Archive for June 24, 2013

An italian summer house.


Classic example of an earthy , Mediterranean design.owl's house london2

owl's house london.

There is good reason this 17th-century oil mill in southern Italy looks more like a furniture showroom than an inhabited summer house. The dwelling is filled to the brim with the designs of the owners, the architects (and husband and wife team) behind Palomba Serafini Associati, who have together designed bathrooms, kitchens, furniture and lighting for some of the biggest names in Italian design: Boffi, Cappellini, Foscarini and Zanotta.

Retaining the rawness of the existing structure, they have made few interventions, retaining ancient stone floors, walls and arches. A lack of windows in the old mill has been overcome with the use of skylights carved out of the stone, as well as a patio at the rear, allowing the daylight to flood in. In the kitchen they have adapted to the existing space, adding only a sleek, minimal but multi-functional stainless steel island, originally designed for the Italian cabinetry company Elmar…

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There’s a bit of history behind ghost chairs and one involves no less than a king. Philippe Patrick Starck, French product designer, took the form of the Louis XVI chair and reinvented it using a single piece of polycarbonate plastic. The result: a postmodern chair with neoclassic lines. Another popular transparent chair by Starck is the armless Victorian ghost chair which was based on its 18th century predecessor. (Cheaper replicas can now be bought, or rented for use in large events.) Ghost chairs are chic, contemporary, minimalist. They are versatile, blending well with practically all kinds of material. And, man, don’t they make outdoor weddings  look simply ethereal?















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Its “It’s been a while  since i’ve done an excerpt from brainpickings  ,  a  few picks from the interesting website

How Inviting the Unknown Helps Us Know Life More Richly   –

“The unknown was my encyclopedia. The unnamed was my science and progress.”

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves,” Rilke famously urged. “It is possible to live and NOT know,” Richard Feynman dissented in his memorable meditation on the responsibility of scientists. John Keats called for “negative capability” — that peculiar art of remaining in doubt “without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” Debbie Millman advised to look both ways when lingering at the intersection of the known and the unknown. And yet we continue to grasp for the security of our comfort zones, the affirmation of our areas of expertise, the assurance of our familiar patterns — however badly they may need rewiring.

The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947 (public library) — It is possible I never learned the names of birds in order to discover the bird of peace, the bird of paradise, the bird of the soul, the bird of desire. It is possible I avoided learning the names of composers and their music the better to close my eyes and listen to the mystery of all music as an ocean. It may be I have not learned dates in history in order to reach the essence of timelessness. It may be I never learned geography the better to map my own routes and discover my own lands. The unknown was my compass. The unknown was my encyclopedia. The unnamed was my science and progress.

It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar.

Maya Angelou on Freedom: A 1973 Conversation with Bill Moyers


“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”

Well, one works at it, certainly. Being free is as difficult and as perpetual — or rather fighting for one’s freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good jew or a good Moslem or a good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up in the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again.

She addresses the laziness of stereotypes:All you have to do is put a label on somebody. And then you don’t have to deal with the physical fact. You don’t have to wonder if they are waiting for the Easter bunny or love Christmas, or, you know, love their parents and hate small kids and are fearful of dogs. If you say, oh, that’s a junkie, that’s a nigger, that’s a kike, that’s a Jew, that’s a honkie, that’s a — you just — that’s the end of it.

When Moyers asks Angelou what wisdom she’d share with a hypothetical young daughter — a question that would sprout the wonderful Letter to My Daughter more than three decades later — she offers:

I would say you might encounter many defeats but you must never be defeated, ever. In fact, it might even be necessary to confront defeat. It might be necessary, to get over it, all the way through it, and go on. I would teach her to laugh a lot. Laugh a lot at the — and the silliest things and be very, very serious. I’d teach her to love life, I can bet you that.

Moyers asks Angelou how, despite the devastating events of her life, she managed to “stay open to the world, open to hope,” and she reflects:

Well, I think you get to a place where you realize you have nothing to lose. Nothing at all. Then you have no reason to bind yourself. I had no reason to hold on. I found it stupid to hold on, to close myself up and hold within me nothing. So I decided to try everything, to keep myself wide open to human beings, all human beings — seeing them as I understand them to be, not as they wish they were, but as I understand them to be. Very truthfully — not idealistically, but realistically. And seeing that if this person knew better he would do better. That doesn’t mean that I don’t protect myself from his actions, you know.

Love the elegant colour palette

Denim and Gray

Simple, classic looks from the 2013 Spring/Summer Collection of Lacoste Women. Love the riding hat and the low-heeled sandals!


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100 days of hope – The Hindu. Excerpt

When she spots the camera lens, 72-year-old Rukku flashes a radiant, toothless smile. Her peers quickly catch on the infectious smile, transforming a place of hard labour into something else entirely.

It was at a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) site that I met Rukku, from Nilgiri district, and a curiously harmonious group of middle-aged and older workers.

“I now don’t need to depend on my relatives for money. I can now buy my grandchildren whatever they want,” Rukku says.

The MGNREGA guarantees a hundred days of wage-employment every year for its members. The unskilled manual work offers livelihood and better financial security in rural areas. Rukku herself earns about Rs. 4,000 a month. She is among the thousands over the age of 65, who work regularly as beneficiaries of the scheme.

Lakshmi, now 65, lives with her husband in Erode. Her children are grown up and live in another city. They do not send her money. Her husband is unwell and too weak for manual labour. She is now the breadwinner of the family.

The scheme also seems to foster a habit of regular savings among the workers.

Under the scheme, these men and women build civic utilities like ponds for ground water recharge, roads, footpaths, children’s playgrounds and burial grounds. The scheme has enabled creation of thousands of farm ponds in the lands of small and marginal farmers and in the farmlands owned by SC/ST communities.

An important feature of implementation of MGNREGS in Tamil Nadu is the active participation of the differently-abled, facilitated by a separate Government order stipulating a special schedule of rates. The tangible benefits have translated into a healthy work atmosphere.

Saravanan, an Assistant Engineer at the site, explains, “Though advanced in age, the workers here are quite able. The camaraderie and a sense of independence from their kin tend to help them get back their health.”

Work is all they’ve ever known. It’s what they do even now, in the evening of their lives. The only difference is that the work now happens amid meals cooked on charcoal fires, the laughter of their grandchildren and the camaraderie of 200 of their peers.

Love song

Pure love………

My Musings – Hoping to see more villages like this ……..this can be a plausible solution to check the excessive migration to cities and farmer suicides due to Unemployment and drought in rural india and can also promote Eco-tourism


   It takes a village – The HinduEXCERPT

The three S’s — Sea, Sun and Sex — are no longer crowd-pullers when it comes to tourism. They’ve been replaced by the three E’s — Entertainment, Education and Experience. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Sargaalaya Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Iringal, an hour’s drive from Kozhikode. More than its beautiful scenery and a serene ambience, what has made this place a hit with the tourists is the presence of artisans and craftsmen from across the country and the opportunity to directly interact with them to buy whatever takes one’s fancy. A State Tourism Department venture, the village was designed by architect R.K. Ramesh and built by the Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society, formed by labourers, on 20 acres of barren land situated nearly the national highway. Before the village came up, the site’s only claim to fame was being the birthplace of Kunali Marakkar, the naval commander of the Zamorin of Kozhikode, who fought Portuguese invaders.

Biswajith Roy left his home in West Bengal five years ago and lives in the village fashioning furniture out of reeds and cane. Vezeto and wife Sera Telvo came from Nagaland to seek their fortune in Irinjal. “This place has given us hope. Business is certainly better here than elsewhere but we want to attract more in the comings years,” Sera said, placing colourful artificial flowers in her stall. In other stalls artisans from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odissa sell handcrafted products.

…………………….A crafts academy is being established to improve and professionalise training programmes. The authorities also hope that their proposal to name Sargalya a rural tourism village gets the green signal. Another proposal for support to impart training to 1500 women in neighbourhood is also awaiting Central government clearance. The Saragalaya Art Forum organises programmes like Theyyam and Kalaripayatu for visitors with local artists.

Photo: AP

When protectors turn predators – The HinduExcerpt

Child sexual abuse in juvenile justice institutions [in India] is rampant, systematic and has reached epidemic proportions,’ says a damning report from the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Even the daily list of rapes that now inhabit our news pages does not indicate the extent of the sickness that is now staring us in the face. According to a distressing report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), 48,338 children have been raped in the decade between 2001 and 2011. In these 10 years, there has been a 336 per cent increase in the number of child rapes. Yet, this is only a very partial picture because, as the report emphasises, the majority of child rapes are never reported.

The report is disturbing because it focuses on those institutions where children are supposed to be “protected” — observation homes, shelter homes, children’s homes and special homes designed to take care of children who have been abandoned, have run away or been trafficked. Yet, as the 56 pages of the ACHR report titled “India’s hell holes” details, scores of these children, girls and boys, are raped, sodomised, tortured, forced to work and condemned to live in “inhuman conditions”. The authors of the report conclude: “Child sexual abuse in juvenile justice institutions is rampant, systematic and has reached epidemic proportions.”

Just as stronger laws have been demanded to deal with rape, there are laws to address sexual assaults on children. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2006 was enacted for this purpose. In addition, last year the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 was brought in to specifically deal with such crimes against children. Yet, as the report illustrates, these laws have been rendered toothless with the deliberate violation of their provisions in state after state. For instance, under the law, all homes that shelter children are supposed to be registered. Yet scores of these institutions continue to function without registration or oversight and there is no provision in the law to punish them for this. In any case, even formal registration makes little difference as is evident from what happens in officially recognised institutions. The atrocities against children taking place in such places escape discovery because the mandated Inspection Committees that are supposed to carry out surprise checks either do not exist, or if they do, do not function.

………………………One of the worst horror stories is that of two unregistered homes in Mansarovar and Jagatpura in Jaipur. On March 12, the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, accompanied by local activists and the media raided the homes and rescued 51 children, 27 girls and 24 boys. Of these, 21 were from Manipur, six each from Nagaland and Uttar Pradesh, four each from Assam, Nepal, Rajasthan and Punjab and two from Delhi. The homes were filthy, the food had fungus and the children said they had been locked into the homes. But that was not all. The girls spoke of sexual abuse including being forced to sleep with the man running the home. A 17-year-old girl from Nagaland said she had been repeatedly raped from the age of 11. The children had been lured to the home with a promise of good food and education. Instead, they were served inedible food and educated in sexual torture. This is only one story. The other 38 documented in the report are equally horrific.

So if children are not safe in these “protection homes” and they are not safe in their own homes, what is the answer? It is evident that just having stronger laws is not enough of a deterrent. At the same time, the demand for instant solutions, even if it is understandable in the face of the daily deluge of such atrocities, will solve little.

The significance of so many more people feeling incensed and angry at this state of affairs is that it will turn the spotlight onto the dark corners, like these protection homes where child sexual abuse has been part of the system. Even if we have woken up to the horror of child sexual abuse because of one atrocity, we must recognise that this malady is not skin deep. It has afflicted the entire body.

‘Success is the freedom to do what I want’ – The Hindu.  – Excerpt

Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon came to America at 24; the first Indian woman selected by McKinsey’s after more than 20 interviews. She made partner, then started her own company (Tandon Capital Associates), before turning, in mid-career, to pursue her passion for music.Her first recording — ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ — was a gift for her father-in-law. That led her to form Soul Chants, the company that produced her three albums. Her second album, titled ‘Om Namo Narayanaya: Soul Call’, was nominated for a Grammy. Her third — nine variations on ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Rama’ — was launched recently in New York.

Over a vegetarian lunch, Tandon discussed her exceptional life.

How was it being a trailblazer — few Indians, no women — in the corporate world?

I interviewed in mid-winter, in a sari, chappals and a borrowed coat. I’d been working with Citibank after graduating from IIM-Ahmedabad. I had no American degree, no visa.  McKinsey’s sent me to Japan, where I learned Japanese, discovered Kabuki and Japanese music.

Then, I had to adjust to life in the U.S. On my second day, I rented a car and left, nervously, at 4.00 a.m. for an hour’s drive to an 8.00 a.m appointment! I had no network, no family. I compensated by working non-stop. In five years, I made partner — one of two, out of 12. It was “move up” or “out.”

What prepared you for this experience?

We lived with my grandfather who read to us every night — Shakespeare, English poetry. He made you feel you can be anything you want. It was inconceivable that I’d apply to IIM, or get in.  At my interview, they asked, “You perform on radio? You speak French? Sing us a French song.” So I did!  What I got from my grandfather was inner unstoppability. Many people are smarter, more talented. I have inner strength. I fought to go to college, went on a hunger strike for business school until my mother agreed to let me go. At McKinsey’s, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I wasn’t focused on the lack, I focused on the possibility.

How do you juggle being wife, mother, businesswoman, artiste?

I made major tradeoffs. Life as founder-chairman of my company was brutal: Restructuring an Australian company, I’d fly 32 hours to Brisbane, stay nine days, talk to my nine-year-old via nightly video-conference, micro-arranging her schedule. Returning home, I’d talk to my Brisbane team and work non-stop negotiating other clients. I wasn’t the emotionally available mother I wanted to be. Flying 32 hours every nine days took a toll. Then, I was offered a multimillion-dollar deal, spending four days a week in Europe. I considered it, crying non-stop. I had done mega jobs, working with billionaires, flying on private planes. It was emotionally and intellectually heady. But Lita’s my only child; I wanted to be home with her. I turned down that deal. Professionally and personally, it was catastrophic. Suddenly, I had no identity: a top businesswoman, unsure I even had a business. To quit travel, I had to restructure my company…I missed the excitement but I was there 100 per cent for Lita, everyday. I went into myself, came to a new way of seeing “success” as freedom to do what I wanted. I got into spirituality, searched for answers, for purpose. I’d followed my career mindlessly — among the youngest in my IIM class, accepted into Citibank (which took three out of 116 applicants), then McKinsey’s, and my own business. I never stopped. My life had been other-directed. I re-examined my values: What’s important?

Was music important?  

My happiest times were around music. When I was travelling, I’d go hear music, alone, after work. In New York, I binged — jazz concerts, nights in a row. As children, we had lessons, music was always there; our mother turned on the radio at five! We lived simply: mother cooked, we cleaned. I’d sing as I did chores — Tamil and Hindi film songs, Dean Martin, Listeners’ Choices. At the Alliance Francaise, I sang French songs. McKinsey gave me $5000 to furnish my apartment. I bought an $1800 guitar, a $2000 stereo system, then had no money, so I slept on the floor of my empty apartment. In my only saucepan, I cooked rice and ate it with chutney and yoghurt for the first month. Years later, I requested T. Vishwanathan to teach me. I’d leave home at 4.00 a.m. for his 6-8 Saturday lesson, returning at 10.00 a.m. before Lita awoke. When Indian masters wouldn’t teach me, I found travelling masters. Finally, Girish Wazalwar worked around my schedule, teaching me intensively — all day, seven days at a time.

You teach devotional music…

I started a choir in our temple. Over 100 people come. I compose new music for them, adding verses to bhajans . We sing Shankara compositions. I don’t judge, we enjoy the process every Sunday. There’s no charge, it’s a circle of love, and I’m enriched by it. One woman takes four buses to get there!

A fan of silences:Walter Murch (below) andThe Godfather (Above).

The Godfather

     The music of sound – The Hindu  –  Excerpt :

 Think of sound as a fabric, smooth and cruel like silk or rough and warm like tweed,” said Walter Murch to an audience breathlessly hanging on to his every word.

It was a master class that created images to describe sound. The Oscar-winning ( Apocalypse Now, The English Patient ) sound designer and editor was speaking at the 11th edition of Berlinale Talent Campus. Part of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, the theme for this year’s Talent Campus was “Some Like It Hot – Filmmakers as Entertainers” and featured directors such as Paul Verhoeven ( Basic Instinct ) and Jane Campion and actors including Holly Hunter and yesteryear bombshell Anita Ekberg sharing their knowledge and experiences with film students.

Starting at the very beginning, Murch spoke of sound and space in the womb. “Sound is the first of the senses to be turned on at four-and-a-half months.” While in the womb there is no sense of space and self; outside the womb, the child understands causality and sound — how actions such as clapping hands, snapping fingers or dropping a plate creates different sounds, Murch said.

Murch recalled his ground-breaking work in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) to illustrate the use of causality to enrich the narrative. He recalled the restaurant scene where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) avenges the attempt on his father’s life.“Coppola decided the scene would be in Italian with no subtitles, which meant that unless you understood Italian, the dialogue was unintelligible. Coppola also didn’t want music to dilute the tense scene. The challenge was in conveying the tension in a non-intrusive way. I grew up in New York close to where the scene was shot and decided to use the sound of the train. There is no direct causality as there is no train in the frame but there is a deeper causality. When you use the sound like music, it functions as an X-ray of what’s going on in Michael’s head. He is about to kill two people, and his dream.”

A fan of silences:Walter Murch

Describing film and music as “yin and yang,” Murch stressed on their necessary balance. “Music can be overpowering, like steroids. Filmmakers use music as steroids for emotions; not trusting the audience’ emotion. The Godfather lets the audience feel the emotion without music.”

In Apocalypse Now , Coppola’s 1979 retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness set against the backdrop of madness of war in Vietnam, “Francis wanted the sound to surround the audience; he wanted the explosions to be felt rather than heard.”The iconic opening sets the sonic landscape of the film — the hiss and ominous throb of the choppers are heard before they are seen. As we look at a tightly-wound Martin Sheen in a hotel in Saigon, “We can hear the jungle even though we are looking at a hotel room in Saigon; we are inside Sheen’s head. The sound of the city morphs into the sound of the jungle.”

Murch warns against the danger of over-articulating the surround saying, “You run the risk of taking the audience out of the trance. There is a small window for the sweet spot of between two to three decibels — more is intrusive, less the audience cannot hear. You don’t ever want your audience to say “so what?” You don’t want habituation — getting so used to certain things that it almost disappears like temperature or the sound of traffic.”

Once the floor was thrown open, the questions came thick and fast. One of the first was about working with composers. “Music is what it is; it embodies its own meaning,” explained Murch. “ If you throw music in the end, it isn’t nourishing. If the music is made before the movie is shot, the actors know the partner they are dancing with.”

For all the sound and light of the movies, Murch is a fan of its silences. “Cinema is the only art form that can use silence. Cinema is a theatre of thought. In The Conversation , (1974) Gene Hackman’s character is a sound recordist. The second half of the film does not have much dialogue. Just as you appreciate stars better on a moonless night, you appreciate sound in the absence of dialogue.” Murch cited Touch of Evil , No Country For Old Men and Wages of Fear for the effective use of silence.

What makes an editor? “The ability to work long hours in a dark room and a sense of rhythm and story are the basic requirements. I take pretty detailed notes and study it like an explorer studies a map and then I almost never refer to them again. It is a good training, like artists studying anatomy. I would encourage that kind of discipline,” said Murch . “The crucial point of editing is to know where the cut point is. Never decide by scrolling the scene. You have to feel it by music and emotionally. Every film has a definite rhythmic signature,” he adds.

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