We looked at people, we looked at places. We looked at happy families going about their lives at all hours of the day and night. We tried to buy stuff to add some colour to our own lives. We looked at people in some more run down houses. We looked at a little girl sleeping on a little mat that would fit her only if she sleeps hugging her knees. A mat she’ll soon grow out of (but will she ever grow out of her life onto something better?). We saw handicapped men singing in a circle and begging their keep.
We walked past all this and felt sad. But more than that, we felt conscious of our own privilege in life. Privilege at being able to afford our lives and having the freedom to pick out our way ahead. We also felt a little conscious of the change we can bring to the rest, should we choose to.
We spoke of architecture. Heard of it being spoken as an art – a beautiful response to the natural beauty of a site located in a fairy land, paid for by clients. We looked at some achievements, some discussions on the way forward, some different approaches. We forgot the reality we had seen. Maybe we chose to forget it. Maybe it is easier to run around in circles in a little box than to confront the world out there.
We did all this and then we walked out, hailed a cab and headed out to enjoy a sumptuous lunch at a tastefully decorated, beautiful little cafe forgetting everything. We moved on.
Or did we?
This post is based on the author’s impressions following a visit to the city of Mumbai for the Indian Architect & Builder’s 361 degree conference on ‘Architecture & Identity’.