The City Observed by Pallavi Shrivastava reads like dispatches from a battlefront by a seasoned war correspondent. Each chapter is a stimulating vignette of some memorable place, or recently contrived artifact, through which Pallavi unravels counter intuitive conclusions. Pallavi has two eyes and many voices. Those two eyes see things often unnoticed, bringing into focus a collage of real life issues and human circumstances. She has an uncanny ability to conceive of the metropolis as an everyday person would, yet to catalyze unique understandings and conclusions from her choreographies! She navigates the metropolis building narratives out of keen insights, speaking for those without voices; giving eyes to people who have eyes, but no vision. Pallavi’s most provocative ability is to reveal contradictions between the emerging urban form and the critical needs of the everyday Mumbaikar, who emerges forgotten in the unfolding scenario. Her written landscapes reveal disturbing images of the bad within the good, and of poverty within plenty. From bright images emerge a sense of charm, tinged by nostalgia for the city’s past, yet a warning of pathos in times to come.
In the first episode of our ‘Architects on Architecture’ series, we discuss the fundamental ideas that helped shape one of the most versatile practices in India in conversation with Dr Brinda Somaya, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai.