This happy yellow afternoon, the second day of UnBox, on the lawns of Zorba, as we sat together for a Vino Picnic lunch consisting of yummy sandwiches, salads, sangria and cake, blaring Bollywood music from a family party in the neighbouring farmhouse gave us some surprising company. We turned to our firang friends with embarrassing smiles. ‘Hey, welcome to India: this crazy mash up of juxtaposed realities that we smile at irrespective of what side we’re on!’ But how would it be if even our neighbours were playing progressive EDM and classical music collaborations between the harp and the Indian cello. Hipsters would never remain hipsters if they were too many of them, would they?
Cities are crucibles of transactions and hence, opportunities. Wikipedia tells me they are “large centres of high density”. It is often in this largeness of the city that people turn into numbers on census data and volumes on the Metro and buses. In the busy business of urban life, we often forget about all the opportunities of conversation that this density brings and, in contradiction, yearn for the little easy place ‘back home’.
Does it reveal something about creative professionals that they are often found seeking joy in the bylanes of transforming urban villages of Delhi? Is this where we see the potential of positive urbanity harnessed at the right scale? Nostalgia for what home would have been like, or an inkling sensation what home must be like. What is this elusive comfort in the smallness of things that fills the void in our everyday urbanity?
UnBox, among many other things, sparks local and global conversations that are possible only in the physicality of this pop village of people. Insulated as it might want to be in this urban oasis of a farmhouse, the Bollywood music next door only puts us back in context and reminds us that that this conversation could be very every day, everywhere.
The Festival doesn’t grow any bigger every year. It only triggers a million other unboxes that could potentially spring up in neighbourhood parks and street intersections every day; local surprises that we could uncover every day in our little big buildings, in our small city homes, in cities that could become large homes.
Rohan Patankar is a final-year student of architecture from SPA, Delhi. He participated in the Writing for Design workshop led by Teal Triggs at the UnBox Festival 2013.