Sunday, June 23, 2013

Five Point Nothing

It is wonderful to be back at the Academy. I have had wonderful memories of this place and consider it to be the best among all the other Academies. As I checked into the room of the guest house allotted to me, the first thing that stuck me was the bedroom. Not that I have not seen these rooms before, but every time I did, I was confounded with the same thought – the shape of the room. The bedrooms of the guesthouse are pentagon in shape.  I have seen square and rectangular rooms. Or even ‘L’ shaped rooms, but pentagon? A room with five corners and five walls where every wall appears running diagonally when seen from the opposite wall. Due to the unusual angles of the wall, the furniture appears to be strewn around. The entire room has a feel of post modernist abstract sculpture. Thankfully, the bed is rectangular. Else I would have spent another lifetime figuring out where to rest my head. The old faithfuls of my blog will know how totally immersed I was into the training during my probation days. Therefore, I could not spare much thought to this mysterious design. However, this time, I decided to find out why was there the extra wall.

Probably they were inspired by the American Defense Headquarters. After all, Defence and Taxation are the two most defining signs of sovereignty.  But that seemed too far stretched. It was constructed at a time when our friendship with the Soviet Union was next only to that of Jai and Veeru. Or maybe it was driven by Vaastu considerations. No matter how secular and scientific we claim ourselves to be, it is a fact that we do allow ourselves such indulgences in an unabashed manner. So I sent a copy of the room plan to an eminent vaastu expert for his expert opinion. His marketing tagline screamed that his structures bought peace and prosperity in life and afterlife. I thought he plagiarised the ad campaign of the leading insurance behemoth. Later, I learnt that more than buildings, he designed tombstones, graveyards and even crematoriums. Of course, those alive cannot certify and those dead could not confirm. After numerous follow-ups, all I got for an opinion was a terse two-worded phrase that we hear every day on the news channels, “No Comments”.

Not the one to be disheartened, I decided to independently examine the possibility of some veiled astronomical significance in the design. I guess, it was a hangover of reading too much of Dan Brown.  I remember seeing such strange structures in Jantar Mantar too. I got the Sky Watchers Handbook from the library and stared through the window wondering if any particular planet, star or constellation would be visible from that angle. All I could see was the flickering sodium vapour street Iamp peeping through the branches of a wilted Gulmohar tree. I waited till the dawn to check where the first rays of sun fell. It fell on that corner of the room where the dustbin was placed.

At this point, I must confess that this was not only baffling room I came across. A stranger room was occupied by my erstwhile boss in Hyderabad. The building is probably one of the best governement offices in the country but rooms of the range heads are puzzling to say the least. They are so acutely trapezoidal that they almost border an isosceles triangle. The occupants have found planning the orientation of their office table more challenging than cracking hardcore money laundering. Such assymetry that whichever way you park you table, the opposite walls appear diagonally. The same room makes you feel claustrophobic at one end and agoraphobic at the other. Constant staring at diagonally running walls causes such severe disorientation that you just look into the files and never lift your head. May be that was the intent too. No one should aimless stare at walls. Not even for a second. Not even to look at the calendar or the clock.

I just keep wondering about the brains behind such fantastic designs which have a potential for a doctoral dissertation among the classes and political polarization among the masses. They can pass off as a new age architectural fusion of Pythagoras' Trigonometry with Picasso’s Cubism - an offspring of the holy union between art and science. Just that they fell short of utility and function failed to follow the form. They are no different from the first house allotted to me by the government. By now, I realised that even pondering over the subject was adversely affecting my abilities to judge distances and dimensions. I also began to fear that I am on the threshold of becoming an astigmatic. Since I needed to protect my limited cerebral and sensory abilities, I decided to call off this quest for truth with immediate effect. As I could not find any special reason behind these grotesque geometrics, I concluded, like many other assets of the state, they must be the result of sarkari planning and budgeting. Only in this case, in their zeal to cut corners, they cut a few too dramatically.