The X-Way was a 2 day workshop sponsored by Nokia and Microsoft that focused on ideas, strategies and discussion around improving Mumbai city. Ben & Andrew moderated the workshop, keeping it challenging as twenty creatives and innovators came together with many, many city ideas.
One of the interesting exercises was listing things we love and hate about Mumbai. It was heartening to see that the 'love' pile was so much bigger despite Mumbai's numerous faults.
When discussing Mumbai's numerous problems, traffic cannot be ignored. Everything to do with traffic and way-finding is contextual. Signage is missing in a lot of places. When pedestrians give directions, the meaning may be different depending on the tone of their voice, how they stand, hand gestures and language. Honking has varied meanings depending on frequency, tones, loudness and the length of each honk. The city is a hotbed of large scale issues and topics of interest.
My team eventually looked at pavement ownership as a microcosm of health and sanitation. How could we encourage and create value in a public space such as pavement. We were in posh areas of Mumbai, and even here we found street hawkers taking ownership of pavements (in a good way) keeping them clean and ensuring their part of the pavement was maintained. Eventually we focussed even further and came up to a sugarcane vendor. Could we come up with something to help him wash the glasses in his stall while he was busy doing a million other things like making the juice, serving and cashing. A lot of times hygiene and proper washing was way down in his priorities while multi-tasking.
The final concept after two days of guerrilla research and quick prototyping was the 'jugaad dishwasher' - a mechanically automated machine that washed glasses saving the vendor time and effort as he ran a one-man operation. The washer connects to the juice machine itself so it doesn't need electricity to run. Soap is optional here since most vendors do not use soap. Overall the 'jugaad dishwasher' concept could also work for other street hawkers, juice vendors and with a few upgrades could even save time in someone's kitchen.
Check out some photos of the prototype we made. The video below has a few shots of us talking to sugarcane vendors.
The rotating juicer translates into the up and down movement of the simple washer, which repeatedly rinses the glasses. The trough can be easily refilled and cleaned and occupies minimal space.
Initially the concept of the "elsewhere" that inspired my focus on the conflict between the real and the ideal in Mumbai came from an article by Ashraf K. Kazi about the "Masala City." He went on to give examples from Bollywood movies such as Mein Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, where the entire movie unfolds in an imaginary Indian town called Sundarnagar. This lead me to look into Bollywood and the ways it represents Mumbai. The movie-making industry in Mumbai has come of age - now more than a 100 years old, and it reflects the city's conflicts, politics and desires as much as its people. Excerpts from the book Bombay Cinema by Ranjani Mazumdar:
"The Bombay-based film industry resonates throughout the world, in places where the Indian diaspora has settled and in places where nonnative speakers appreciate its unique choreography of music, melodrama, fantasy, and spectacle. Much of popular cinema’s success can be attributed to what many in the industry refer to as a “techno folk” form, which combines folk traditions with new cinematic technology."
"Drawing on various visual, literary, and artistic traditions, each with its own distinct history, popular Indian cinema is an evolving, unabashedly hybrid cultural form that narrates the complicated intersection between tradition and modernity in contemporary India. Film production started in India almost simultaneously with other filmmaking countries, beginning in 1896."
The author also mentions the Indian street, as a place which contains Indian life and all its related conflicts. Although I am currently focussing on building a virtual Mumbai skyline, creating a street could also interest me in the future.
"In a rare piece, Arjun Appadurai describes the Indian street as the space where “India eats, works, sleeps, moves, celebrates and worships. The street is a stage that rarely sleeps” (1987, 14). Through a vivid visual anthropology (across different cities of India), Appadurai traces both the historical formation and the function of the street, as well as its present location in the cultural and social life of India. The multiple activities and events of the street are a clear reminder that the “sharp demarcation of public from private spheres is a recent addition to the Indian consciousness” (1987, 14). For Dipesh Chakrabarty, the modernist categories of the public-private divide were challenged by the street in India where “People washed, changed, slept...out in the open” (16). But neither Appadurai nor Chakrabarty refers specifically to the presence of women in the street. The Indian street as described by these writers is ubiquitous and peopled by all types engaged in different forms of activity in an almost genderless space."
Ashraf, K Kazi. (2005) Masala City: Urban Stories from South Asia. The New Mix: Culturally dynamic architecture, Sara Caples and Everardo Jefferson, Architectural Design. Vol 75, No 5 Sept/Oct 2005, pp.67-68.
Mazumdar, Ranjani. Bombay Cinema : An Archive of the City. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. p 18, 19, 120. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/aib/Doc?id=10206194&ppg=18 Copyright © 2007. University of Minnesota Press. All rights reserved.
My first real trip to London (I feel like such a tourist): it was only a day but we covered quite a bit, bravely braving the wind and rain to see as many art shows and galleries we could within a day. And we successfully covered at least ten, I think, popping in and out of the tube and walking and walking...
Discarded adapters, fans, speakers, telephones, calculators and a toy robot: all lying on the same sheet of tarpaulin. This random stuff is sold at Sunday Market near Nehru Street. If you really look you can find some awesome stuff here.
I can spot a microwave, DVD player, mixer, boombox, and lots more:
Some photographs that attempt to describe urban Indian streets at night.