Architect Jayakrishnan: All in the Line of Work

A.R. Jayakrishnan’s lines bring alive cityscapes from around the world

Architect A.R. Jayakrishnan draws inspiration from cityscapes. So much so that his wife, architect Chitra Nair, cribs that her husband never clicks a snap of hers. “He is an extremely good photographer but he focusses on buildings and landscapes, it is never people. In fact, if there is a person somewhere in the snap, it has probably been added to give a sense of dimension or proportion to the snap,” says Chitra, all smiles while her husband sheepishly pleads guilty. But over the last few years, JK, as he is known as, exchanged his camera for a pen and paper. And the lines are evident on the walls of their office space in Belhaven in Thiruvananthapuram.

JK

Sketches of many landmarks in the city have been framed and put up on the walls alongside several awards for architecture won by the couple. “I always had a good hand and enjoyed sketching but as it happens with many people, once I left college, sketching took a backseat and I became a passionate photographer. I used to sketch but sporadically,” recalls JK.

JK2A chance meeting with South African architect Peter Rich changed his perspective and before he knew it, he was accompanying Rich on his sketching expeditions in different parts of India.

“I consider him as my guru. He had come to Thiruvananthapuram to see Laurie Baker’s buildings and we hit it off. Peter insists that sketching is the best way to understand a building and he is the reason why I took up my pen again to begin sketching seriously,” says JK. Chitra adds: “Photography, Peter feels, does not demand that kind of observation. Many a time, we click a photo and then forget about it. But he says when one draws the lines with your hand, there is a brain-hand connection that imprints the images in the brain. and now, JK disappears with Peter to different parts of India to sketch. Last month they went to Badami and Hampi and in August they are off to Mandu in Madhya Pradesh,” says Chitra.

Peter also encouraged JK to begin sketching walks in the city and on many Saturdays JK would set off with a group of students to sketch and walk. In the meantime, JK happened to meet US-based architect DK Ching, who was visiting Chennai and he introduced JK to Urban Sketcher, a world-wide community of sketchers.

“It is a community of sketchers trying to see the world through sketches. An annual conference is held on July 23 in different parts of the world. This year, we will be meeting in Chicago. Prior to that we met in Singapore and that is when we drew up the blueprint for a sketchers’ group for Asia. Till then, it was Western in spirit but the meet showed clearly the distinctive features of Asian sketches and that is how Asianlink Sketchers came into being,” says JK.

Participants of the first Asianlink Sketchwalk in Singapore had to present a 10-minute presentation on their region and it turned out to be a moment of epiphany for JK. While reminding the participants that since India was too vast and diverse to be covered in a 10-minute presentation, he would draw their attention to the art of Kerala.

“I discovered that Kerala has always had a long and strong tradition of line drawings. Kalamezhuthu, Theyyam, murals… all involve lines and colours are inlaid in between the lines. Even the make-up of Kathakali and Theyyam artistes is about filling in colour in between demarcated areas. Look at the works of Artist Namboothiri, Devan, C.N. Karunakaran and so on… All of them have a strong affinity with lines. I feel it is in our blood,” says JK.

This year, the meet will be in Kuching in Malayasia and JK’s excitement is obvious as he gears up for the trip in October.

A compulsive traveller, JK travels for work and, most importantly, to sketch. He also arranges tours with an accent on architecture. The first such tour was to Sri Lanka and the focus of interest was Geoffrey Bawa. “So we stayed in hotels that were built by Bawa, we visited houses that were built by him, his gardens…. it was a memorable trip,” recalls Chitra.

A few years ago, he set up a company, World Architecture Travels, to arrange trips that were focussed on architecture. Since then, JK has arranged such tours for those interested in architectural marvels and landmarks around the world. Later, this year, they plan to travel to Mexico and also present a paper in the University of Mexico on curating modern architecture in Kerala.

And, of course, JK would be busy capturing Mexico on paper.

“Sketching is meditative. Anyone can sketch. It is only a question of how you observe. Once that is learnt, then it is all about transferring that on paper,” observes JK.

JK’s favourite places

So is there a favourite place in Thiruvananthapuram that he enjoys sketching the most? He admits that if there is one place that keeps drawing him back again and again, it is the Fort area and agraharams. The globetrotter adds that Paris is another place that inspires the sketcher in him, especially the Notre Dame du Haut, a chapel built by Le Corbusier in Ronchamp.

Inputs from “The Hindu”

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Kundamankadavu Bridge: Another Cultural Hub in Making in Thiruvananthapuram

kmn_bridgeImage Courtesy: The New Indian Express

The century-old Kundamankadavu bridge in Thiruvananthapuram is set to become a cultural hub. Efforts are on to declare the 119-year-old steel suspension bridge a heritage monument as well. The ancient bridge is still used by motorists though a new concrete bridge was constructed adjacent to it in 2015. At present traffic is allowed only in one direction on the old bridge. But the thin traffic on the bridge has led to another evil – waste dumping under the bridge and on the approach road.

People of Vilappil and Vilavoorkkal panchayats have now started a movement to protect the bridge from waste dumping. Recently, a public meeting convened by Kattakkada MLA I B Satheesh took some bold decisions to conserve the structure. They include regular night beats by residents’ association members under the leadership of local body leaders.

The meeting was attended by elected members of Vilappil and Vilavoorkkal panchayats, local police and various residents’ associations. A hi-mast lamp will be installed to make the bridge more attractive in nights. The lamp and a round-the-clock CCTV surveillance to identify waste dumpers will be set up using the local area development fund of Satheesh.

The MLA said he has approached the Archaeology Minister to declare the bridge a heritage monument. “There isn’t a similar structure in the state. The suspension bridge was built by the British and maintained by the military. It deserves to be conserved as a heritage structure,” he said.Archaeology Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran will lead a team of experts from his department who will visit the bridge this week to prepare a conservation master plan.

Efforts have also been started to establish a biodiversity park under the bridge. “The park will come up on the riverbank. The State Biodiversity Board has been asked to submit a plan for this,” Satheesh said.

“We also plan to make the bridge a cultural corridor modelled on the Manaveeyam Veedhi. On one evening every week the bridge will host a cultural programme,” he said.

News Source: “The New Indian Express”

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From Sana’a to Thiruvananthapuram, a Scholar’s Journey !

EassaImage Courtesy: Times of India

Yemeni student, determined to escape the fratricidal violence of his homeland, emerged topper in the MA linguistics examination conducted by the University of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram.

Thirty one-year-old Eassa Ali Mohammed Ali, who won a scholarship programme offered by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in 2015, got 83% marks, mustering good grades in 72 credits spanning four semesters.

For Ali, a professor of translation at Sana’a University in Yemen, it wasn’t easy making it to Thiruvananthapuram. He had to take a boat, packed with livestock and other animals, for a stormy 17-hour journey to Ethiopia and then three hours by road infested with rebels to reach the airport in Addis Ababa, from where he could take a flight to Thiruvananthapuram. “It was only six days before the deadline for joining Kerala University that I could check my email. But I was determined to reach Thiruvananthapuram on the said date and so I took the risks I had to,” Ali said.

A rank holder in his graduation course in translation at Sana’a University, Ali imbibed his love for language from his father who was a school teacher.

“For me, translation is all about propagating cultural awareness. The essence of a book has to be captured fully in translation and as a translator I believe my job is to help societies understand each other,” said Ali, who lives at Kariavattom in Thiruvananthapuram city with his wife and two daughters.

Coming from a strife-torn land, he has found Thiruvananthapuram very welcoming. “I was apprehensive, when I reached here. But, “kayicho (കഴിച്ചോ?)” (did you have food?) was mostly the first question people asked me. The question itself speaks about the kindness of people when they meet a stranger,” he said.  Ali also found the Kerala University faculty and ICCR officials very helpful. He goes gaga over the greenery here but says he’s a little wary of the spicy food.

His teachers are all praise for Ali. “Usually it is local students who are toppers in this course. But his knowledge of the subject and teaching experience in Yemen helped him beat them all,” said Dr S Kunjamma, Head of Department of Linguistics at the university.

Ali has clear plans for the future – he wants to do a PhD in translation, a bridge between his native culture and the one he has discovered Thiruvananthapuram.

Inputs from “Times of India”

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K.S Sabarinathan MLA Marries Dr.Divya S Iyer IAS

 

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Congress MLA representing Aruvikkara constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, KS Sabarinathan, and Thiruvananthapuram Sub Collector Divya S Iyer got married at a simple ceremony held at Kumarakovil near Thuckalay in Kanyakumari district.

The function was attended by close relatives and senior Congress leaders such as Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, V D Satheeshan, K C Joseph and Anto Anthony.

 

We wish them a “Happy Married Life” !

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Now, Self-drive to Your Weekend Getaway in Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram City is set to have its self-driven vehicles on rent soon. These vehicles would have black registration number plates with yellow alphanumeric characters—the authorized number plates for commercial vehicles with special permits issued by the motor vehicles department.

SteerWhlImage Courtesy: WikiHow

Such number plates would denote that the vehicles could be hired without a driver. Other commercial vehicles have been using yellow number plates with alphanumerical characters in black.

Private companies have begun registering vehicles for such special permits in Thiruvananthapuram RTO office and the vehicles were expected to hit the roads in July week.

The motor vehicle department have been issuing permits for these vehicles under ‘Rent-a-Motorcycle’ and ‘Rent-a-Car schemes. To receive permit under these schemes, a bike operator should have a minimum of five motorcycles, while a car operator should have 50 cars. One could hire these vehicles on hourly or daily basis. “When we planned to launch the service in the city, people do not know about such a scheme in the MVD Act. We have registered nine motorcycles and the entire is likely to be complete in two weeks,” said Nagraj M, project management team member at Royal Bison Auto Rentals, which would launch its bikes in Thiruvananthapuram. Such self-drive vehicle are in great demand with tourists in other states. RTO here started receiving application for such permits from January and all the registration process is complete.

News Inputs from “Times of India”

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Thiruvananthapuram Metro: Less Land to be Acquired

The state government has revised its order pertaining to land acquisition for construction of flyover and junction improvement in Sreekaryam as part of the metro project in Thiruvananthapuram. It has been decided to reduce the extent of land to be acquired.

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Image Courtesy: KRTL

The decision was taken after the technical committee approved the proposal to reduce the length of flyover at Sreekaryam. This is expected to bring an amicable solution to the issue of land acquisition at Sreekaryam which was facing protest from the locals.

The order has said that land needed to be acquired for the flyover has been reduced from 4.91 acres to 3.28 acres. After technical committee approved the design, which suggested an 85-metre reduction in the total length of 535 metres, the Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Limited has requested modification in its earlier proposal.

Local traders and members of Sreekaryam jam-a-at had formed an action council to protest against the land acquisition at Sreekaryam, which they alleged was unjust. They had stated that they would allow only equi-distance policy. As per the original design, the Sreekaryam jam-a-at would loss a major part of its property, as per drawings for construction of the flyover. As per the preliminary plan, around 200 shops had to be displaced for the work. The local traders had demanded KRTL to speed up the land acquisition process to put an end to the uncertainty.

The KRTL is planning to construct a four-lane flyover. Marking of land for acquisition is almost complete at Sreekaryam. After initiating land acquisition works at Sreekaryam, the KRTL has started land marking works for construction of flyover at Ulloor. In addition to Sreekaryam and Ulloor, KRTL will construct flyovers at Pattom and Thampanoor. Of this, design for Thampanoor has not received administration sanction so far.  A total of 5.22 acres is required for Sreekaryam, Ulloor and Pattom flyovers. The government has given consent for direct purchase of 4.8 acres for metro stations and 5.22 acres for construction of flyovers as part of the project.

News Source: “Times of India”

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Ponmudi and Veli to Get a Facelift

Tourists can look forward to better recreational and infrastructure facilities at Ponmudi and Veli in Thiruvananthapuram with the government giving nod for works to the tune of ₹4.54 crore.

Ponmudi1

The lower sanatorium, the first stopover of those reaching the Ponmudi hill resort, is to be spruced up at a cost of ₹2.07 crore without altering its natural beauty and terrain. Bamboo huts, tree houses, landscaped garden, and sculptures will greet visitors once the beautification is completed. Adventure park, treetop viewing point, water fountain, bus shelter, parking slots, and signage will also be set up.

New facilities would be created in the park that was presently out of bounds for visitors, said District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) secretary T.V. Prashanth.

Work on revamping the tourist amenity centre at the lower sanatorium, near the government guest house, is in the final phase. A tourism information centre, snack bar and rest rooms would function from the centre once it was opened, he said.

Permission sought

The Tourism Department has sought permission from the Forest Department to commence adventure activities, including trekking on the Kallar-Ponmudi stretch; renovate the park and watch tower in the upper sanatorium; and to install signage.

The decision to take up the work was taken during a visit by Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran and Forest Minister K. Raju to the hill resort on March 10.

Veli

Veli1

Development work on the swimming pool and park at Veli under the DTPC is being taken up at ₹2.47 crore. The 1.15-acre tourist village has a natural pond too. A water treatment plant, ticket counter, snack bar, and parking slots will be set up.

Once completed, the visitors will be able to enter the swimming pool from the main entrance. Pool parties could be organised in the night, the DTPC secretary said.

With a meeting of the State-level working group on Tourism on June 2 clearing the proposals, the government has given administrative nod for the two projects. The work is to be executed by Kerala Tourism in 18 months and M/s GITPAC is the architect. A decision on the executing agency is yet to be taken.

News Source: “The Hindu”

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