Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Archaeology of Civilization (poem)

The dead continue to haunt by their
mummified memories
in humble tombs, in great monuments,
in minted coins,
now in the networks caught on the web
in virtual reality,
while leaving the Earth of the living
further desertification,
in false promises of Shangri-La;
the ego flights don’t stop;
the digging graves don’t stop.
The bloody shameless hypocrite societies
Continue to haunt
the aborigine – the sons of soil –
in the wilderness of their
forests or even the deserts.

There is news. The world’s oldest city, a fabled ‘mother city’, is found in the desert of Peru. It was found by Ruth Shady Solis, an archaeologist at National University of San Marcos, Lima. The ancient city of Caral in Supe Valley of Peru dates to 2,627 BC, which was much older than the Harappa towns and the pyramids of Egypt. It is interesting to note that Caral, Harappa and pyramids in Egypt are in the deserts, though I wonder what was the environment then!

Remigius de Souza
© Remigius de Souza. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Remi’s resolve

Remi’s resolve
by Remigius de Souza

The metropolis of my mind is a space
of inward–outward–tray. The messages
flutter, ricochet from high-rise walls;
walls, walls everywhere, reverberate,
echo, send tremors of heat and noise.

I wander in my attire made of rags
of politics, of dogmas, of crafty arts,
to find some peace – place – of cool waters
and soothing foliage, in vain. Desolate
Remi wonders, was I born like this?

There’s no way than to shed your skin sooner.
and be on your feet than head better.

(In the modern civilized wilderness either
you laugh at yourself or be a buffoon!)

Copyright © Remigius de Souza 2007

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA
My poetry homepage:

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Watering the farms

Watering the farms:
Learning from the people

Paddy farming in Konkan
 Paddy farming needs plenty of water. Even during monsoon the farmers need water management during different events of farming actions.

While watering their farms, the farmers traditionally use simple, commonsense techniques. They use various implements to lift water from wells or streams for irrigation, which work by human energy and/or bull energy. Now some use pumps that work on diesel or electricity.
Before pouring the water in the troughs or channels dug in the farms, they prepare cow dung slurry in water, and spread it in the beginning stretch of the channel. That helps to seal the pores in the channel and thus prevents water loss by percolation right in the beginning, thus it assures that water reaches to the end of the farm.

Theories of economics, or politics, or democracy may sound and seem glamorous, but the instruments of application matter. Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Prize winner in physics, is quoted by DR. Judah Kahn, to have said: “I was asked to assist in the creation of the world’s most destructive machine but I was never asked how to use it. Now I realize what I have done and the machine could do, and I am afraid” (Richard P. Feynman, ‘Don’t you have time to think?’ Ed. Michelle Feynman, Penguin, 2005, p. 361). Feynman died by cancer. (Was it due to the atomic radiation?) He was deeply interested in the mysteries of Nature, in the compartment of Physics, and perhaps missed Biology – his own body.

In modern society, while intellect takes topmost level, body – individual or the collective – is neglected, exploited, and oppressed. This is evident at national, regional and global levels in a great mass of human body of the underclass, the other living beings and the Earth; the corporate flourish. Do the numbers or statistics — one or one million, ten percent or ninety percent — matter, except for those who sit in the chambers, or move in a grove, or fly high and don’t see beyond their eyelids?

Unfortunately much of the resources – cash or kind, education or skills, which may be appropriate to 21st century – that are meant for the target groups on the lowest economic rungs are absorbed by the administrative channels of the governments; a known secret. Indeed, it is similar in nature to irrigation by pump sets, where water is wasted because of high velocity and volume, which is not controlled. It is high time, the governments learn from the people, and find the ways to plug the dissipation of resources. And please stop treating these people as second class citizens and beneficiaries until the next round of elections.

Sadly, it seems Indian Democracy has lost its sense of proportion and priorities for last six decades, which claims to be a ‘developing nation’, of course at the cost of the Third World India (and the Fourth World India) that only benefits the First World India. We only hope the “PAYBACK TIME’ comes soon.

Late News: Where do the money go? Read: Flood Fraud - January 12, 2007.
Remigius de Souza

Monday, 10 December 2007

Reflections on ‘A Devil’s Chaplain’

Engraving of moon phases on bone (30,000 yBP
A Devil's Chaplain

Reflections on ‘A Devil’s Chaplain’ by Richard Dawkins
By Remigius de Souza

My second attempt to continue reading the book, ‘A Devil’s Chaplain’, failed. It is not because I have any bias against science. Being Indian there is a belief at back of my mind that humans go through cycle/s of rebirth, through as many as 8.4 million yonis (life forms such as, a animal, bird, insect, human etc.) – depending upon their karma; even the gods are not spared. I do not expect Darwin or Dawkins should subscribe to this belief.

Typically, like the western, and later the westernized societies, the book, too, boasts, as if no science did exist in the bygone eras before the Industrial Revolution.

The image of the engraved bone plaque illustrated here is 30,000 yBP old, from Blanchard, France. It shows phases of the Moon, engraved by different tools and in different styles of strokes. It’s from the Palaeolithic Era. The schematic representation shows the serpentine mode of accumulating the sequential information within a small area (Source: Eccles, John C., ‘Evolution of Brain: Development of the Self’, Routledge, 1991, p. 135).

Which compartment does the plaque belong? Is it a work of art or science? It is holistic. Modern science is digging in the past and probing the celestial space. Both certainly could help us to see our place in the geological and cosmic times, with humility.

However, it has so far not succeeded to know and understand the human phenomenon – in body, mind and spirit – that is so dynamic. How does the plaque qualitatively rank in arts, sciences or technologies among all the artefacts the humanity has produced from the beginning of time? Are the so-called self-proclaimed superior societies truly so? 

What prompted Darwin to coin the phrase, ‘devil’s chaplain’, I do not know. Perhaps it is because of the hold of Creation myth, or hypothesis, or theory, of faith, of belief on the Christian societies, and that he by his proof of evolution was challenging it or the contemporary society. I believe that the Creation myth expects one to be humble before God, Nature, or mystery that is Life

How ironic that after Darwin (1809-1882), after nearly two hundred years, that the plant and animal species continue to vanish at a faster pace than ever before: ecological collapse. That the rate of rapid climate change and global warming frighten us: environmental degradation. That the reserves of fossil fuels and other finite resources of the earth are depleting progressively at a faster speed: energy crisis. Above all, it is the widespread deadly poverty and deadly deceases such as, HIV-AIDS. These are fallout of the Industrial Revolution, in the name of social and economic development. Its assaults on land and waters and the living beings continue.

Only the coffer of the gene banks and money banks thrive and grow, which, however, has no tangible value. Evolution now takes place on a laboratory table at the mercy of moneys and monopolies. In the past, the Easter Island reduced to a desert. How long would it take the Earth to come to that disastrous state? Could the slogans at world summits, without action, change it?

The western society has grown old with the advent and growth of Mechanical and Industrial revolutions, now identified as one. Small populations, human labour replaced by machine, mass production, sophisticated land, water and air transport, so also weapons of war, establishment and expansion of colonies, greed for more power and profit are some of the characteristics of the western society, which indeed have turned into an addictions. A line between the science and technology too is already blurred.

Science has emerged as a new religion with its several gods – Marx, Freud, and Darwin etc. Technology is its essential ritual, which penetrates in every sphere of an individual and the collective, and their institutions, and followed either mechanically or blindly without checking ground realities. The high priests of science design, the rest of the mass society follows, not knowing the meaning of the great mantra: E=mc2. This has been happening also in many established institutionalized religions.

It ultimately has resulted in founding the so-called global society, which spreads across the world irrespective of their sovereign boundaries in the First World and Third World countries. Along with the new religion of science, there emerged also the myths for the delight of the pundits. 

For example: Marx’s myth. Lawrence Coupe quotes and comments on several authors – Edgell Rickword, Kenneth Burke, Fredrick Jameson, Herbert Simson and Trevor Mellia, Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook – who speak of Marx’s myth. Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook in ‘The Politics of Hope’ draw a comparison, says Coupe, that suggests ‘both Christianity and Marxism are myths of deliverance’ (‘Myth’, Routledge, 1997, p. 70).

As pundits continue their intellectual exercises, there would emerge many more myths in literary discourse; or they already are there! The recent debate (and dialogue?) between the Creationist and Evolutionist lobbies in the West signifies the Evolution myth is already there, but no deliverance!
As a result, perhaps, the school children there may have to go through a new or revised syllabus for their salvation!

Once in a public speech at a conference, I remarked, “The politicians and the usurers take rebirth as mosquitoes and continue their mission of sucking the blood of the people”, while referring to the hordes of mosquitoes at the conference venue, of course in a lighter vein. However, the wars in various forms, against the poor people and insects have caused their populations too grows: by instinct to save the race and by immunity.
“Be fruitful, and multiply…” Genesis, Holy Bible, 1:28
Now the New Religion of Science practices:
Kill and multiply profits.
Remigius de Souza

07 December 2007
©Remigius de Souza 2000 - 2007

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

LIFE is not a matter

Life is not a matter

LIFE is neither a matter nor a concept. Life is larger than all religions and philosophies, arts and sciences, leave aside trades and technologies, and even the gods that civilization has invented in all the ages and places.

Our ego, however, is larger than Life. We deliver it in sugar-coated benevolent polite words. Here, entities become letters and numbers, and get divided and coded by deductive systems; we are devoid of sensitivity to Life.

We are not only dependent on others but also ignorant. We design the standards of living though utterly ignorant of worth of Life, not knowing how dependents are we on whom we depend.

We hide our inadequacies under verbal – physical cosmetics to face the naked facts of Life, or our egocentric vested interests shy away from facing them.

In that we don’t realize we become entities living in Virtual Reality, moving in virtual time, sustain on borrowed memories – from bygone PAST and/or speculated Futures.

In our Age of Trade and Technology, we equate Life with our elite hi-tech living standards.

Indeed, how many times do I proclaim, words, "My life"? I treat Life as if it is my possession, an object; as if I own Life. The fact, however, is that Life owns me; I am at mercy of Life; that Life is totally indifferent to my mind's tantrums. 

Life is ruthless, unkind unlike God that gets angry or loving.

Life isn’t a four letter word like Love, Work, Time… etc. 
I quote my short composition:NOTE


No more cannibalism
in any form
not even by proxy
as tomorrow's sun rises —
Alas, the night endless.
[Written on April 8, 1994, published online on June 4, 2001 on my poetry Homepage]

NOTE: Image above is from Internet
©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Tiger in zoo

(Note: I take the title from Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story”, a one act play. What could be more fitting title for any man-made zoo? This story was written on the occasion, when an architect friend from Vadodara City wrote about the proposed shifting of zoo from the Sayaji Garden to a location near Ajava Lake outside the city, and asked for suggestions.)

THE BEST EVER ‘ZOO’ is that made by the Nature. A zoo made by civilised society is only a ‘museum’ even if it is for ‘living’ animals. Museums are for artefacts, the stuffed animals.


Progressive people may make any effort to make a zoo near to natural environment to showcase living animals. It, however, is not anyway different than ‘Mickey & Donald’ and ‘Tom & Jerry’ stuff, or Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’. They implant human virtues and vices upon animal world.

Howsoever vast wooded area may be available to ‘Chidia Ghar’ – zoo – at Delhi; the animals are kept far from their natural environment, restricted, of course, to cages for obvious reasons. There a larger proportion of land is left for the visitors, far too large for their numbers. Here again, the civilised ‘pleasure-of-seeing’ culture dominates. Humans ‘see’ the animals; animals look at the open zoo beyond their cages where humans pretend to move freely in their fragmented world. Perhaps the animals even may be thinking, ‘what kind of slum the humans have created to dump us?”

Sayaji Garden or popularly known ‘Kamati Baug’, including the zoo, at Baroda had once sympathetic environment in spite of its limitations until late 1960s. Its original design was maintained until then.

On the contrary, even a household garden could be a thriving wild life sanctuary in miniature if sensitively developed. It requires, of course, constant observation and care, which may take one closer to the elements and one may have divine experience of life. But man thinks s/he is the centre of the world, universe, and wants to control and dominate it. Then what about the land, water, animals, vegetation, and vast majority of people who are mute?

Features of a zoo

THE FIRST ELEMENT is the land (and water). The land should be restored (reforested) with vegetation: grasses (including bamboo), bushes, vines and trees of indigenous species. They should be fruit-seed-flower-bearing varieties, and condiments, spices, fibres, herbal medicines, and aquatic plants.. Grasses may include even cereals such as, wheat, rice raised by broadcasting seeds. There need not be manicured lawns.

If there are no existing watercourses and water bodies, than new ‘natural’ ponds and channels should be designed and created, by changing and building new contours to land.
This should enable harvesting and conservation of rainwater. Species of trees (vegetation) may be suitably selected for different animals in different areas.

Reforestation helps to restore and raise subsoil water table over a period of time. Reforestation also helps to restore wild life in the area. There is rich and variety of wild life in different regions of India. Some wild life may be introduced in the zoo; some will find their way into the area, for example, langur, squirrels, birds etc.

If human intervention is restricted in the land for reforestation during the development, the forest will grow faster and healthy.

THE SECOND ELEMENT is the animals. Animals include mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects etc. inside and outside the cages in the zoo.

It is already accepted that to keep wild animals in captivity is immoral, even illegal, and that they should be restored to their natural habitat. There are persons and organisations committed to save endangered species, help their breeding and leave them to their natural habitat. Zoo should be more than a museum.

How much area each animal should have?
How to bring security and sustenance to the wild life outside the cages?
These are some of the vital questions needed to be resolved.

THE THIRD ELEMENT is the human. The humans at the ‘zoo’ besides the visitors are the caretakers of the imprisoned animals, of land and water and of plantation. These humans are generally addressed as ‘staff’. Do they love and understand animals, land, water and plants like a farmer? Or do bureaucratic red tape and protocol bog them down, like executives, planners and experts?

How much land should be provided for the visitors other than for strictly pedestrian access – pathways? Of course, no automobiles other than in the case of emergency, no tar or concrete roads, no concrete buildings there at the zoo; only earth macadam roads.

Electricity should be supplied by alternative energy sources, occasionally supported by the conventional supply. Electrical lighting should be minimum and controlled by careful design.
Animal dung and droppings should be disposed i.e. utilised carefully. For example, some birds use the cat dung in building their nests to protect them from the predators.

‘Zoo Story’

‘Zoo’ reminds me of “Zoo Story”, the one-act play by Edward Albee. The play has many dimensions; one of them is the ‘animal’ in man, civilised man. In the 1960s once I had met the attendant of the crocodile park in the palace compound at Baroda. He had established a bond with the crocs, though one of his palms was severed by one of them. He used to enter the fenced area, call them by their pet names and feed the crocs. Zoos, however, most of them, are a vulgar display of man’s power over (or fear of?) nature.

The modern civilisation has taken the principle of ‘division of labour’ to the world beyond their occupations. They have divided the world into fine compartments. They have deforested the land and developed parks, created reservations for the aborigines, built cages for the animals, and created slums and ghettos for the fellow human beings.

It also signifies how the urbanites in the modern times are divorced and isolated from Mother Nature, even though she is the lifeline, source of sustenance for living beings and culture. The modern civilization, taking on entire view, presents a sick society. Their contact with nature, if any, like that with their religions, is only a periodical or occasional ritual.

Could the urbanites ever re-establish their kinship with nature in their daily life, within the built environment of cities? But this may not be a lucrative proposition in the capitalist economy? Providing a ‘safe corridor for the wildlife’, instead of zoos, through the cities could help the citizens to restore their physical, mental, spiritual and social health, without gating and ticketing. Does democracy matter?

The ‘Chidia Ghar’ – zoo – at Delhi charges Rs.10/- and 5/- for adults and children visitors respectively. In that price if they give a map of the zoo on a newsprint paper (free) along with each ticket, perhaps, the people can carry back home something as a reminder and wish to visit again. Besides they can decide and choose which part to visit. Then there is no need to draw and paint arrows on the road and guide the people like goats and sheep.

Remigius de Souza

Note: Image Tiger in zoo, Source: Internet
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Lesson for Life-time

A Lesson for life-time

My mother taught me by example on the ground, which I learnt by experience, ‘how to sustain without cash or currency in my pocket by honest labour in the soil'. That was sixty years ago. A lesson indeed for a life-time! But now I work for money with money, and abuse soil, which remains as a four letter word.


¬ ¬ ¬ ¬ ¬

Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA
My poetry homepage:

Friday, 9 November 2007

Indira’s Emergency Recalled – 2

Indira’s Emergency Recalled – 2

The Emergency (1975-77) imposed by India Gandhi made a mark of state terrorism, but with difference; it targeted the elite. It became a landmark of decadence. As I said before, it didn’t make even a ripple among the tribal and peasants, because they had/have nothing to loose. It, as usual, was born out of insecurity of those who held centralized power. However the seeds of terrorism have always been dormant in the pre-independence eras.

There have been other examples of state terrorism that targeted the people who protested the policies and practices, for example, the protest of the farmers against the compensation to be paid for land acquisition for the Thal-Vaishet project by the Government of Maharashtra when some farmers were shot dead. There are many more examples.

Indira’s Emergency also made a way for other forms of terrorism, widespread across the country in the following years, which continues till now. Terrorists’ attacks on public and private properties including one on the Parliament, the communal riots, and atrocities by the Naxalite, etc. are considered as criminal acts against the society at large. The glaring examples are the riots in Gujarat and the turmoil of peasants in Nandigram, which is burning on the eve of Divali - the festival of lights - in West Bengal, where one may question the role of the state. The tribal and the peasants are increasingly displaced from their homestead and/or are forced to commit suicides by the strong-arm of money-market-political powers.

All these acts of terrorism are initiated, managed and manipulated by the elite in high places. Their weapons as well as targets are ‘common’ people, or the second class citizens, who blindly fall for the incitement by those who hold power to create unrest and disrupt people, thereby the society at large.

But their real weapons that come handy are the widespread poverty, illiteracy, social-economic disparity and the lack of education in the fast changing environment. The root cause is the glaring lack of civic sense and hygiene – physical, mental and spiritual – at personal and collective levels, from the top to bottom – from princes/presidents/prime ministers to the paupers on a street. No occupation or profession or vocation or institution is an exception. To find an exception, we may have to search with microscope in the present fragmented and decadent global society.

At an individual level I neither can vouch for others nor for myself. While I was practicing as an architect planner I realized then, and later, how many holes I must have made in an ozone layer in my sphere! A sin, for example, committed in architecture (shelter?) and planning could be comparable to the mythical idea of Original Sin (see: Bible), which can never be absolved. The damage done to Life and to Mother Earth is permanent. Look at devastated Chernobyl!

Perhaps a simplistic answer to a question of civic sense and hygiene is to restore community, not communality; to restore plurality not dogmatic polarity; to restore holistic, not deductive, view of life; to restore leisure, not speedy pleasures; to restore universal education, not fragmented information; to recycle people’s time-tested wisdom, not graft compartmentalized expertise… You can go on adding to this litany: all issues address to civic sense and hygiene at local to global level. Industrialization has failed to supply quality to living is already proved beyond doubt.

Remigius de Souza

Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA
My poetry homepage:

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Indira’s Emergency Recalled

Indira’s (1975-1977) Emergency Recalled

Pakistan is going through the emergency I go into retrospection. Pakistan is a part of this subcontinent, and the entire subcontinent is going through volatile social, political, environmental, economic etc. crisis.

Architects of the Emergency (1975-77) – Indira Gandhi, her Opponents and the Opportunists – may, or may not, have foreseen and measured, then, its long-term effect on the Indian democracy and polity.

After the emergency all successive governments at the centre and some states became caretaker governments, by the political parties manipulating alliances in scramble for power.
In a tribute to the event I did some sketches, which I now dig out. My daily living had been hectic then, and I had been travelling for almost one-third of every year in struggle for survival. Many a times I visited interior areas.
The people in Mumbai were talking in hushed voice in public places during those days. The real estate prices nosedived. Grocery shops were displaying the prices and stocks of commodities on the boards in public view.
I have been visiting tribal areas and villages since 1960s, in and around Gujarat State, which also included the hills with dense forest that are now submerged in the infamous Sardar Sarovar Project, and from where thousands of tribal families are displaced. I noticed, the Emergency did not make even a ripple among the tribal.
The tribal have been perpetually living in a state of emergency for thousands of years. I recount two events from epic Mahabharat.
In one event, Dronacharya, the guru of Pandavas and Kauravas for military skills, demanded and took Eklavya’s thumb as his fees for being an absentee guru in archery. His descendants, the Bhil tribe in India, to this date, do not use their thumb in archery; it’s a living memorial.
Democratic India, of course, forbids the tribal to carry bows and arrows, being a weapon. The impotent imagination/creativity of the Agency could not turn archery as a sport for the tribal and treat them with dignity. Archery remains an exclusive domain of the elite, the Pandavas and Kauravas of modern India.
In another event, Arjun and Krishna were prospecting a suite for Pandava’s new capital. They selected Khandav-van, which was inhabited by the Nag tribe, close to present Delhi. (Nag were not snakes. Likewise, the Katkari tribe, near Mumbai, claim to be descendants of Hanuman and his clan, wh0 were called monkeys, in the Ramayana times.)
Arjun and Krishna put Khandav forest to fire and destroyed it together with the Nag people. One of them – Takshak – escaped. He took wow to destroy Pandava’s vansh – lineage, dynasty. King Parikshit, the last of Pandava’s, in fear of death lived in a foolproof, tight security. Takshak took to a form of “sookshmajiva” – minute life-form (or bacterium!), entered into an apple, which Parikshit ate; Takshak killed him from within. Will the history repeat?
The ruling elite minority, in whatever garbs, with power of money, military and knowledge, are playing horror in the lives of the tribal, the peasants and the poor of the minorities, in the name of development and progress (of money and economics). Have they learnt any lesson from the Emergency, and the Past or history that they glamorise with pride? But who will bell the cat?~~~~
Remigius de Souza (7-11-2007)

© Remigius de Souza. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Confessions by Richard Dawkins

Confessions by Richard Dawkins (Book Review)

A Devil’s Chaplain: Selected essays by Richard Dawkins, Edited by Latha Menon, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London (2003). ISBN 0 297 82973 4

When I make a statement I am certain, whether it hits the mark or not, it boomerangs. I just borrowed this book from a public library. The publishers introduce Richard Dawkins as ‘one of our most important evolutionary biologists, and a bestselling writer, for many years. A Devil’s Chaplain is a personal, intriguing selection of his writing which represents a portrait of one of the finest minds in science.’

As usual I go through the introduction (by the editor), Endnotes, Index, and the second cover page. The title refers, though not mentioned, to God, religion faith, beliefs, authority etc., and thereby its context to science. In the background lies evolution – creation debate that is going on in the West. Endnotes and Index have no clue to what I was looking for any reference to the Eastern religions/ cultures. I felt the author’s world is flat – two dimensional. The book contains lot of information though.

As I read the first chapter, “A Devil’s Chaplain” I catch a quote: ‘…There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed* into a few forms or into one…’ which carries a footnote: ‘*in the second edition of the Origin, the three words ‘by the Creator’ were introduced at this point, presumably as a sop to religious sensibilities’ (p. 13). This obviously refers to Charles Darwin and his ‘Origin of Species’, which I have not read.

Then I turn to the last and only chapter, ‘Good and Bad Reasons for believing’ of the last section, ‘A Prayer for my Daughter’. It is actually a letter written by him to his ten year daughter. I find it was worth reading and sharing with others – adults and children alike, for its orientation towards children, though no one need to agree to everything that he says. We don't know what circumstances made him write a letter instead of speaking in person.

Then I quickly go through rest of the pages, reading few here, few there. The book is full of information. However, much of it may not be comprehensible, or may not be possible to refer back to the references as not many books are available, without the help of specialised libraries. I am not a scientist, besides.

I have been gathering a lot of impressions and some information too over decades. I am not sure how much of this accumulation has turned into knowledge; about any wisdom I am doubtful.

When I read the Marathi Reader compiled by Acharya (Principal) Pralhad Keshav Atre, in my first standard, I developed liking for reading. I did my primary schooling at my native village. I, like many, did not get books (other than textbooks), newspaper or magazines. I would pick any scrap – an old newspaper used for packs that came from grocery shops – to read. Later I was borrowing books from others who had them. Our primary school had a couple of hundred books, which I finished in no time.

Now I read anything available about science from newspapers, magazines, books…, knowing that it is emerging as a new global religion in modern times, bringing along its faith, beliefs, disputes, and also superstitions. Thankfully it, too, is not universal, though global, and is in the safe custody of the scholars, experts and authority alike Vedas in the hands of Brahmins in India.

However now I read selectively, in scraps, at random, even from the bestsellers; I don’t look for entertainment that is usually taken for granted by writers and publishers. I tend to check its claims at the ground level, below my feet, here and now – the hard evidence, which Dawkins boasts while challenging religious and cultural beliefs etc. The results are mostly discouraging.

I find sciences and scientists, as in other disciplines such as architecture and planning, are fragmented, egoistic, and contented in their respective compartments and superstitions. There is no test tube containing ‘life’. They are blissfully divorced from life.

More I read about sciences – pure, natural, applied or social… more I am disillusioned. It is no more than adding the burden on history that is so fickle. This applies even to this book. More I read about the advances in different fields, and the strife it has caused all over the world, more I am convinced it has reduced the living to objects. By adding the three words Darwin has separated Creator from life.

I believe that life – Life – is larger than all the religions and philosophies, arts and sciences, forget the trades and the technologies, of all the ages and places; life is not a four-letter word. I believe that life is larger than all the gods the humanity has invented in all the ages.

How would anyone explain the birth of Sri Ganesh in modern vocabulary? Is he a clone? Did he receive his elephant head in a transplant operation?

On reading, ‘the “Information Challenge” turns out to be none other than our old friend: “How could something as complex as an eye evolve?’ (p. 102), I quote my verse ‘Oldie’s Secret’ here:

Oldie's Secret or Design by Evolution

If any talk of Oldie comes, ‘I’ quits.
This Person is pretty slow in our times.
Now see! How long did Oldie take
to design Homo sapiens, who is thriving on
the fruit of wisdom from Garden of Eden?
Now we are living sure fast life.
Instant food. Instant image. Instant Dolly.
Inflated ego. Inflated market. Inflated houses,
Such as, London – New York – Tokyo – Singapore,
taking farther the metropolitan culture,
taking over from the British Isles, turning faster
the Garden of Gaia, than ever before,
into a perpetual desert to last forever.
Cleverly we build ‘Ark of Genes’ to prepare
for man-made catastrophe, while we continue
to destroy ugly Oldie’s ugly designs.
Thoughtful or crazy Oldie the designer
be to evolve our nose and ears in pair
To carry our proud spectacles, and eyeballs
to wear contact lenses. But Oldie’s secret
and tantrum remain elusive to our vision.

(3 February 2002)

Darwinism or Evolutionism or Judeo-Christian Creationism: why worry? We – the humans – are just speck in haystack: Just be Happy. It’s high time, though civilisation hasn’t progressed much in 5000 years, to wonder at and Love the Life!
Remigius de Souza
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Remigius de Souza

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Self-portrait & Profile

Tentacles: Self-portrait by Remigius de Souza
Profile: Remigius de Souza

Remigius de Souza doesn’t prefer to identify himself with any occupation or profession, trade or creed, place or people, class or caste; and considers his name is only an address.

Born in Konkan, nursery school was his homestead, where grasses, bushes, woods were in abundance, where rich wild life moved sang danced freely, where he sucked honey drops from the Adulasa flowers.

At formative years he grew up on paddy farms. While learning by working – experiencing organic farming, spinning cotton and handloom weaving, adobe–abode building and its maintenance, side by side, he pursued literacy in vernacular at the public school at his native village, free i.e. at public cost.

He completed his architectural education at Mumbai in due course, but walked away from the qualifying exams on the first day, only to return after nine years to finish it successfully.

Meanwhile he worked in architects’ offices in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. For seven years he worked on the Development Plan, Town Planning Schemes and Urban Designs for the City of Vadodara (Baroda).

He then moved to Mumbai, and has been self-employed practicing architecture, mostly for institutions and NGOs in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

For about a decade he had been a visiting faculty and theses/ dissertation guide in the colleges of architecture in Mumbai. During this time he did some experiments in education and conducted workshops.

He researches and writes on education, architecture, housing, planning, environment, and conservation etc., reviews events and books, and compiles compositions in ‘verse-like’ format that is generally called poetry, which are occasionally published. He has also presented papers at conferences.

Time to time, over decades, he has been moving, living and/or working in villages, cities, towns, deserts, forests, ravines and ruins.

His major education comes from the countrywide open classroom. He spent one-half life in rural India and one-half in urban areas.

He believes, Environment, Ecology and Energy are closely interrelated and should not be put in separate compartments.

Remigius believes:
"Srishtiyoga" -- Way of Nature – is an ancient unwritten law
long before the birth of civilization.
Civilizations have been following
a number of Yoga practices, from Jnan Yoga – Vijnan Yog
to Karma Yoga – Bhakti Yoga to Hatha Yoga – Tantra Yoga.
People in the Vedic times or in the Garden of Eden
were perhaps blessed with plentiful of water and fruits.
It is only our wishful thinking that we sing
“Sujalam, Sufalam” - abundant water, abundant fruits
– that falls short of action.
It is time now for ‘Srishtiyoga’ – Reunion with Nature.
Remigius de Souza

Friday, 12 October 2007

My "Sri Ganesh"

My "Sri Ganesh"

Remigius de Souza

“SRI GANESH” here means “a beginning” in our languages. I did my Sri Ganesh in education by experiential learning at my native place in Konkan. We kids played with soil, lived with soil, worked with soil. We grew up on the paddy fields and woods. That was our K.G. school. Konkan has been rich in biodiversity of plants and animals. It still is.

I also did my “Sri Ganesh” in clay modelling during my primary school education. A teacher had rented a house nearby when he was transferred to the school. He made modest number of Ganesh idols in clay for the forthcoming festival. I used to visit his workshop, there in the large open veranda of the house. I would quietly sit observing. Whenever asked I would do the errands such as, whitewashing the statues etc. for him. Sometimes I was given a fistful of clay to play with. I used to make a sparrow, a cat, a lamp, a whistle etc. out of the same lump.

I also participated, as a helper, in the building work of our mud house, from foundation to roof. Of course, in villages, farming, house or temple or well or road building had been a work of community participation for generations, until now. Hence the user – the householder or the community – had autonomy in decision making. Being a child I was exposed to various skills, learnt some by working: it is a lifelong process for any art or craft – farming, masonry, woodwork, bamboo work, pottery, smithy etc.

I don’t know how “Sri Ganesh” acquired the meaning “a beginning”; some people though begin their work by invoking the blessings of Sri Ganesh. There is a story of how Ganesh was born. His mother Sri Parvati was going to take bath. Nobody was around, so she removed dirt from her skin and made a model and put life into him, and told him to be on guard while she takes bath. That dirt is sweat and soil (waters and land) that was added with Life: the emergence of Sri Ganesh.

Later I did a short course in clay modelling in the department of sculpture with Shankar Kanade at Sir J. J. School of Art. We studied under Prof. Manjarekar. Principal Dhond, the dean was kind to give us the admission. We were studying in the final year of architecture.

When I was a visiting faculty at college of architecture, I introduced the use of clay as a material to study the Basic Design and Building Design in the first year, but not without a stiff resistance from the peer. Their argument was working with clay in the studio will make the place dirty. Perhaps they were unaware that many sculptors all over the world did their sketches also in clay.

At other time, I was working for a NGO on a project to give new houses to the Katkari Tribe in Raigad District near Mumbai. I had proposed to use clay blocks for walls made by hand operated machine. I even got three sample house made. It was even sanctioned by the Union Government Agency. Here too I met a stiff resistance from some of the personnel within and well wishers of the NGO, which, of course, is run by the elite urbanite.

Apparently it seems the urban / urbanized elite are divorced from the nature, land and waters, and treat them as commodities. To restore this contact is the only way to mend the breach or the divide between rural and urban people.

Why do villagers – in rural or urban areas, and those who have roots in the past, love Sri Ganeshso much? Even though there is so much progress, and with that the meanings are getting lost, and even though I was converted to Christianity, our roots are not yet lost. The agrarian society has close bond with land, water and life.



Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA

Monday, 8 October 2007

My native place: Konkan

My native village in Konkan is situated in one of the biodiversity hot-spots of the world. It has lost much of its diversity in the past six decades...

View Larger Map


The Google map facilitates to see the natural environment at different scales. The place in the map could be moved up and down and sideways with mouse-courser. The landscape has shaped the culture of the place and people. Konkan is a biodiversity hot spot on the world map, now getting depleted.
Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Dancing Ganesh

“Ganesh”, Lingaraj Temple (c. 1000), Bhuvaneshwar, Orissa:
Graphic by Remigius de Souza, Pencil on paper (7.00” x 10.00”)

Dancing Ganesh

Ganesh in this graphic is of a deep relief carved in stone, on the side wall of Lingaraj Temple. He is larger than full (human) size. While watching the sculpture I was so moved that for a moment I felt Ganesh was moving: I called him “Dancing Ganesh”.

There, of course, are number of dancing Ganesh statues in metals, stone, ivory, wood, glass, and now mass produced in synthetic materials. The folk artists have made them in clay in great numbers. For the annual Ganesh festivals, the folk artists make the clay idols for generations that may count in thousands of tens of thousand.

This very action, of making an idols in clay by pouring their soul, heart and labour by the folk artist, bringing the idols home by the devotees, living with Ganesh, bidding farewell chanting ‘O, Ganesh, come next year soon’, and finally the immersion of the idols in water, is like singing and dancing in eternity. One can’t catch the mystery of this action in words or reproduction in a movie.

The whole action described above is not like a copy in CD/DVD of dance and music or on a cinema or TV screen. The original graphic is in pencil on paper, which after decades has yellowed, shall crumble. What we see on the monitor screen is not the real one; it’s dead; it’s magic.

This action dates back in antiquity. In the backyard of Mumbai, the Warli tribe worships their “Vaghdev” – tiger god, where the older idol is replaced every generation (See: Warli Housing and Art). Strange it may seem to compare with the ancient traditions of Ganesh or Vaghdev with the peasants’ action in farming: they prepare an entire year for the season to sow seeds, care and cultivate the farm, and then comes harvesting. Then the next cycle begins. The three are synonymous, which is beyond and above faith, belief or religion.

Dancing Devotees

VATSALA BHOJANE, a young daughter of Janaki-mami and Zilu-mama, was my neighbour next door at my native village. She was called Vachcha. Every Ganesh festival she would sing and dance before Sri Ganesh at another neighbour’s house. She would lead other women, and they danced in circle. We children huddled around against walls of “Majghar” – living room. Women and girls also played “Fugadi”, “Zimma”, “Kombada”, which are vigorous dances, before Ganesh.

These have been my memorable nights, and days. There was no electricity then. In the quiet light of the vegetable oil lamps, along with the dancing women, their shadows also danced on the lime washed mud walls. Vatsala’s melodious voice would filter through the adobe abodes and plants in the neighbourhood in the quiet of the night. We never realised when the midnights passed.

Vatsala, in her songs, recited mythological stories of Damayanti–Nal, Shankuntala–Dushyant, and Raja Harishchandra etc. I don’t know from whom, from where she got these songs, or whether she composed them on the spot, which is likely, like the thousands of folk artists all over the country. There were no books of these songs.

Her voice has been the most melodious I ever heard. I don’t compare the popular and celebrated singer Lata Mangeshkar, because I have heard her only on the loudspeakers and electronic gadgets. She, being a woman from the elite class, has her own place. I heard the late Pundit Kumar Gandharv live (without loudspeaker). Kumar Gandharv and Vatsala, both are unique. Kumar Gandharv has acknowledged her status, though indirectly, by listening to the folk singers of Malava for years, when he was forbidden to sing.

Like Vatsala’s voice, her skin had lustrous healthy shine on dark tan colour. I have often heard her singing popular Marathi songs from plays and cinemas. But she never sang those pop songs before the deity. Well, there was no radio or gramophone in our village then. Once in a year or two a passing circus or touring talkies or a touring theatre group would camp near a market place, when we heard the records of songs on their loudspeakers run on a generator.

Does Vatsala continue to sing at her ripe age? Though I don’t know, I am sure she does wherever she is. It is intrinsic in her nature to sing and dance. Do her children or grand children inherit her gift? Or are they caught up in the dragnet of Bollywood–Indipop music album pop-songs like those in the cities?

One of Vatsala’s brothers played flute. Vatsala, her sisters and brothers have been literate and like their parents, hardworking peasants. They cultivated their small farm holding. The yard and the live hedge around their house were full of various flower, fruit and medicinal plants, like other peasants.

There are millions like Vatsala, who are gifted in various arts and crafts, who enrich the living of the community members with such joys and comforts, far away from the market. Would they survive the onslaught of the parasite that is market? How long could they resist it?

Vatsala, perhaps, is the last link of the chain of meme pool – the mother’s mother, her mother’s, and her mother’s… legacy – from where she received her talent and the songs! I remember the “African Eve” hypothesis.
The change, which is taking place to convert the cohesive community to decadent modern mass society, is neither Darwinian Evolution nor the Supreme being’s Creation but Market Explosion grafted by the ruling minority of the First World India, and their colonial masters – the British baniyas, and the neo-colonial masters. It obviously spreads from urban centres to rural areas.

Ganesh festival, like Durga Puja in Bengal (now West Bengal), comes at the end of monsoon, when it is time for harvest. Indian festivals coincide with seasons. These are days for leisure for the peasants in Indian agrarian society, who work hard throughout the year. They rejuvenate the peasants’ strength and courage for the new beginning. People follow lunar calendar, not Gregorian calendar, which though is officially recognised.

Benevolent Sri Ganesh

People in Konkan, my native place, have faith, which does not deny effort, in Sri Ganesh. For example, a woman, who has no child, invokes Ganesh, ‘if blessed with a child she will dance naked before him’. Romantic may it sound, it means shed entire ego. The peasants, however, worked hard instead of waiting for the boon – of child or harvest. A Marathi movie “Navara maza navasacha” – literally “My husband born blessed” (by Sri Ganesh of Ganapatipule, a pilgrim place in Konkan) – is produced based on this faith. Isn’t it better to have faith in a deity rather than even a most trusted leader or authority in politics, religion, statesmanship, science, technology, economy etc.?

Whatever, Evolution or Creation, the modern scientists may believe, Sri Ganesh is super real. He is neither reality in the society nor virtual reality of the animated computer games. When the modern scientists create a clone, Dolly, it is merely magic.

There are many legends, myths, and stories about Sri Ganesh. One of them goes thus:
Sage Vyas wanted a writer to take dictation of epic Mahabharata. Someone suggested about Sri Ganesh. He agreed on a condition that the sage must dictate non-stop. Vyas put a counter condition that Ganesh must not write anything without absorbing the meaning or without understanding it.

Epic Mahabharata is timeless. The myths have enduring meanings for all ages, whether one believes in this God or that God or does not believe in God except the Dogmas that mushroom now and then fade away.

The above myth has a message even for this age of information bombardment and fanaticism of every kind – religious, secular, scientific and technological, regional or territorial chauvinism; for every occupation and profession, experts and specialists. There is no superior or inferior culture. Peasants, who cultivate their farms, do so at highest risk, know better without being verbose about it: the reasons may be their way of living is holistic way with the element of contemplation. It also tells that people – peasants or prime ministers – must absorb and understand before accepting any theory or hypotheses or nuclear energy or whatever, without faith or belief.


In the mid-1950s when I came to Mumbai, there were public Ganesh festivals. Tilak initiated them during the Independence Movement to motivate people to take the public platform. I saw, then, besides “Bhajans” and “Kirtans”, there used to be plays, poetry reading, music recitals, mock parliament etc. Lata Mangeshkar used give a recital at her former house at Nana Chowk.

Now in fifty years it has all changed. Now the records or CDs of devotional – Indipop – pop-cinema songs are constantly relayed on loudspeakers throughout the day until 10.00 pm. No Bhajans. No Kirtans. No Fugadi. No Zimma. Now there are mass produced Plaster Of Paris (POP) Ganesh idols. Now there are more and more public festivals, and more and more new communities /people join the traditional devotees. Now there are sponsors from trade-market-industrial houses, besides the residents of the neighbourhood. More and more commercialisation!

Mumbai (30-09-2007)
Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Third side of coin

by Remigius de Souza

Third side of coin:

Aesthetics, Ethics and Economics

‘Two sides of coin’ is a common idiom in currency. ‘Aesthetics’ and ‘ethics’ could be the two sides of occupation, profession or vocation of architecture, or others. Yet there is a third side – the ‘edge’ – that is personal or collective on which the coin rolls or spins.
Economic currency in aesthetics of architecture, or built environment, in the capitalist society is a visible factor. Larger the currency denomination lesser is the edge. Hence a person or an establishment may strive to fatten the wad to gain the edge, where both the esthetic and ethical values diminish in reverse proportion that results in madness.

FLW’s mile high ego
Casts the shadow...

A missed target of 9/11.
Where do the pigeons dwell?

(14 October 2004)

(Mile high Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Source: Google Image)

Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Sanjay Dutt’s adversity

by Remigius de Souza

Sanjay Dutt’s adversity

Adversities also bring new or unknown opportunities. Sanjay Dutt has been acting and entertaining Bollywood box-office and masses. He also has been providing spicy stories to media time to time.

I wouldn’t judge his Bollywood career in virtual reality; it is judged by the box-office bottom-line, which is reality. As for his TADA, or whatever, case, the judgment has been delivered, or is awaited further hearing. Hence no Bollywood-style sentimental melodrama needed.

As an actor, I suppose, he is an artist in his own right. Many artists are rotting in jails, in many countries, even without trial, for their work of art which has humanitarian value. There are many instances of prisoners, from M.N. Roy to Sane Guruji, who turned out literature from the jails. A criminal such as Jean Genet, who is also called Saint Genet, became an acclaimed writer. Remember Sage Valmiki!

In the jail, Dutt will be provided with work, wages, food and shelter; which are denied to the millions of people outside, here in India – either by fate or by the state. Dutt is lucky.

How to turn the adversity – an imprisonment – into an opportunity? It is in the Dutt’s hands.

So far, Sanjubaba has been acting according to direction and talking the script. If accessible, Dutt may have an advantage of first hand experience by real contact of various criminals, from petty to hardcore, and witness their dispositions. Besides the jail may offer him some time to reflect or contemplate.

Hopefully it may be an opportunity for Sanjubaba to grow up in real whorl, and grow beyond acting “Bhaigiri” and “Gandhigiri” in virtual world, where even Gandhibaba speaks Munnabhai’s dialect. Indeed who or how any of the casts of “Lage raho Munnabai” is touched by Gandhi?

We all know that Dutt’s mother was Muslim. Hence, it is possible that all Muslims could be “Mamus” and Hindus be his “Chachus”. In real life, with his resources, his celebrity status, his fan-following, Dutt could become a great bridge to achieve communal amity between Hindus and Muslims. It is time, rather than brand Gandhigiri, by his own “Sanjugiri”, we are sure, Sanjay Dutt might work wonders. Of course, to be oneself is harder than imitation or role-playing because one is answerable to oneself in the first place.

I reflect for a moment

With my statement above, indeed, I am exposed!
What if I, whoever, whatever, vanish from the face of the earth?
What if Gandhi – Nehru are no more?
What if the billionaire become paupers overnight in the Depression of 1930s?
What if several villages flattened in the earthquake of Bhuj?
What if two lakhs mill workers and eight lakhs of their dependants deprived of their livelihood by the closure of textile mills in Mumbai?
What if Harappa - Mohenjo-Daro are buried several times in the Earth?
What if the megalometropolis Angkor Wat vanishes?
What if a few hundred die in terrorist attacks?
So on and on and on…
What if Bollywood vanishes from the face of the earth? People wouldn’t loose a moment of wink. They shall find their own alternatives for much needed leisure – not the elitist pop-art but the revival of folk-arts, once relieved from costly entertainment market!!!

A Gond poem, from Central India

What is man’s body? It is a spark from the fire
It meets water and it is put out.
What is man’s body? It is a bit of straw
It meets fire and it is burnt out.
What is man’s body? It is a bubble of water
Broken by the wind.
(Re: Jaffrey Wainwrite, “The Basics: Poetry, Routledge, 2004)


Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243, S. B.Marg, Mumbai 400028 India

Thursday, 6 September 2007

A far cry – Voice in Wilderness

A far cry – Voice in Wilderness

Remi steers his alfa-craft from his alpha point
through the maze of hurdles endless
while trying the turns takes hurts and bruises
in the urbanity of chaotic wilderness
that live on perpetually on the external aids,
that sucks the energy from every molecule
of water, air and soil to choke life to the hilt.
On his way – any moment may be his omega point –
Remi seeks some tranquillity, some peace
in solitude. Alas! No solace.


(Society – urbanity – city is a work of only the human hands.
Mumbai has witnessed, within a span of few decades, mass killings of humans. In the 1960s, 105 persons were shot dead by the Government of Maharashtra, during the agitation of the unarmed citizens who protested against the proposed formation of the state. In the 1990s, several events of terrorism and riots, including a riot by police who went on rampage, took place. These are apart from the reported or unreported cases of crime, epidemics, house-collapse road accidents etc. besides the pollution of every kind – social, political, economic, environmental and ecological.)


Remigius de Souza
Post Mail: 69-243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400028, INDIA

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Kabir and Industrial Society

Kabir and Industrial Society

by Remigius de Souza

Kabir says (circa 1500):

Sun sinks, day fades,
dusk has fallen.
From screwing too many lovers,
the whore is barren.

(The Bijak of Kabir, Trans: Linda Hess and Sukhdev Singh, Motilal Baneasidas,Delhi., p. 94)
An event in 1950s

“Why the prostitutes don’t have children?” A boy asked his grandmother.
“On a pathway there is no grass, because many people walk on it.” She replied.

A college mate, who came from a small town nearby Mumbai, told us this event. The old woman, like Kabir, was perhaps even illiterate. But that’s Indian mind, not that of the industrial society.

An event in 1960s

“Institutes are prostitutes.” — Louis Kahn
The late Louis Kahn, architect, often visited to his project, “Indian Institute of Management that was under construction in Ahmedabad. Once during his lecture at the National Design Institute, he said, ‘Institutes are prostitutes’. P. S. Rajan, architect and one of our contemporaries, at once stood up and asked, ‘Then why do you teach at Penn?’ Kahn was very angry at the question or perhaps the interruption.

We are now accustomed to the intrusion of various institutions in our personal and collective autonomy that we never question.

An event in 1990s

“Take a baby off the shelf.”
We were at the faculty’s common room during a break. The talk among the professors was drifting from practice to getting married to career to ‘have or not to have babies’… Then some one said “Take a baby off the shelf”, as if picking up a toy. These women and men belong to elite profession, most of them had travelled abroad or educated in the US or Europe.

Qualitatively there is no difference between the statements of the old women and Kabir.
The reference point is “culture”. After five hundred years, or even after fifty years, what Kabir says, or what the old woman said, is still relevant. Though Kabir refers to a woman who is a prostitute, in the present global circumstances it applies to the industrial society, wherever it exists. The pimps and prostitution are now prevalent in almost all occupations and trades, even though under different garbs, in the industrial society.

There are no prostitutes and prostitution in many communities, particularly adivasis – the tribal. Prostitution is a feature of civilised societies. Now the elite identify the prostitutes as “sex-workers”, thus legitimise the flesh trade. This, of course, is shameless hypocrisy of the high society or the elite class.

As I quote Kabir, who is illiterate, above, it is obligatory on my part to mention the translator. How far am I enlightened by Kabir? It is a matter of speculation?

Sowing seeds of hybrid culture

The industrial society behaves as if it has no posterity.
Hybrid seeds of food grains came later. By then industrialization had successfully bred the hybrid culture through the assembly lines of mass education to produce mass society in the First World, now known as the ‘virtual global village’. The result: hybrid culture, like hybrid seeds, has no second/third generation, no posterity, no community.

With technological advances when sex-change, genetic modification, surrogates father/mother, clones etc are possible, sex and gender loose their sheen, of course, in the industrial societies. What remains is the colonisation of the weaker and poor classes and communities by the egocentric elite a sheer greed for possession and power, by giving charities.

Take for example. The farmers in India have been committing suicides for some time and elsewhere peasants are displaces for the development projects. The only thing the government can do is to distribute cash dole, but no sharing the skills in finance and technologies relevant to them.

No wonder, for the likes of the Gandhi, the Schumacher… there are no takers on the assembly lines, no germination either. They rest in archives, except for the ‘quotes’ in the discourses, a part of the past such as, socialism, radical humanism, modern, post-modern, Art Nouveau, construction, deconstruction… but no action. As is this article.

Kabir refers her not to a woman but to the whole society, with its many loves, is out to destroy the insects, the “other” people, ethnic communities and aborigines, biodiversity on one side and talk-talk-talk about “climate change”, which might lead to the devices “to control power and add to the profit” further. It is leaving the Earth barren.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Who is the giver? Who is the receiver? [1]

On 60 years of India's Independence:

Navi Mumbai Development Plan

Who is the giver? Who is the receiver? [1]

(Poem written on 23-02-1997: I was writings a review of a workshop, "The Idea of New Town, Looking at Navi Mumbai". While writings I was stuck for many reasons. One of them was the stalwarts in architecture and planning from India and abroad attended the workshop. Sant Tukaram came to my help, and I composed the following poem. On the occasion of 60th Anniversary of India I re-publish it. )

Oh Vitthala*, while you stand steadfast
On a single brick, the foundation bestowing
Courage and joy through Gyanoba-Tukoba*:
There is no beginning – no end.

On the threshold of Third Millennium
Of "English" calendar, what are a few decades
Of life of New Delhi, Chandigarh, or New Mumbai
But specks of dust in a hay stack?
We have lived through cities thousand years old.

The sperms of Navi Mumbai were laid in an incubator
By an industrial corporate body, legitimized
By the CIDCO* of Swadeshi Raj here
Of your beloved Maharashtra and of the displaced.

Oh Vithoba1, your beloved people of India
Are blessed by Mother Earth for millennia,
Living in million villages, who nurtured and helped
To sustain cities of Gods, kings and Nawabs.

In the age of rape of Mother Earth
And ecological-cultural subjugation of the sons of soil,
Pushed them to the brink, to make a fast buck
While the sun shines, through manufacture and market;
The machine does not make maize neither milk.

Corporations know not "boundaries", – neither of values
Nor culture, – Their tentacles reach afar
Under different garbs and masks anew;
What are the new towns across the continents
In the name of urbanism – yet another mask?

Swarms of corporate locust devouring resources
In decades, what had been plentiful for millions
Of living entities for centuries, to leave behind
“Holes in the sky". City planners are by-products.

We witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima-
Nagasaki, calamities-man-made with impact;
the shudder of earth that reduced Kobe to debris.

You hold aloft Kedarnath – Kashi – Kanyakumari
Through the times of turmoil, age after age.
Bhagiratha4 brought Mother Ganga to revive
His five thousand ancestors in peril.

In the age of annihilation unsurpassed
His offspring struggle to survive in numbers.
Will the sons of soil survive or perish?
Oh, Vitthala, Give your holy verdict.

In the era of contraception - condoms - abortions,
The steel-glass-concrete jungles of modern towns
Are sprouting, sprawling, swelling, multiplying
To celebrate triumph of "Post-historic-Man".
Will New Town, living a hybrid life on life saving
Drugs, shall be or not be an abortion?

Desperate planners are gripped in two-three dimensions
When Newtonian Age passed away hither thither;
In spite of revelation of Time and Eternity;
And half-truth of second law of thermodynamics.

Tied to a mill of self-cantered ego, they go in rounds
Endless, locked in cells. Will some glimpse liberate them?
Oh Vithoba*, It is time again to release Vishwakarma*
from the bondage of Indra*, we pray.

We recite the past, or speculate the future in mechanical
Actions; run into political impotency;
when confronted to the Present, take refuge
of numbers in perpetuity, dividing, sieving, grading,
degrading the humanity at the cost of creativity.

Now the "Bhasmasura"* of modern technology is let loose
Shattering the ancient limits only to defile and displace
Land and Waters, to eliminate the living entities.
New Towns offer man a life of hydroponics.

His tentacles reach deeper and wider through his weapon –
"The Cities" – to bring slow death to regions afar without impact.
Oh Vithoba, heed to our invocation to give us Insight
Into the Present, the People, the Life, the Nature's Way.

At the end of second millennium, they struggle
In the narrow compartments of 2D – 3D to establish
Credibility; offer the urbanites "New Town Neurosis"
They are yet to awaken to hyperspace;
How could the planners be Visionary?

Architecture is poet's imagination to serve
The two in hundred of the world;
Planning demands vision in Universal Truth
Of a sage – of a humble farmer – who lives
In the timeless eternal NOW.

* * * *
Remigius de Souza

* Vitthala, Vithoba: Most venerated deity in Maharashtra (an incarnation of Vishnu).
* Gaynoba - Tukoba: Jnaneshwar and Tukaram are saint-poets of Maharashtra, India.
* CIDCO: City and Industrial Development Corporation, Maharashtra State, India.
* Bhagiratha: a character from Mahabharata.
* Vishwakarma, Indra, Bhasmasura: characters from Puranas. Bhasmasura is similar to Midas in the western mythology. However end of Bhasmasura comes reducing him ashes by his own folly, which is inevitable. There is no room for repentance.

(This poem was written on the occasion of the Workshop - "The Idea of New Town: Looking at Navi Mumbai", held at Coomaraswamy Hall, Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai on 21-22 February 1997.)

Remigius de Souza

Friday, 27 July 2007

Of Titles and Awards

Of Titles and Awards
Space-time frame and beyond

It may suit
Rushdie to receive knighthood,
Tagore to accept Nobel Prize,
Sartre to reject Nobel Prize,
Remi − an unknown entity −
to reject conferred credibility
by feudal (slave) mentality,
within their space-time frame.

Tukaram, who returns the royal gifts
to King Shivaji, is beyond space-time.

Adivasis, rich in art of sustenance,
have no scriptures, no discourses,
until now, since time unknown: timeless.

(Tukaram: Saint-poet of Maharshtra India; Adivasi: the tribal or the aborigines)

Remigius de Souza
69-243 S B Marg, Mumbai 400028 India

Monday, 16 July 2007

Collecting cow dung for Energy 3

Collecting cow dung for Energy 3

Cow dung cakes as Fuel
This is familiar site anywhere in Rural India. After burning these flat cakes, even the ashes never go waste.

(Key Words: Industrial society. This phrase is commonly used for: developed society, The First World, elite society, the classless society, etc.)

Collecting cow dung walking barefoot in the fields during my childhood gave me some immunity in the times to come. The sound of the silence in the expanse of the landscape is extraordinary; no agoraphobia though. It was not only physical but also mental (social) immunity, particularly when I migrated to Mumbai. I could see through the glamorous veil of the urban society.

The youthful fascination about the waves of trends, fashions and fads, and information bombardment coming in hordes through market forces, in words, beyond words, in images, even though they might have come from the so-called leaders, heroes, celebrities and authorities, didn’t last long. I could see beyond their face value. Once, a classmate, from a high caste and high class, called me a “tramp”.

During my teens I had listened J. Krishnamurti’s lecture series at the campus of Sir J. J. School of Arts. His “freedom from the known” surely impressed me. Though he had renounced “institution”, ironically, he ended with several institutions started in his name, during his life time. While Tukaram, the saint-poet of Maharashtra, had made deep impact, it was the adivasis – the tribal – who brought about the transformation in my way of living.

I visited the tribal communities in some parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. I outreached the ancient people as a humble pupil. I didn’t carry any civilised credentials, likes-dislikes, judgements, or a platform of my status.

My dress didn’t matter; the tribal are intelligent to look beyond the dress-code. That is, I never visited them as a tourist in the search of the exotic, or as a scholar, or an anthropologist, or not even as a do-gooder.

I have been looking at them, their houses and habitat, and how they sustain. Their lack of materials wealth – call it ‘poverty’ if you wish according to your standards – has been by choice. One of their characteristics is the wise use of energy with moderation. Now, the poverty is inflicted upon them, by exploiting them and their natural habitat that is their homestead by the successive civilised societies and now by the industrial society.

Energy, and its sources and consumption in any form and for any purpose, directly affect the ecology and environment of Land (and Waters), air, people and life at large. Since the rise of industrial society, the issue of energy has taken a form of global war beyond the peoples and places.

During the war in the Middle East, the oil tanks in Kuwait were bombarded and soot from the burning oil landed upon the peaks of Himalayas, and the black ice polluted the rivers of Punjab. Who is answerable for the global environmental, ecological and energy losses?

Those who produce the devices of energy production and consumption and those who use and consume them, both, it seems now, are not bound by any moral, ethical, or legal obligation to connect the production of devices and consumption of energy, to the environment and ecology, and to regulate them accordingly; their only obligation, in the name of development, is to promote power, monopoly, trade and profit for the benefit of the invisible rulers – the capitalist – of the industrial society.

To cover up this immorality and unethical practices, they have created myths such as, sovereignty, free market, monopoly, globalisation, national security, liberalisation, research, development, privatisation…, and “population explosion”, whether by proxy or by state consent. They use these myths as tentacles to feed insatiable greed of the invisible ruler.

Of course, who could doubt the social sensibility/response-ability, and historical perspective, of those who occupy the high places of power and authority in the societal and institutional hierarchies, the so-called, the self-ordained, or by appointment, or the elected by the popular vote, in different fields – education, religion, politics, sciences…, at micro or macro levels? Who could doubt their imagination, perceptions, creativity, vision and intellect?

However, I wonder, could they match the ‘intelligence’ of the aborigines, who continue to sustain despite the plunder of their habitat by the powerful, the civilized and the so-called advanced societies and continue in defiance to the forces of the capitalist powers, until now?

Of course, they remain deeply embedded in their bubble of alter ego. Sitting in their plush compartments, with the blinkers of their respective departments put on, they are divorced from the land (and waters), air, people and life at large. To assume powers and to rule they have fragmented land, waters, people, and turned the persons into split personalities and the cohesive communities into zombies of decadent mass-society. This is neither accountability nor governance, neither democracy nor progress.

The industrial society, though it may claim to be modern, developed, progressive, has its roots in, and is the outgrowth of the feuds (kings, emperors, sultans…) of the past: the old wine in a new bottle, named and most celebrated sugar-coated capsule, “leader” or “leadership”.

The modern education too has its roots in the Christian monastic seminaries, or Islamic madrasas as some may claim, is inevitably dogmatic. On its assembly lines of mass production, it grooms its candidates in the new faith i.e., industrialization. Education is its powerful weapon to catch them young.

Another weapon is architecture as built environment in its larger context, in its entire gamut, from lock-stock-and-the barrel to regional planning, is one of the highest consumer of the fossil fuel energy and other resources of the earth.

Architecture, whether modern or humble vernacular of the tribal or shanties in the slums of Mumbai, is a primary commodity that touches the core of human existence, though it enjoys the status of high art. The tribal abode so far ad its natural habitat as its homestead. In contrast, modern architecture is a by-product of industrialisation born in city. And city is a symbol of centralised power.

With its new avatar as megalopolis – the global city – is an icon of immense centralised power; it footprint stamps across the continents and the oceans. Though is an obsolete form human habitat in the new age, it continues because its very foundation is denial of equity, freedom and democracy.

Architecture, from its education to execution, is manoeuvred by the powers in the industrial society, regardless of hazards it may cause to human lives. Though it manipulates the core of the inhabitants’ lives, the user has no say.

It keeps the masses mesmerised about the greatness of bygone civilisations and the defunct empires through its propaganda machinery. It glorifies the feudal icons of architecture of the past such as, from the Great Pyramid to Taj Mahal, or the recent move to select “seven new wonders of the world”.

We have heard about the destruction of the great library of Alexandria in a war some centuries ago. Humanity did not loose even a wink on its loss, except perhaps the pundits, the so-called pillars of culture! Great civilisations and empires have vanished, but people do prevail. It is anybody’s guess that the days of industrial civilisation are also numbered. Those who do not learn the lessons from the present – from what is now, how could they learn anything from the bygone past?
It is anybody’s guess that the days of the industrial civilisation are also numbered. It will collapse by its strength, not weakness.
As Teodor Shamin, a sociologist, says, ‘The modern economy needs only about a quarter of the global workforce. The other three-quarters are engaged in survival through the informal economy' (Fred Pearce, ‘How the other half live’ (Interview), New Scientist, 3 August 2002, p. 45-47). Those who do not learn the lessons from the present – from what is, how could they learn anything from the bygone past?
We see this, capitalist economy –parallel economy – black economy – state-run economy besides informal economy taking place right here in Mumbai, the financial capital of the country. The informal economy helps to sustain nearly 80 to 90 percent people of India.
However, the industrial society continues to raise, and raze, the debris of modern icons: mass housing, mega-industries, mega-malls, stadiums, cities…, and now in India, the special economic zones (SEZs). However, no one knows their survival rate, and their environmental-ecological-energy price, cost, value and benefit to 800 million people of agrarian society of India?

India, now, is on the march to use nuclear energy for peaceful purpose, unmindful of her billion plus human energy. Could those who have gone through the trauma of Chernobyl disaster forget their experience? While we can’t manage the waste disposal of our mega-cities, how shall manage the nuclear waste? Or take the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It is the people who suffer who have no say in any project carried out in the name of common good and/or economic growth.

Whether it is so-called clean nuclear energy, or limited fossil-fuel energy, of benign renewable energy, its overuse, abuse or misuse cannot be without social fallout. Even an emotion is energy that could result in a work of art, or a terrorist act.

New Age Pyramids
Industrial society at global level is building the
projects in different countries, to unlock the secrets of universe, these are
new age pyramids. ‘They are made from tens of thousands of parts shipped from
every corner of the world. More than 5000 scientists, researchers and engineers
coming from different countries work on them. Some of the nine machines are:
  • Large Hadron Collider, near Geneva ($2.5 billion);
  • Earth Simulator, a fastest supercomputer, Japan ($430 million);
  • Cassini-Hygenns Torus, UK ($1.2 billion);
  • National Ignition Facility, California ($3.5 billion);
“Big” simply doesn’t do them justice (see: Valeri Jemieson, Monsters of the universe [Interview], New Scientist, August 26, 2004, 26-35).
I, being a layperson, can’t comprehend their functions, purposes, or theenergy they consume, so also that of the ancient pyramids which for me are simply tombs. I see the immediate success of these machines is Ladbrokes had started taking bets on the success of these machines from August 26, 2004 on its website: ― Money matters!
Needless to say, any experiment is subject to failure. I wonder, after the mighty British Empire how mightier (and faster) the new empire of industrial society is! Happily these new age pyramids will not last for another four thousand years, not even four generations. Thankfully the future generations will be spared from carrying some more burden of history. While collecting the shit of civilised society, urbanity and city, I fail to see ‘how to recycle it’ for the posterity.

Indeed, the industrial society, which may have reached a global level but is certainly not universal, operates through its vast army of zombies in every trade and occupation; the architects and planners are only a small number of morons.

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Remigius de Souza