It's a dance, that's what this all is. The skitter of a skate, the motor of a rickshaw, the song of a vegetable seller, the lady with her dog, the dog's polka-dotted bow-tie, the past lives of a monument, and the wind, always the wind, sweeping through each of these varied scenes, the stage for the dance.
We coincide with people and events all the time--wonder at its impossibility, marvel at its luck or blame it intelligent design--but it is when we bump into ourselves, some previous character or moment that wisps by us like a hand on a street or a fleck of dust, that we stop. We stop to remember, before it rolls away. We hold our breath because, not knowing what it is made of, we don't want it to set sail again, just yet. Human life is made up of a series of these encounters, what Rushdie calls, in A Ground Beneath Her Feet, a "bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumbling apart".
It is this moment, after this moment's arrival and before our questioning of it, that this issue seeks to examine. Where two lines, two lives, intersect, where a stitch meets the thing being stitched, where reality twists into our dreams.
Perhaps, then, coincidences are not the arbitrary--or highly designed--relationship between two unlikely calculations. Perhaps they are a force in itself, a glue, a fixer, a narrative, a sky, binding us to everything. So that when we listen to a concert in a hall where the luthiers used to live, or find a letter of reconciliation in a book that long years ago tore our grandparents apart, or find H, the letter that links two parallel lines, embossed in the concrete, just as we decide its reign over the rest of the alphabet, we know that somehow, we are part of the pattern: taken care of, and safe.
Anagram Architects, made up of pair of mystery-makers and mischief makers, Madhav Raman and Vaibhav Dimri, guide us through their creative and personal journey as they laugh, bicker and seek surprise. When asked how they would "go about creating an unforgettable experience, or bring together the elements for the perfect picnic", Dimri astutely answers: "To create an unforgettable experience for someone, you need to empathise with them. You can't dictate terms. You have to desire that goal enough to change yourself into them. If you can do that then all you need to do is to trust your gut." If Dimri's answer were any clue to their designs, then the fact that the wall of the Kindred house "behaves like a gentle water curtain" or that the facade of the SAHRDC building seems to move and tackle light to its advantage, are indicators that they use this philosophy as a building block at work too. It is not simply them building the building, it seems that the building builds them too.
Tabish Khair, author of The Thing about Thugs, amongst many others, connects constellations with rhyme schemes and death with alliteration, in order to arrive at the things that craft the ink from his pen. On poetry and coincidence, he says, "Poetry contains coincidence that is inevitable. To state the inevitable is to state the obvious and the unnecessary, but to state the coincidental as sheer accident is to state the uninteresting and cursory. In poetry, or in creative literature in general, one has to state what is neither obvious not uninteresting and incidental. The coincidence of a good poem is always momentous."
Gautam Sinha, the sketchbook and master behind Nappa Dori, tells us about his fetish for leather and his obsession with the measuring tape in recounting his inspirations, processes and design philosophy of 'simple'. When asked, "If you could live in any era, which would it be and why", Gautam replies: "It would most definitely be the 1820’s, before the industrial revolution. I feel the phrase “Handcrafted” actually stood for what it meant, people were a lot more evolved in terms of their craft, and knew a lot more about their materials and how to make the most of them...". In this space between then and now is where his designs fit in: their nostalgic imagery and design aesthetic makes the consumer want to return to a slower, more visceral way of life.
And finally, to cap the lid, existentially, on this recently-established universal force, is a story about the places that we go, or that come to us, when we are asleep. This piece is about the coincidence between four sets of people, from four continents, that utilize the universal world of sleep in order to arrive at an understanding of their person. The photographs by Natasha de Betak and Katrina d’Autremont of sleeping people in India and Argentina respectively, transcend geography, evoking French author Georges Perec’s statement: Everyone has dreams. His books of dreams, La Boutique Obscure, is the inspiration for Angela Evancie, a writer from the United States, to document the people she becomes when she is asleep. Perhaps reading this story will spiral you into waking up in order to journal your own, other, anywhere, lives.
They arrive at us most when we are awake, and aware of this mysterious cohesion of conditions and causalities. Outside of culture, outside of geography, outside of education and the layers of living, these coincidences make us Everyman. They make us give over a little of ourselves and the control that we are taught to hold things with.
Every sunbeam, every strain of music, every sapling and starfish is ultimately the regeneration of a previous something, a collection of somethings, taking on new shape. At the most indivisible level we can comprehend, all life is nothing more than atoms and molecules dancing their way through various forms. And if everything comes from something, it stands to reason that everything must go to something as well.Read More