Reviving the Here and Now

We, as human beings, are phototropic in nature. We are inherently attracted to light. Light in turn, i suspect, searches for us. It longs for us as we long for it. As the sun comes up in the morning, its light finds ways and means to percolate through the leaves of a tree. It finds ways to escape through the clouds, stream out from behind the mountains or rise out from in-between the tall apartments; pass through the windows in our homes and indiscriminately fall on our beds, our chairs, our desks, extending warmth to our inner beings.


One such morning, as i continued to walk towards my studio from the car parking, frequently checking my phone for messages, mails, news updates, and status updates, i heard the sparrows talk about, chirping around. It was rather an odd time to be able to hear them in a late winter morning like this. Perhaps the temperature had been too cold for them too, and the little warmth of the late morning gave them some spirit. What i realized was that not once did i lift my head up in an attempt to look at them, or, look for them. I was hooked down to my phone. And then, thinking of this, when i did look up, even the mild sun seemed harsh as it beamed through in-between the leaves. I realized how distant i was becoming from my surroundings.


Life in the time, age and place of today can be quite demanding. The pace of information and innovation is moving faster than our breathing, faster than the flicker of a moment. The smell of the mist on the grass, the music of the birds, the soothing and calming light of the dusk, the gentle embrace of the breeze, all if present, have no takers. Not here. But perhaps, elsewhere.


Fragmented, shattered and compressed by the forces of the life in a city, we find solace in distractions like traveling. This could be a physical travel or an imaginative or a meditative one, all equally real in their own ways. This travel is like a temporary escape to a similar world, of a world which moves at its own pace, where there is time to see, hear, smell, touch, taste and above all, contemplate.


But, as is usually the case with any travel, one must return home – to now and here.


Why must the now and here be not a moment of joy and ecstasy? Why the moment of here and now be so illusive that we don’t experience it? How would it be, if the place where we are at a given time, becomes the place of solace, of tranquility and calmness? Our distance from nature has made the longing for it even stronger. We desire the garden to be in our homes, the water stream to flow under our feet, the fragrances of blooming flowers to lift our spirits.


What is that could connect us back to nature by living and being part of the city life without the need of escaping from it? To always, and ever feel at home?


It is said that home is where the heart is. The heart beats to the rhythm of love. It is because of love, that our heart begins to build the home wherever we are. Being disjointed for long, it is not easy to build back a sustainable relationship with our environment. For this, it is important to inculcate the spirit of nurturing. Nurturing will come easily if we are guided by the spirit of Love. With Love, will come nearness. With nearness, the desire to care, to nurture, to live in harmony.


It is not without reason, that small fountains are finding more homes, the vertical gardens are becoming accessible trends, gardening websites are mushrooming, Indoor landscapes are in, the number of people taking in pets have risen, aquariums are now more often to be seen. The green is in, right into our built environment.


Design in architecture, landscape and interiors has a significant role to play in reviving the relationship between us and nature. One of the aspects of design is the attention it pays to the principle of Association: whatever we observe, becomes perception guided by what we associate the experience with – what we are reminded of when we see something.


We have all experienced this when we are making conscious decision in selecting something or are a witness to some event – a kettle may remind us of a penguin, the wooden legs of a chair may remind us of the feet of an Ox, the red tone of a fabric may remind us of an event in past, a mirror frame may seem to remind of a visit to a palace. As a process of design, all product and material producing companies base their products on these very associations when they make tiles look like stones or water or wood, or when laminates seek pattern and texture inspirations from plasters, metals, wood, mirrors; and plastics and paper get shapes-surfaces-prints to imitate quite realistically and in abstract all that can be found in natural materials, and so on and so on – each material trying to bring on some perceptual qualities of another material, with nature being the primary source of inspiration.


Bespoke design brings tailored responses of individualistic and specific design through collaborations with users. Architects and Interior Designers play on with the associations and bring in design choices and innovations. We can find a couple of boulders sitting in the living room, patterns of flowing water etched on an entire granite floor, a water pool with fish dug right into the floor, a garden wall growing in the balcony, a ledge under which birds can rest when it rains, a sitting space around a tree going out from the sky roof.


Thus, with the recognition of a growing need to revive the axis that connects us to nature, to our environment, to our experiences and to our imaginations, a two-fold path ensues – one an individual and personal path of nurturing, and the other to invent holistic habitats through professional collaborations with architects and designers.


Lets take a little walk down this path. Slow down our pace for a while, so that together we can see, hear, smell, touch, taste and imagine better. Perhaps with this, the here and now may begin to derive a new meaning.


– Rajat Kumar.