Dec 25, 2009

I'm a Mac (Just a Regular Guy)

You can download an illustrated version of this essay here. (pdf, 1.02 MB)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet;”
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

The Many Macintoshes
Once upon a time, a Mackintosh was a rather unglamorous looking raincoat made in Britain. Then, on January 24, 1984, the word Macintosh (without the letter ‘k’) acquired a new meaning: a personal computer manufactured and sold by Apple Computers, Inc. This computer was sold with two applications developed by Apple: MacWrite and MacPaint. Thus was born the brilliant nickname that would stick to every subsequent computer product that Apple released – “Mac”. In both Apple’s products and their marketing, this nickname has played out in a delightfully unforeseen but meaningful way.

Dec 22, 2009

Pedicab Wala

Listen to me talk about Rickshaws in New York City, or download the file here (mp3, 6.45MB).

Rickshaws in New York City? Oh yes, they exist. And they're thriving.

(Clockwise from Top Left)

1. Stan O'Connor, who's been a pedicab tour guide for 14 years now. He loves giving tours to Indians, can sing "Chamma Chamma", and hum "Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai". He says that the one building Indians love to see in New York is the United Nations. Yup, that's us: world peace lovers.

2. An anonymous cycle rickshaw driver from India, and his passengers who luckily brought their own weatherproofing. The basic frame is the same as the pedicab's. The drivers are very different, as you can see.

3. Just Married, on a pedicab rented from Tony Roy's Pony Cab rental service. Movie and TV appearances are also part of their services.

Thanks to Stan, Tony and Ismail. The music is "Main Rickshawala" from the film "Chhoti Behen" (1959)

Dec 12, 2009

The Belle of the Ball

The George Washington Bridge Bus Station (GWBBS) once dreamed of fame. She had been encouraged to, because the men who created her in 1963 obviously suffered from incurable optimism, and a very strong idea of how things should be. To Robert Moses, she was to be the gateway to upper Manhattan. She was raised to take in all the traffic that poured off the Bridge and politely show it where to go: “Cars this way please, Heavy Vehicles go there, and Buses come to me.” She was trained to wave goodbye to the thousands of people leaving Upper Manhattan for Jersey and other points East: a warm goodbye that would make them want to come back to the greatest city in the world.

Dec 2, 2009

The Tall Bank Building Sustainably Considered

In December 2007, a 255.5 ft architectural spire was added to the new Bank of America building at One Bryant Park, finally giving it its intended height of 1,200 ft. This made it the second tallest building, and the tallest glass‐walled skyscraper in New York City. However, its biggest claim to fame is something that is unfortunately not visible in the architectural renderings, or to the passer‐by on the street: it is being touted as the world’s greenest skyscraper.

The Bank of America Tower is the first skyscraper designed to attain a Platinum LEED certification: the ultimate stamp of approval for sustainable construction. The developers, the Durst Organisation, and the architects Cook+Fox are confident their building will achieve this rating. At One Bryant Park, they claim to have bettered their earlier efforts with the Four Times Square building, creating a compendium of best sustainable practices using the technology that exists today.

Celebrating Design

September is the best time to visit Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, India. In the gentle autumn weather the Bengalis celebrate a ten day festival in honour of their favourite diety: the ten-armed Mother Goddess Durga. There is private worship in every home, but each neighbourhood organizes public worship at a stall, or pandaal. These pandaals are elaborate affairs: ranging from small sheds to enormous halls that are several hundred square feet in area. They are designed and built by local artisans, and have the most diverse inspirations. Last year’s pandaal themes included Victorian, Tribal, Gandhi, and Harry Potter. The highlight of each pandaal is a large idol of the Goddess Durga, designed in keeping with the theme. The Harry Potter pandaal was shaped like Hogwarts castle and the idol had moons and stars on her sari.