story of your choice in designers’
The chief element of design for a
dry landscape is stone. Stone, usually in its natural form gives a rustic look
to the scene and creates a dramatic aura. Hand crafted stones usually don’t
find place in such designs, but when they do, they are complimented either with
a water feature or by plants.
The origins of dry landscaping
can be traced back to Japanese tea gardens and monasteries. These were designed
to be viewed from the windows at a height. The aim of these gardens was to
create a feeling of solitude, serenity and detachment from the outside world.
The pathways to these gardens were quiet and led to the main area in a way that
the eye wouldn’t steal any stray glance.These gardens were designed for
meditation, to discover the inner self and to enlighten oneself. The tea houses
were designed to ward off drowsiness that might occur while meditating.The
gravel in these gardens was raked daily by the monks to give an illusion of
waves and whirlpools of water. But today,
this particular way of expression has taken care of many practical aspects. It
is probably a better choice in comparison to a grassy lawn. It demands less
time to maintain and has a less demand for water.
Most of us are pressed
against time to take care of the lavish green gardens. Dry gardens maintain
themselves, and wild moss, if appears, gives yet another dimension to the
scenery. These landscaped gardens are easy to maintain.
Water is a very precious
resource. It must be used wisely. Dry gardens are water efficient and “green”
in ecological terms. The floor of the garden, in most cases, is covered by
pebbles or coarse aggregate. A playful arrangement of colors and levels can
form a very beautiful depiction of a calm stream frozen in time, without the
need of actual water.
Miniature plants, used to dot the
scene need very little water. Mulch adds more color to the landscape. Natural
or dyed mulch, both are used to retain moisture in the soil.
A variety of materials for the
pathways, not only adds color to the garden, but also gives a rich tactile
texture. Stone lanterns, clay crafts and garden lights, all assimilate to give
a picture perfect dry garden.
A rich design in terms of
elements, colors, textures, views and vistas changes the concept of traditional
landscaping altogether. Life is noisy. Get a niche of your house designed for
peace and serenity!
Observing geometry becomes a second nature of an architect. Here, the nature has exhibited the beautiful Fibonacci series with the layout of stamens in a sunflower. A few days later, all of these diamond shaped stamens bloomed into yet another layer of tiny flower heads. These tiny star head anthers contain the matter for pollination, also known as "zar gul" in Urdu language translated as "flower's treasure".
Working at a proposed project site, I was quite occupied mentally. Then I just happened to look up at the bright blue sky, with puffy white carefree clouds and I could tell that something inside us always urges us to break free and float aimlessly with no specific destination in mind!
The sun was rising beautifully one April morning. This image is just a tiny fraction of the play of colors that was happening right in front of my eyes. Capturing the moment from my cell phone, only I can tell how much I missed my SLR.
Going through my mail and posts shared by friends, I came across this letter that I think is worth sharing. I feel guilty of not reading any of Gabriel Garcia's work up till now. This excerpt seems like summarizing a lot of work. :)
RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.
I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say.
I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.
I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every
minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.
I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.
If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a
simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not
only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.
To all men, I would
say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in
love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they
stop falling in love.
I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.
To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.
I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody
wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true
happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach
the top of the hill.
I have learned that when a newborn baby
holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for
the rest of his life.
I have learned that a man has the right
and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs
help to get up from the ground.
Say always what you feel, not
what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that I am
going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I
would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.
If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”
There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do
things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to
me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never
Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or
old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why
you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure
you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a
hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.
Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their
faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them
well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,”
“thank you,” and all those loving words you know.
Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them.
Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.
Send this letter to those you love. If you don’t do it today…tomorrow
will be like yesterday, and if you never do it, it doesn’t matter
either, the moment to do it is now.