INDIA Blog 1 (Dec-Jan)

(January 5, 2020)

2 weeks in Malleswaram + with Srishti colleagues + fellow fellows

After exploring Sampige Road with markets and small stores down to ‘Green Path’, an organic store + lunch place, I am surprised to find a (German) ‘SPAR’ supermarket in the Mantri mall at the subway station. Supplied with household basics + groceries I start many days of meetings at Srishti.

Manjari introduces me to several faculty teaching sustainability-related design courses + I decide on giving 2 “Master classes” (Srishti term for guest lectures). A skype with Arzu gives me valuable literature + people references – but our February workshop is in flux + I may join her March project instead (meaning I have to replan my travel > see below, it all works out < and then in mid-March it doesn’t – but I digress>). One thing I have learned is to be flexible with my planning + trust it will all fall into place. A new insight for an organizer like me.

A weekend insert:

Pete silk factory doorway

Sat Jan 11: 8am (YES, a sacrifice for a night person like me!) ‘Bengaluru by foot’ city walk in the old ‘Pete’ town: The most impressive part was the walk through the old alleys and silk factory streets that I would never find or dare to walk into on my own: we went to a silk wash + dye factory – 2 rooms, steamy, wet, dark – with 2 men each wrestling large batches of silk thread in + out of concrete basins. We continued to another 2-room factory tightly packed with 4 electric looms. The concrete walls reverberated with the deafening metal racket. It made me appreciate the difficult labor going into the gorgeous silks.

Silk dye factory in Pete

I continued with one of the participants, a Berlin student, via the Botanical Garden to the legendary MTR for a lunch of endless plate refills, and ended on Church Street at the Bangalore ‘Strand NYC’ equivalent, the 3-story Blossoms. Got some books on Bangalore + water (Discovering Bengaluru by Meera Iyer, Nature in the City by Harini Nagendra). On the way we peeked into St. Marks church for an amazing scent of fresh wedding flowers!


Sun, 12 – Arzu made me aware of a water-exhibit  (‘Submerge’ – by Smithsonian plus select artists & talks at the new Science Gallery ( – with Dr. Nagendra, the author of the above book. I meet her, along with Meetu, a marketing writer for an eco startup developing ‘at-home’ water test kits. I meet Meetu next Saturday at the Museum of Modern Art to continue our conversation. I ended Saturday with a reference to smell + will do so again, illustrating the wildly opposite sensual and ecological impressions: the beautifully designed and ecologically conscious gallery sits next to a heavily polluted canal. I had to hold my breath to photograph and record it.

‘Submerge; at Science Gallery

Mo, 13 – Th 16 January: meetings with Manjari on upcoming classes + with Srivi, (Srisrividhiya Kalyanasundaram) who heads several UG and PostG programs. She is writing her Ph.D. on how visuals can translate sustainable issues. To that end, she is rethinking the curriculum philosophy centered around the question: “Who is the person coming out of our programs + what do they stand for?” Among clusters are experiential projects on Embodied Practice to foster a relationship with nature. Geetha Narayanan, Srishti’s founding director encourages innovative and interdisciplinary ecologically responsible practice. To learn more, I spend the next day in the library- and Srivi introduces me to a number of colleagues who I meet that week. Just a sampling here: ecological economy; law, environment + planning;  social justice; public space design, urban planning. Faculty come from such diverse backgrounds as art, design, psychology, communications, biology, film, media studies.

>Gururaja is a Biology researcher, teaching the value of animals (specifically frogs) in their habitat and brings urban students and communities together to foster a relationship with nature to motivate its protection.

> Keya, an environmental geographer brings students to rural communities and then maps the resulting data and insights.

> Rustam, Dean of Projects, is a political ecology writer + we have an animated discussion with tips for Delhi NGOs he worked for.

> Mahesh, a photographer and documentary filmmaker takes students to grasslands and to explore impactful visual ecological storytelling.

I am collecting so much valuable information on sustainability initiatives in + out of Srishti – and all colleagues are extremely welcoming + share their history with me. The public school bus gets me to + from Srishti. I am happy to reduce my heavy Uber/Ola taxi carbon footprint.

Six Bangalore Fulbrighters at Koshy’s.

Wednesday (Harvest Holiday) Jan 15 – I had emailed all Bangalore Fulbright-Nehru scholars; so six of us meet at Koshy’s before Sebastian (left) returns to the US in 2 days. Sammi (right), who works on Women’s Empowerment at a Bangalore NGO invites me to join her at the Barefoot college near Jaipur (combined with the Jaipur Lit fest that 8 other Fulbrighters will attend). A happy coincidence, since I was interested in the Barefoot College ‘Solar village women engineers’ initiative but did not have a contact there. Some inquiries and I’ll go + am excited! Cutting this blog short bc I have to work through the weekend to move up all my January deadlines + prepare for the first lecture (Monday) on ‘Outsourcing Culture’ with KumKum’s design class on “Decolonizing Design?”

All is good! Jaipur next!

(not so quick > Have to let you know of a surprise visitor, a monkey made it up our sheer wall and onto the kitchen table. Took off with my banana and nut bowl (no photo + the window is now closed as I am writing on my laptop all day… now taking a break with the NY Times..) . Jan 21.

Since WordPress does not let me insert jumps to headlines, please continue with INDIA Blog2 + 3!

One thought on “INDIA Blog 1 (Dec-Jan)

  1. Very interesting. I like your fresh picked organic vegetable lunch. I saw you were riding your bike on the muddy road. Very brave!
    Thank you so much for your interesting India blog.
    Take good care, Hsiao-yu

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