notes, quotes, provocations and other fair use
nqpaofu.com by jouke kleerebezem
[6-15 December 2003] Bangalore-Kovalam, India to be continued, working my way back in time, adding at the bottom, including URLs for your convenience, so check again, /nqpaofu79.html being all India and Doors East and fresh karma and local color
The owner of the Sea View restaurant on Kerala's Kovalam north beach talks to two French speaking guests, the only two apart from myself who are eating here tonight. The north beach is the Indian beach of the two, Light House Beach being the international one, with many lights and sounds and bars that are named Beatles, or Velvet Dawn, posting hand painted URLs and email addresses. Sea View is simply true to its name. The former parental house and birth place of its owner faces west, faces sunsets, viewing the beach, viewing Indian families who stand in the water, hands on their backs or holding hands long after the sun has set. The other guests are not French but presumably a German and a Belgian woman whose shared language is French. They've just seen a rat on the meanwhile dimly lit stretch of beach right in front of us and warn the owner. He doesn't seem to care too much. Whether he is not afraid of rats, then? Why be afraid of a creature which is born into a different life than you are? I agree. Not only have I been born into this life... it brought me here to this corner of the beach at this corner of the world where rats visit in their lives and three lobsters end the lives they are born into in garlic butter to serve me a very tasteful experience. Sea View is a cross road of lives. When the girls have left the owner sits down at my table and we talk about life in Kovalam, the tourist industry, how to be friends. He's not too talkative, we smoke a cigarette, Will's Navy Cut. He introduces me to my next morning's driver, Krishna who at 7am. will pick me up at the Raja Hotel and take me to the harbour to see the fishing boats return.
I imagine investing some money in the Sea View. Repainting it a bit here and there, some improvements in the kitchen equipment, basically leaving it like it is however, fixing the toilet. It doesn't need much more, for it to continue selecting its audience on the basis of their interest in a simple calm outdoors, good basic sea food, a cigarette when the power is cut and you'd start smoking simply to have that little red light in front of you and some smoke over the candle when you exhale.
The Indian experience includes the ever cheerful even hilarious reintroduction to higher chaos, to large numbers and ubiquitous activity, hands at work all around all the time, doing the kind of hand skills. It's the reintroduction to markets we find hard to understand. Then, we are not born into these kind of markets, really, we are just visiting this 01 billion people subcontinent to marvel at its rich organization.
At Trivandrum airport the next day I buy Painted words; an anthology of tribal literature by G. N. Devy, and The Ayurvedic cookbook, by Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai. At some places where I did not reach after the massage I feel still slippery and I think I spread a strong smell of ayurvedic medical oil when I check in. One sunset, some fruit, three lobsters, one sunrise, one visit to the harbour and one massage later, 22 hours after I arrived from Bangalore, I take off again, leaving the Sea View, leaving the sea and the view below. On my way out behind the beach on one of the elevated concrete paths in the coco labyrinth I hit on the display of small paper packages with vegetable and flower seeds, beautifully illustrated. I buy 20 and get two for free, to hand out to my neighbours in the Beuvron valley. See what will grow there. Via Maastricht I will head home.
After some hours delay on the Goa air strip where the eight of us can leave the plane but are not allowed to move away from it, being held up because of unpaid Holland International landing rights, in whose place Dutch Bird flies us over, HI being at the verge of their third financial disaster in 4 years, I ring at Joke's Amsterdam door at 3am on a chilly Monday morning. She hasn't slept yet so we sit down and drink tea. Finding home away from home I feel comfortable and quickly decompress. We compare notes on her work in Vienna, the book, on my trip. I decide to spend the Monday in her house and shop for dinner while she has to attend some meetings. I'll continue my trip the next morning early. Later when Maarten and Maarten arrive for the dinner Joke cooks us, I give her the transparent silk shawl which I bought in Bangalore, for her birthday last September. It looks great on her. Wednesday in Bangalore was for shopping, after breakfast at Koshy's restaurant, guided by Jogi Panghaal who takes our small group around from the Ghandi Bazaar street market where we buy the stamped palm leave throw away plates and cups we have been using all week at the conference, to the very upmarket recently opened Atmosphere and Cinnamon boutiques, where I buy these incredible fabric items, with Debra Solomon. We share a taste, we find, for shopping with these kind of purchases providing necessary feedback not tempering the excitement over so much shameless beauty.
Atmosphere's designer is Jayshri Poddar, the gallery's manager is Shaista Asghar. They sell special designed upholstery and home decoration woven fabric, silk-linen mixtures, which is developed exclusively for the local market and produced in a plant near Bangalore. Otherwise they cater to some major decorating brands in the West. Forgot what they are. The current collection is high tech weaving technique meets traditional florid patterns in daring color schemes. The transparent detailed branches and leaves pattern has psychedelic moiré. For my other purchase I'm curious to see how the large yellow-and-silver-on-yellow flowers will fit in with the 1970s stock wall paper that we ordered at Design for Delight recently. Will our dining room be bright to the eyes!
Doors East 2 consists of two days of workshops and two days of conference. My memory mined list of most interesting people 48 hours after the event contains the following new to me names, in random order: Garrick Jones, Indri Tulusan, Vicrant Pradhan, Arun M, Valentina Nisi, Sridhar Dhulipala, Ezio Manzini, Jussi Ängeslevä, Abhishek Hazra, one professor from NID I talk with at the Spinn party, one guy from Sun Microsystems who interrogates me on privacy issues, Carolyn Strauss, Jac Fennell, Sean Blair. I might miss out on one or two, but these people have left the more remarkable impressions. I will link to some of their work below.
My own presentation is scheduled on day two, at 11:10. I write it basically from scratch at room 301 of the Richmond Hotel.
The Good the Bad andthe Humble is triggered when the latter word keeps popping up, imposing itself even after my talk, in the ManagementNext December 2003 issue which I find in the room, quoting Indian management guru C. K. Prahalad:
Everybody can see abject poverty. It takes an entrepreneur with a passion, lots of courage, lot of humanity and lots of humility to see the opportunity.
In India alone, coming from an Indian, such observation is not cynical. Sharing an auto-rickshaw I have a conversation with Ezio Manzini on this phenomenon that us people from the West are again and again baffled by: while our modern ideologies would strive to elevate the whole of India's populace to some egalitarian level of well-being and comfort, their even most progressive and emancipatory thinkers accept a basic inequality, some people being born into different lives than others? Then there is the number count: what is a one billion market like? What does it mean to find solutions for one billion souls? How to, and what if you get a dynamic going in such a body of people? Where will it move? Interaction in large numbers of people are not easily orchestrated. We from the West have a hard time to count with that. India simply must. It is born into this kind of life as a state, as a subcontinent. It takes India to see the opportunity.
The quality of Doors East is that it brings together contrasting material in exchange. The first event in Ahmedabad 2000 was quite different, a more campus size event at the National Institute for Design NID, this was a fully equipped Doors 2 day conference, for some 200-250 people, from all over the world, like 60/30% Indian/European and 10% from elsewhere. Two days of workshop went before the conference, with some of the speakers and audience at the NIFT, the National Institute of Fashion Technology. Here we had the opportunity to see and discuss 19 projects by researchers from e.g. the Royal College of Art in London, IVREA, Media Lab Dublin, NID, Center for Knowledge Societies Bangalore, and by individuals from East and West.
Mobility, geography, access were Doors East keywords. My prime interest in expanded or pervasive publishing, the networked woodwork, site specific data, or in how not only we gain our desktop (Bill Buxton, Doors 1, 1993: I want my desktop back!...) but much of the rest of our physical environment back, is only partly met.
Private miniaturization wins public space.
to be continued
Birds (white, storkish?) are hauled in with the fish, sitting on the net's floats. Before even the whole net is landed on the beach, they're gone, leaving it to the black birds (crow?) to wait for the bait.
I unpack the conference's folder. If you don't do this within a week the collection of bits of paper, notes, business cards, newspaper clippings &tc. simply fades.
to be continued
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nqpaofu.com 1998-2003 jouke kleerebezem Notes Quotes Provocations and Other Fair Use