Thoughts at the end of my second week

It’s Friday, the end of my second work week (and my ninth day) in Bangalore. When I got sick on Sunday and then the bombings in Mumbai happened, I didn’t update the way that I otherwise might have. Not a surprise… that’s what happens when you’re busy being somewhere. So let me cover a few highlights.

Last Friday, Archana invited me over to her flat for a get-together with some of her friends. Archana seems to be the connector to many things and people: her friends were just one hop away from projects or people I knew. Not surprisingly, she knows Jasmeen, who I’d been keen to meet (and had drafted an unsent email to her shortly before I left the US). She is a founder of the Blank Noise Project, which raises awareness about eve-teasing (the Indian
term for harassment of women) through installations, happenings and events. She’s enjoyed a fair bit of press and media buzz around her work, which is how I had heard of her in the US.

Jasmeen’s boyfriend, whose name I’m afraid I don’t know how to spell, is doing work in Processing on hydrology and sound. (He also lived in San Francisco). Of course, he knows of William Martin, one of my friends from Yale, who used Processing for acoustic modeling. Other friends joined as the evening went on, including Udai, an MSR researcher who works on a multimouse computer system for educational
settings in developing and emerging economies. From Archana’s comfortable flat, we went for biryani, and then milkshakes (I had a rose-flavored one: refreshing!). Everything shuts down early in Bangalore, thanks to a recent police crackdown, and we all had early Saturday mornings.

On Wednesday, I met the person John Thackara, Heather and danah told me to meet: Aditya dev Sood. He runs the Center for Knowledge Societies, an interaction design and ethnography practice focusing on emerging markets (India in particular) and technologies (primarily the mobile). He seems to know many people I do and travel in the same broad
circles. Plus, he studied architecture and is now completing his Ph.d. in anthropology. No shortage of conversation topics there.

Last night, I saw Aparna Rao. She is a Bangalore native who graduated from Ivrea in 2004. I’ve always liked her work. It’s beautiful with lots of attention to detail, but it’s provocative as well. Her Uncle Phone is one outstanding example. We caught up about people but more importantly, about life.

I’m not even mentioning the community in my flat, with Carolyn, Asha, Satiya, and Paul. That’s been outstanding. Last weekend’s shopping, going out excursions, and in-flat conversations were various permutations of us. It’s nice to have a comfortable home situation here.

Tonight, a reception for an architecture office. Tomorrow, a short film festival. The people I’ve met are turning me onto the design scene in Bangalore, which is exciting. I’m wondering where I might pitch an article about contemporary design here. All in all, I’ve been happy to reconnect with, meet and get to know people who have these interests. It’s an exciting view of the town.