Zafar’s epitaph

The following poem was written by Bahadur Shah Zafar as his epitaph. (there is some controversy as to the authorship – but I will treat this as legend)
In Urdu
Lagta nahiin hai jii mera ujray dayar mein
Kis kii banii hai aalam-e-na-payedar mein

Kah do in hasarataun se kahiin awr jaa basen
Itanii jagah kahan hai dil-i daaghdaar mein

Bulbul ko baghban say na sayyad say gila
Kismat main qaid likhi thi mausam-e-bahar main
Umr-i daraaz maang ke laaye they chaar din
Do aarzu mein kat gaye do intezaar mein

Hai kitna bad nasiib Zafar dafn ke liye
Do gaz zamiin bhii na milii ku-ye yaar mein

English Translation
My heart is not happy in this despoiled land
Who has ever felt fulfilled in this transient world

Tell these emotions to go dwell elsewhere
Where is there space for them in this besmirched (bloodied) heart?
The nightingale laments neither to the gardener nor to the hunter
Imprisonment was written in fate in the season of spring
I had requested for a long life a life of four days
Two passed by in pinning, and two in waiting.
How unlucky is Zafar! For burial
Even two yards of land were not to be had, in the land (of the) beloved

Bahadurshah Zafar


Dalrymple Reading

Went to Dalrymple’s reading today. And was totally blown away by his talk.

Rafi singing Zafar:

Hindi Song Title: Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hun
Hindi Movie/Album Name: LAL QUILA
Singer(s): MOHD RAFI

Hindi Lyrics:

Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon

Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon
Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Qarar Hoon
Jo Kisi Ke Kaam Na Aa Sake
Main Woh Ek Mushth-E-Ghubaar Hoon
Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon

Na To Main Kisi Ka Habeeb Hoon
Na To Main Kisi Ka Raqeeb Hoon
Jo Bigad Chala Gaya Woh Naseeb Hoon Jo Ujad Gaya Woh Dayaar Hoon

Mera Rang Roop Bigad Gaya
Mera Yaar Muhjse Bichad Gaya
Jo Chaman Khizaan Mein Ujad Gaya
Main Usi Ki Fasl-e-Bahar Hoon

Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon
Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Qarar Hoon

Pay- Faatiha Koyi Aaye Kyon
Koyi Chaar Phool Chadaye Kyon
Koyi Aake Shama Jalaye Kyon
Koyi Aake Shama Jalaye Kyon
Main Woh Be-Kasi Ka Mazaar Hoon
Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon
Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Karar Hoon
Jo Kisi Ke Kaam Na Aa Sake
Main Woh Ek Musth-E-Gubaar Hoon
Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon

(Though this part had not been sung by Rafi 
yet useful for those who love this Nazm of Bahadur Shah Jafar, 
the last Moghul Emperor). Here it goes-

Main Kahaan Rahoon Main Khahan Basoon
Na Yeh Mujhse Khush Na Woh Mujhse Khush
Main Zameen Ki Peeth Ka Bojh Hoon
Main Falak Ke Dil Ka Gubaar Hoon
Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon

Here is Ghalib on Delhi:

The Chowk is a slaughter ground
And homes are prisons.
Every grain of dust in Delhi
Thirsts for Muslims’ blood.
Even if we were together
We could only weep over our lives.

More on Dalrymple here.

Michael, Liam and Malte

This is my note to you about the impact of the New Endeavour grant students from India (NID-National Institute of Design) upon our course next semester.

Info first:

1. There will be 12 students, extra students, in the program ballotting process.

2. These are all semester 7/ year 4 students – in their penultimate semester.

3. For their studios they could do either Upper Pool or, if possible at all (MW?), a ballotted major project. And for the ‘other’ they could do one or two electives. And or a studies.

4. I am involving Praveen Nahar, their staff member, in the decision of what he thinks has parity with what they would have done at NID as their sem 7 courses.

5. There are five male and 7 female students. I point this out to raise the aspect of gender balance.

Re Ballotting:

Re Studios: They come from a ‘product design’ course. This in NID is different from the furniture design course, and Industrial Design is the term they use to describe a larger grouping which includes – PD, FD, Ceramics, Textiles and all that is not Visual Communication. The course is ‘manufacturing’ and mass-production orientated. And so their natural affinity/appropriate course of development would be toward our more ‘object’ design orientated studio/elective slots.

Re Elective: From my sense of their penultimate year they may focus more on the ‘elective as a small studio’. That is the elective turns into a design project.

Re Studies: I wonder if they will venture into theory – but have provided it as an option within the elective category.

Re Major Project: I just threw this in as these students are 4th year students – and do we want them to work with our year 2 and 3. Or should they battle it out as a major project.

Re Various: I have put two as the maximum number for each ballotted slot. This will distribute the students over six or more slots. Much better for engagement between our students and them.

Through this process we are going to have a pre-ballot list. And one or 2 less places in the final ballotting process.

NOTE: I leave for India on 14th and would like to complete this process before I leave so that I can discuss the allocations when I am there. So am keen to know what you have finalised as studios/ electives/ studies on offer next sem.

Michael and I caught up

Michael Trudgeon and I had a chat yesterday. Even as Veronica stayed locked up in a dark and empty factory waiting for help. Very CSI feel to the conversation. I almost heard steps, and the chainsaw in the background. And if I hada remote would have liked to have clicked on an ariel shot of the factory (triangulated from the location of her phone which was switched oin as I had just spoken to her – or do I call her and Liam jumps up and makes vigorous circling motions with his hands – while he fiddles with his computer or bike light to locate the phone) – and we together zoom down matrix like. There she is – and so we do a swivel shot seeing Veronica from all sides. But cut to Michael – and there is talk now of a chat – just he and I at the Northern. Lets meet. And this is overlaid with the sound of the sirens and wheels on gravel (factory has to have gravel in its drive – but they dont do they – no we have to have that chewing meusli like sound in the back). Cut – blank screen.

Good to catch up with you Michael – and let me spruik Crowd while I am basking in this warm glow of comaraderie. Do go and see the site they do some awesome work.

Remember Michael the 04 semester we taught together – those conversations. Ah they were good weren’t they?

Reading and Writing

(Reproduced Post to PhD Design this morning)

For writing – the activity of Reading is useful too. And in the corridors here we usually hear that students these days dont read. Therefore and quite incidentally I offer two points for discussion from my experience this semester:

On Reading:

I am teaching a 12 Credit course this semester called “Reading India” – mainly for students going from here to India for a semester on a grant. To get them into India I made a handout. For this I compiled articles, book chapters and papers on and from India. Each of these was chosen because it was hugely confronting – for example one dealt with the eyewitness account of the daylight massacre in Ahmedabad a few years ago, and so on for the rest of them. The task for the students was to do two papers through the semester: the first was to be on a confronting topic and the second was to be on ‘design and industry’. Most of the first papers are in and weeks ago when they read it out in class – I was quite stunned at the quality. One paper dealt with Vandana Shiva and her fight with the global corporations over patent rights for Rice, Neem and Turmeric. Philippa who wrote this piece was quite passionate in her support through the piece – and at the end she decides to address criticisms about Shiva the person and the prima donna act. And that was quite slickly done. Another did ‘the hunger project’ – which took her into the discourse of the ‘other’.

In retrospect the problem here was not the student – they could write. But the problem was me, this academic, who believed they would not be able to write and so went in with a first set of texts – that would shock them out of their complacency. Is that what happened – was that why their writing was so good? Not sure I know the answer to this. But something else is coming through – their second papers are causing them grief. What are the topics? Automobile design in India, Craft in India – and so on. The indication seems to be that these topics are difficult to read – they go to sleep. Maybe “gruesome car crashes in India” may have been more engrossing. In short haven’t thought about this – and not really sure what is going on.

On writing:

Three of my PhDs and one Masters by Research student are in the last stretch of their time with me. And they are all furiously writing. But in January things were a bit different – so I spent quite some time marshaling resources on writing and talking/walking them through the material – and they have all come back to say how helpful all that was to them. You can find all that material here:

ABC series on STUFF

I had a trial interview today with Cynthia and Karen for the ABC series on Stuff. Michael Trudgeon had put Wendy Harmer on to me. (Have to call Michael) And I got to show Cynthia ( while Karen fiddled with the equipment) the Spending habits video. And then talked for 17.XX minutes about things, material culture and so on.

What cost all this Research Quantum stuff!

I came to Australia – out of IIT Delhi and into RMIT – at the end of 2003. In my first semester I sent off two staff members to finish their PhDs. Which to their credit they did within a year of getting this concentrated burst of time. I saw and heard the mention of the privileging of those with ‘runs on board’. I also heard mention of the academic system in Australia potentially becoming two tiered – teaching only and research based institutions. Four years later – it hasn’t happened. But some thing else has – which is in some senses the same thing – and that is the emergence of a class system. On the top sit those that can draw ‘grants’ and at the bottom sit those that want to ‘teach’. The elite and valued will be those that can ‘get’ the grants, which is an enterprise that is transformative and paradigm shifting itself. Places which value grant getters will spend enormous amount of time and effort on the mechanics of working the system. Within the first six months of landing in Australia I was invited as one of the speakers to QUT – to speak to a forum on getting ARC grants. I had everyone in splits talking about the India stories – where the DST tapped me on the shoulder and said here take this money and do this project (that was to do a national status report of waste in India). I dont forsee ARC coming after me – but I made the pitch saying (is this that Bhagvad Gita adage?) ‘ do interesting projects’ and ‘whatever you do don’t do strategic projects’ for if you listen you will not ‘work for humanity’ but will find you ‘work the system’. Please dont listen to people who teach you ‘tricks’ to get an ARC grant.

I have since been to a few such sessions at RMIT. And have found it deeply depressing. I have come in to university – seeking a refuge from the crass instrumentality of everyday design practice. And have found a load of idealism – and an audience of idealistic students. This may have propped me up falsely for two decades of my teaching practice – but I am glad I am deluded. I am getting grants – inconsequential ones – and that places me in the ‘elite’ category. But this is not something I enjoy. And it is irksome to hear it repeated. I enjoy teaching and find it tragic that it is now so devalued.

In the four years I have been here I see how things have changed. I see now a privileging of ‘research’ as paramount. And fear the loss of the vitality of the discipline itself. The corridors have a different ring. The disgruntlement has a hollow despondency. The loss of power and prestige is irrevocable. The claim that the aggressive pursuit of DEST points will energize the profession has few takers. First each of us has to smile, then laugh and then plunge into icy waters. This plunge, this foray into the world of feeling is different from the methodical chalking up of the strategic points. Method becomes everything. And spells thus the death of the dance with failure.
I wrote on PhD Design months ago about the loss of vitality in academia – and the quantitative valuing (DEST points) of the work of the professionals. And there was shock, but equally understanding ( and those may have been colleagues from UK). In conversation in Chicago with friends I heard them speak of their experience of visiting Australian universities and of the kinds of conversation that were common among academics here. And of their sadness that the centre has now been occupied by an instrumental discourse.

I sat with a friend yesterday and heard her speak of the negativity. Of the kinds of people who were getting a leg up in the new dispensation. The loss of autonomy and the emergence of the prescriptive regime. All this follows in the wake of the evaluative framework – and the paradigm of the quantitative hierarchy. And I looked around and found talk of this same discordant note – a piece that speaks of this same loss of autonomy, and spirit.

Years ago speaking of T&L – or strategic T&L – I moaned to Helen about the predominance of the instrumentalist discourse in the T&L lot I was meeting at RMIT. Where is the romance I said – and that is when she asked ‘where do you come from?’ In answer I showed her Schmier. Who says “I now believe that being an educator means I am in the “people business”. I now believe that the most essential element in education is caring about people. Education without caring, without a real human connection, is as viable as a person with a brain but without a heart.”

So – Who and I? I am a teacher.

Footy Match

Saturday dawned – hectic and exciting. Brenton had set up a program for all of us – Iain, Soraya and I – join him and Leon in going for the footy match. It was Collingwood versus Carlton. And my first at MCG. Iain is into footy in a big way, and is doing auskick. Soraya was there with her collingwood beanie and scarf.

We set off after auskick by tram to the MCG. At the MCG we meet up with Brentons mates. They are there standing around a barbecue next to a ute. This is Dave’s invite (pievblueinvite03.pdf). We stand around, chat, beer, sausages and kids kick the ball around.

The game was tense collingwood were shocking in the first quarter. S kept saying they will come true in the final quarter. B was grinning. Than in time the mood changed and it was Rocca all the way.

Water Studio

Provo: No Sewage Pipe
Approach: Slow down the circulation of water.

There is little water to go around. Cities do not seem to have a problem with the amount of water coming into their properties – is there a water crisis you wonder. In rural areas there is very little and often no water. People are making do with little and being extremely frugal. If this situation were to be imported into cities – what would we have?

The studio is based upon the proposition of ‘no sewage pipe’. Which raises the question – what would happen to the products and systems of homes as we know them if there were no sewage pipe. The task is to visualize a ‘home’ that is not allowed to send water out of the property.

A&D School
Industrial Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture
Other studios: Canberra, …. Caroma, Catalyst, …

SV, MD?, FH?, EC?
John Gertsakis
Hugo Davidson


  1. Crash Assignment: 2 weeks
    1. Say no to water alt
    2. Impact assessment
      1. Bathing
      2. Shaving
      3. Brushing
      4. Washing
  2. Water Practices Study: 3 weeks
    1. Field work
    2. Water consumption study
  3. Design: 8 weeks
    1. Systems Design
    2. Product Design
  4. Exhibition and presentation: 3 weeks

On Water

There is very little water going around in India and China. And people have developed strategies to deal with this. What if we tell the stories of these strategies – ‘how to have a bath in 10 lts of water’. And use this to redesign our infrastructure for bathing.

Wandering Albatross

The story is told of an Albatross that has been looking fo a mate for 40 years.

Albert may have been blown of course by a 1000 miles and has been wandering around the coast of Scotland – looking for a mate.

See: Is this Albert – on a 40-year flight of fancy?

I have three books open

And I am just desultorily dipping into them. Even as I cry over Edward Tulane’s fate. But that is not one fo the books I have open – that is Sophie reading to the kids.

I have Tully open. Then I have Jacques Leslie’s Deep Water – I am stuck in the Medha section. Angered at Rinki’s retort over the phone that Medha was not in anymore. I have Yunus’ ‘Banker to the poor’ – and Esther’s comment that he charges really high interest in his Grameen Bank.

But what passion still.

Great Civilizations Update

Its 5 weeks to go before I fly off on the first of the legs of the Great Civilizations journey. Andy has been working out the best fare options for Kath and Fiona. We are to go separately – and they are going budget – which gets them to Ahmedabad at 2.00 AM. And I will stand in the 30 plus summer night and wait for them.

We had both of them over for dinner yesterday. Rob was here too. Rob had done India as the test case last year. And he loved it – and hated the absence of night life.  But he had some interesting stories to tell about buying alcohol in a dry state. I kept quiet for the most part – asking if K/F thought they would like to do the ‘elitist’ India tour – which is what Rob did in some ways. But I had set up the semester differently – as a huge dip into the magic of NGO India. And the students saw and heard of projects, and passions. Is it really relevant for a design student in Australia – this involvement in the ‘facing up to poverty’. Cant they continue to be blind to it? Is it not okay for them to say – Ah but that is not my problem. No sir not my problem at all. Thats India’s fault that it has so many poor. It has not got its act together. But then it didn’t ask for a millenia of fecundity and fertility. That is tragic.

Reading Tully today I remembered Esther’s father speaking about him – and his compassion. Tully asks himself how he lives with poverty – just the way everyone else does he says. But he is not cynical – his everyone is not just the chardonnay set of New Delhi. It is all of us – all over the place.  Sweet I say.

But have I pushed too hard? I look at the students – they want it easy. And I am letting them discover things slowly. But that is irritating too. Cant it all happen quickly?

Last week I said – ‘Oh but we are doing different things’ and I did not speak of the ‘project of India’. A project to transform a country in the shortest time possible – with an eye on history. For in India you are always watchful of the long periods. To be wise is a gift.

I also pushed the Indian students too hard to contribute. Who am I to ask anyway? But that apart we have some significant cultural issues here. I will back off now. Private worries and quiet silences.

No Internet up there

Iain heard today that Sammy, Helen’s dog, had to be put to sleep. Sammy has stomach cancer and and this was the best thing for him. This made Iain very angry – and he said he wished he could die so that he could be with Sammy.

Very soon we got embroiled in working out the logistics of how he would find Sammy up there. For there are many people and animals who die and it must be pretty crowded up there. Could you ask and check on the internet perhaps. ‘I am not sure they have internet up there I said’.

Wonder if they do have internet up there.

Site Map

The Whole Recycling project has many aspects to it. I plan to slowly work my way through the different topics …



  1. Livelihood
  2. Uniforms
  3. Job Specs
  4. Training
  5. Women


  1. Collection
  2. Transport
  3. Segregation
    1. Community
    2. Camapign
  4. Sorting
  5. Storing
  6. Auction
  7. Infrastructure


  1. Composting
    1. Vermicomposting
    2. BioDung
  2. Metals
  3. Platics
  4. Paper
  5. Batteries
  6. Hazardous Waste
  7. Medical Waste
  8. Yard Waste
  9. Hard Rubbish

CEQ 61%

The CEQ scores came out yesterday. And finally Industrial jumped to 61.

On CEQ: The CEQ is the course experience questionnaire -‘The Graduate Destination Survey (GDS) collects information about the activities of graduates after the completion of their degrees. The Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) gathers data about graduates’ perceptions of their higher education experience. For each university the GCCA analyses and reports these data to DEST. The Government uses these data to assess and plan for the needs of the higher education sector. All universities in Australia take part in the GDS/CEQ survey.

In short the CEQ score defines how well a program is doing, how satisfied the students are, how competent the teachers are and so on. And baldly good CEQ scores are to be aspired for.

Industrial Design at RMIT has traditionally had below 30% scores. Which basically meant there was a lot of talk of the program being shut down. This of course did not happen – scare tactics.

Now for my three years as the captain of the program the CEQ effectively dominated the charter. Current myths will also say that I was hired to do something about the CEQ. The program’s learner centered program was there to do something about the CEQ.

So nothing happened for two years. And last year it jumped from 29 to 61. Which in some sense says to the university and DEST that the program has turned around, and is doing something right.

I will have coffee with Helen today – and we will unpack this further. I will also suggest coffee to Barbara – who has stood by me and said she likes the way things are going in Industrial. And in this way I will get closure to my project of ‘constructing industrial design’.


And of course the irrepressible Brian said yesterday – ‘you know the only place it can go from here, dont you’. Meaning down. But thats just typical Brian.