Lost in the streets of Jodhpur, I found myself grappling for direction. My inner compass malfunctioned as I stood at the centre of a busy junction, being jostled by locals who seemed to know bloody-well what they were doing. I, on the other hand, stood flabbergasted and overwhelmed by the city around me.
I think growing up in a metropolis trains your mind to think in a very particular way. In a city, you travel with the definite purpose of moving from a Point A to Point B and your brain recognizes visual landmarks that help guide you along the way. Most people can navigate their cities using a subconscious map of memory data, calculating their decisions based on visual cues at each location.
Every person has their own map, a unique network of visual images and memory packages within their own heads. Every new city challenges you with new patterns and once you become familiar with these patterns, it becomes easy to navigate the city.
My adventure in Jodhpur taught me a very important lesson – that architecture is a dance of colours, narratives, sounds and spaces; and design is the invisible driving force that connects them.
A relationship with architecture and the city must involve all of the senses, and cannot be a purely visual one. To rely solely on the eyes, to ignore the sounds, flavours and smells, is to witness the city through an impenetrable glass window. And as I aimlessly wandered through the narrow streets of Jodhpur, camera in hand, I began to sense what I had been missing all along.
The smell of roti being prepared nearby led me down an alleyway, a breeze that whistled through a narrow street called my attention, a lady selling carrots at the end of the road, a quarrel, a group of children playing, a kite forgotten on the pavement – these events became my landmarks, each telling me a story. Suddenly I felt drawn into the system of the city; as if I recognized its rhythm, its heartbeat. It seemed all these events were a part of the dynamic architecture of the city and I was finally able to perceive it.
Text & Photos By Kiran Nayak