Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oh there are things to talk about

(Disclaimer: There is a genuine effort to keep intact as much as possible of the local ecology on the part of IISc during it's new construction/expansion. Change is inevitable, this post is merely about that inevitable consequence. Call it nostalgia and dismiss it.)

But right now I'm just a bit devoid of, shall I say, inspiration. It's usually very bad photography trying to chase an image of that one bird that has always eluded you by being quicker. You (or actually I in this case) get the perfectly sharp and well filled shot and you know it was silly and not worth it.

The elusive White browed bulbul
What I did not mind though was spending time in the Airfield, I never do. But now is particularly poignant, because come a few months there will be no Airfield. There will be something that is a shade of that beautiful place. It will be used more (by humans), disturbed more and already they are moving trees around (much like this).

Construction in new areas is necessary, I am told, and perhaps, maybe, not really, convinced. We need more land. Things need to go somewhere. It was inevitable, I had something (little) to do with the decisions on where it would happen. And yet it wrenches me a fair bit. I know, I know, IISc, is a research institute not a sanctuary / park(!). The priority is ...doo doo daah daah (cover my ears! run!). Call me a fool, I hate to see land use change especially from wild to otherwise. (Hum 'Big Yellow Taxi' to yourself.)

Moving trees
Anyhow, none of these dire predictions of mine may come to pass. And the Airfield now locked on all four sides by human habitation will still somehow remain the same. (All four sides? Go take a walk around it, you'll see what I mean. Past the faculty quarters over on the other side theres some clearing for something, my guess? A building!). Dogs won't be attracted to garbage, killing every thing in their path & fires won't be carelessly started. The Airfield won't turn into a drinking / goofing off / making out haunt littered with all our 'Fruity' tetra packs and carelessly tossed 'Fresh and honest coffee' paper cups and 'Ruffles Lays' and 'Will's navy cut' packs. And I won't be here to see it.

I really feel like a doom-sayer, like someone who is completely inimical to all progress and even sense. I don't want to be, this is merely my elegy for a well loved friend.

A surprisingly rare Red vented bulbul

I will as compensation for that non-post ask you to read this very good post about layers. No no, not photoshop layers....layers in you image, layers of meaning or even layers of interest...layers to keep your viewers occupied.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

It seems odd for IISc to want a bigger campus when there are vastly larger places like Columbia University functioning perfectly well from tiny campuses (32 acres in Columbia's case, vs 440 for IISc).

Of course the great thing about IISc is the greenery and ecology. So instead of sprawling horizontally, why not grow vertically? That way you gain space, have more energy-efficient buildings with nice views of the campus, and save the trees.

Here's a nice recent article by Germaine Greer on skyscrapers.

440 acres is plenty. Is Balaram serious when he wants double the size (880 acres?) IISc should use 40 acres for buildings (if it's good enough for Columbia, it's good enough for IISc) and leave the rest untouched.

Hm, maybe I should make a post of this rant.

Natasha Mhatre said...

I agree with you completely (for once!). In fact the original plan (drawn up by IISc faculty) was to demolish and construct in the same places, not opening any new areas up. And off course to build further up.

I'm not clear on why that plan was abandoned. But it was fairly early on. What messes, monstrosities and lawns will be made where the old buildings are demolished I don't know.

I've read the Greer article btw, I love that woman, even if I don't agree with her for that tone she seems to inject into her writing. Reminds me of Bette Davis. In my world, a good thing!

Rahul Siddharthan said...

And I was thinking "for once I agree with Germaine Greer"...

When we're all being so agreeable it's a sign the world is off-key.

Natasha Mhatre said...

Oh no no, I agree with her on that article, not on other things. I like her tone regardless! :)

I love Lucy said...
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I love Lucy said...

Beautiful pictures I must say!!

I have been to IISc dozens of times while doing my BE final year project but it didn't seem this pretty back then!


Natasha Mhatre said...

It is if you learn to look for it. Off course there is a lot of garbage as well :).

The good with the bad, like all places!

Natasha Mhatre said...

Rahul, One of the things thats different between IISc and Columbia, is we house everyone on campus, students, staff and faculty. That would account for some of the extra land needed and used.

That said I still think we don't build high enough to prevent lateral spread sufficiently. The new student hostels, faculty housing could have been higher rises...

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Columbia houses students and faculty off-campus, but very nearby (5 min walk away for the most part). I think nearly all the housing is located between Riverside Drive, Morningside Avenue, W 125 street, W 110 Street (probably a much smaller region than that). Even if one counts that entire area as "Columbia campus", it is a fraction the size of IISc's.

Plus, Columbia is a proper university, with 3000 faculty, 7000 undergraduate students, and several thousand graduate students and postdocs.

Similar things could be said of NYU (no campus as such, but one could call the area around Washington Square a "campus"), or other universities located in big cities. When IISc started out, Bangalore wasn't a big city; IISc should count itself lucky and optimise its space.

Natasha Mhatre said...

Ok, you have me there, I didn't know that. That's 10,000 + people, you sure they house them all? At any rate, off course you're right.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

The total student enrolment is 24000+, across all programs. I'm sure they don't house them all, but they do have lots of housing. I think a large fraction of students -- probably the majority of the non-professional degree students -- get university housing. (This is not true in many other universities, but New York is expensive...) I had several friends there, and my brother was a postdoc there, all of them had very nice housing. Their housing page is here, and by my count, the residence halls (undergraduate) can take about 4000-5000 students.

I just looked at a satellite view of IISc on Google Maps and it really looks dreadfully cluttered. They really need to think about renewing green spaces.

Natasha Mhatre said...

Hey Rahul, I found this post on Indic view and thought you'd enjoy it. It seems the future is up all the way!

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