Tuesday, November 12, 2013

III. College Experience; thus the architect’s journey began

When I was asked, by the interview panel for the selection of scholarship courses, why I am not preferring Mathematics honor in third world, but rather the architecture course in India, little did I know that saying being architect means being an independent entrepreneur than depending on government job would mean that I had no idea about what architecture is all about. Thinking that preparing drawings and making money as architecture was my first sin. And that architecture is just about building was another mistake. I was learning bricks, pencil thicknesses, paper sizes, giving half cut to the paper, grinding the metal piece in workshop, carrying a chain in the rose garden beside the college, sketching the flower, and computer, before I even started drawing any building.
Photo courtesy; http://getawayisland.files.wordpress.com/
Many friends in the class had already learnt few things about engineering drawings, read about architecture and had coaching on architectural software. I was the dumbest in the class because all I did during the pre-scholarship period was being excited about going to India and do architecture.  All I had was a foreign face and big blank head. One day, a computer teacher asked why we chose architecture, and many gave answers from having a dream to build their own name to having sent by parents to having not qualified to IIT and therefore choosing Architecture. I on the other hand, bluffed them that our government needs architects as we have hardly 50 architects for the developing country and god be great, we in fact needed architects then, but now I cannot say about that anymore. With each passing day, I survived by copying what my friends did. Sometimes, even though my submission was the copied one, I used to score better grades, however, most of the times it made me think whether I chose the wrong profession or not. I was not learning anything than copying other’s work. I was wondering what the architecture is about? By the way about the mathematics which availed the opportunity for me to get enrolled for the architecture course formed a very small part of our course. And it was just a semester course which finished by just studying about differential equation.
Hostel life was of course more homely. With senior Bhutanese friends consoling us that they were also clueless in the beginning and that with time, we would settle well into the web and enjoy the course. Most of times, carrying a big parallel bar, and a roll of A1 Sheet, like everyone, I drove on ring road in auto-rickshaw to the college, come back to the hostel, visit a senior’s room for a friendly talk, have dinner, then go around asking my friends about the home work and spend half the night preparing the drawings by copying from my friends. By the way, it wasn't the building drawings, but rather a brick bonding drawings, arch patterns, basically all that was not about building which I dreamt(at least I thought so then). 

Monday, November 11, 2013

II. College Experience; Settling down in Delhi

Delhi can be a small dot in the great Indian map, but, population wise, it cannot be undone. With more than a crore population, I was like thrown into the pool to survive and thus thrive. School of Planning and Architecture, widely known as SPA, had a hostel campus and college buildings separated by more than 10 kilometers  It was Rs.50 away from hostel in New Friend’s Colony to the college in ITO (Income Tax Office) area in auto-rickshaw  While on a train from Howrah to Delhi, a guy with whom we shared a compartment told us that the college we are going is deemed like an IIT for architects. It was very motivating and felt blessed until I saw a single building attached with the oval auditorium, and that we were told building is the architecture block, and the hostel had a big single building complex as the student hostel. For such a reputed college, how can an infrastructure be poor?
College Building, SPA, at IP estate, New Delhi
We got admitted and we were sent in different sections. Architecture department, had so many courses from undergraduate to the masters, but UG-Architecture had the maximum number of students from the two sections per batch. I was placed in First Year Section ‘A’ while two of my friends were placed in the other section. Being in a class of so many Indian friends and a very few people who looked like our tribe, it was a very difficult experience initially. However, I made friends with them, and my understanding of Hindi served me well in getting closer to them. Some faculties would teach in Hindi, while most of the faculties taught in English  And a three hour long classes would end by 5.PM in the evening. As usual, we would board the Auto-rickshaw to get to the faraway home.
Hostel Block, Taimoor Nagar, New Friend's Colony, Delhi
Hostel was very tight for the students who were there before us. And having been late by a week, it was a difficult situation for us to get the hostel rooms. We ran here and there seeking help from seniors and it ran abruptly into nothing. Finally, we decided to stay in a guest room which cost us 200 per night. It was pretty disappointing for our college fee and hostel fee were paid together, and yet we ended up having to pay for the accommodation  After trying hard for two weeks, we decided to take up a room in Laxmi Nagar, 10 minutes drive from the college. Being away in an unknown city, and having not settled well, we stayed in a very small room, and that room was pretty expensive. It cost us Rs. 14000.
We kept on trying to report to the  DAHE back in Bhutan about our situation, but nothing happened.Finally after staying for 15 days, my friend, Jamyang succeeded in getting us a flat in the hostel complex. He approached Director, and that was our third try meeting director and requesting him to attend to our problem.

Being in Delhi itself is a big challenge but to be out there with no proper accommodation and least help, that is all together another bigger problem.