Asks what adults call silly questions,
Like when we were younger and I would say but why mama?
It was like a game that led us both deeper and deeper into mysterious wells
We didn’t have the answers
And the Fiddler
Ah the fiddler on the rooftop
Why does he play so fine?
He hears the sound of eternity
And there with his fiddle he fiddles through notes and notes and song and sadness. He makes me cry, but still he fiddles.
He takes my foolish questions. And whispers them in anguish in the dark. He is beautiful. He doesn’t see me. He simply fiddles.
Ah and some days how I dream, I dream of the stars
And of the great fortune tellers
They show up in films and documentaries too
The fairy godmothers of this world,
They wave around and E turns to the square of mc
Their words inspire, they see the future, they tell us what its like
And dear office while I sound absurd, think about it.
I saw the most beautiful sight a few weeks ago in Mandu. Yes, it was great, a historical site with 72 kilometres of fortress walls protecting a city of 9 lac folk and with over a 1000 palaces, Mandu was the centre of Mughal rule for 6 years before Shah Jahan moved the court to Delhi. However, in all it’s glamour including great palaces built like ships (Jahaz Mahal) and large reservoirs and lakes that fed the dry city, it was a relatively insignificant detail that caught my attention. The image that will remain imprinted in my mind forevermore was their great little Hamaam. Concealed behind the walls of this Mughal spa were systems of heating and pumping for water so that steam sprayed out through tiny fissures in the walls like a sauna. The central dome was about 20 feet across, and at its centre was a small circular void representative of the moon, and all around that, cut through the stone so that you could see the sky, were sprinklings of stars that grew smaller as they approached the peripheries. And yes, this is what they called a shower. The hot water was raised from steaming walls and fell from the stars. And once upon a time they placed colored glass and candles along these voids so that each star lit up at night and twinkled in a million hues. And my guide told me poetically, “mano ke taron se hi pani barasta ho”, it was raining from the stars.
Well isn’t it a fool who would say that?
And isn’t it a poet who would love those words enough to fiddle away and play them to dawn and cast them in stone?
There are many kinds of people, and just that many varieties of creative ones. And today I spoke with a 70-year-old gentleman named Antonio E Costa. He paints abstract landscapes (stunning, think sky, neelam) and has trained in architecture and urban design too. And his ways are quite different from mine and from him I am learning to release design, sometimes, from my own clutches. “Let the earth be earth,” he says. “It is the nature of the earth to push forward if you try to restrain it. Understand its force.” They are building their home in the tea plantations outside Coonoor, near Ooty in the Nilagiri mountain range, so we go on site and mess around. “Let the staircase tuck around that corner niche, like a snake, let it wriggle and give it room to move around.”
Well that kind of talk got me thinking about all of this. In Suparna’s words, how much do we let a brick be a brick, and when do we, like seagulls, or rather like one particular seagull name Jonathon, choose to soar? You see there are many kinds of designers. For some, everything belongs to design, that revered mistress. The art, the composition, the lyric, that is the essential, and everything else pays tribute to love her. Some let the material lead the way, they are servants to the force, they investigate, they are the detached observers and theirs is the joy of understanding and foresight. And there are few, the ones that like to play, that like to lead and be led, that jump too far forward only to be swallowed by the greatest of whales, and scorched by the strongest of flames, that fool around, unstable, shifting, wondering why the sky is so high and where all the black bears nest. And perhaps there are more kinds, really.
Or perhaps, as they say, there is only one great being, and the stories of all beings, and all these dilemmas and each game here, each tug of war of design, designer and dreamer, of the real, the imagined and the dreamed, belongs to that singular being, that I or us.
The fool, the fiddler and the greatest of fortune-tellers, we got together, and we’re making the absurd seem likely, we went off on an adventure and we call it a new name everyday.