Walking the streets this morning, feeling the summer heat slowly but surely creeping up on me, I was reminded of naive childhood ideas of air-conditioned streets, the fantastical climate-controlled domed cities of science fiction and Buckminster Fuller through architecture school, and the common sense of ‘let’s plant more trees!’ of professional practice. And then I stumbled upon this…
Well, not actually stumbled… I’ve seen the streets around the Aurobindo Ashram canopied before, and make sure I walk under their cool shade on the occasional days that they are up. Yesterday, February 21st, was the Mother’s birth anniversary, when thousands of visitors congregate to pay their respects at her samadhi. The Ashram puts up these cloth canopies, stretched on ropes, knotted to hooks on the building facades on either side of the street, providing shade to the throngs that flock the Ashram. While I avoided those crowds yesterday, there were still several visitors this morning, and I took some photos to share… A wonderfully common sense solution to beat the heat, don’t you think?
On an endnote… I hope to continue posting regularly a ‘Pondicherry Urban Diary’, documenting the contemporary urban experience of living in this town, and the Mother’s birthday seems as auspicious a day as any to begin!
Devangi Ramakrishnan is an architect and urban designer, living and working in Pondicherry since October 2012. She provides project-based consultancy to Intach Pondicherry, and manages communications and outreach for UDC.