Monday, February 28, 2011

Life and soul

I was in Calcutta some time back, my second visit in less than a month, and third in a span of six months. Which is sorta strange, because before that, I hadn't visited in more than two years.

I love Calcutta (in small doses, that is), but I can't really claim to know the city. Visits are too fleeting, and usually too much about family commitments, for me to ever have got the chance to get to know this city properly.

Those two years away, however, consisted of several work-related trips to Chennai. And every time I would visit Chennai, I would be struck by its similarity to Calcutta. The airports are identical, both cities have a sleepy, old-world feel to them, the narrow roads and flyovers in both seem to be fitted between two rows of old, rambling houses - you know? And in both cities, except for the odd pocket or area, you don't see nothing but tall buildings covered in glass.

Which brings me to a major grouse I have. What is this need to build office buildings covered in glass? Every where I look, a new office building is being constructed, covered in glass windows from top to bottom. While I assume the architects, in some corner of their hearts, wanted people to go "Ooooooh" on seeing these building, all I can think is how needlessly astronomical those window-cleaning bills must be.

And these buildings have no character, no soul to them, you know? They seem so... lifeless.

Whereas the nice, old-fashioned buildings with brick and concrete exteriors always seem so much more welcoming, elegant, and human.

Every time I visit CP, for example, I am struck by the Statesman Building. I had once tweeted that it's one of those buildings you have a love affair with from a distance. As Sahil had responded, you've never been inside, don't know what it's really like, but it catches your fancy every single time.

And seeing this photo (obtained from here - I love this site) a few days back reminded me of this old grouse. I have never understood why all modern buildings seem to be covered in glass. It's weird at night, when you can look in and see late workers at their cubicles. And there's just no charm to them at all.

You know?


Anonymous said...

I remember the statesman building tweet. And your blog makes me want to on a heritage walk.

antiglam superstar! said...

You've never been inside the Statesman building? Oxford bookstore? That's where I think I fell in louu for the first time. :P