Thursday, 11 December 2014

International Mountain Day

Deeran Peak aglow on the left of the image, Rakaposhi on the right :)
Karimabad, Hunza, Pakistan.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Some Common Wishes

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
  • Diving/ Swimming
  • 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.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Few Images of Skardu, Pakistan :)

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.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Skardu Airpot, Baltistan, Pakistan, 18th 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!


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Student Life Renderings

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.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Let It Crumble...

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.

Restored Elevation
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.

Main Entrance

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.

Roof Top
 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.

For 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 tombs.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

15 qualities of exceptional entrepreneurs, by Jeff Haden

These qualities need to be embedded in the mind... in the sub-conscious. Rendering services in your area of expertise sometimes makes you stand in front of blockades. There always a way around.


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 scope. 

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.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Dry Landscaping

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’ words.
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!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

First Attempt- from Close-up to Macro Photography

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".

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Exploring the Project Site :)

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!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Sunrise along GT Road

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.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Best airports in the world!


These look like the most intricate and fully operating sculptures :) Blinking windows, breathing walls and dynamic forms... its all there!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Persuit of Happiness, may be...

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

Farewell Letter

"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 forget you.

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.

For you, with much love,

Your Friend,

Gabriel Garcia Marquez"