Laurie Baker : A Different Architect
The City of Books
Mars, Our Neighbour
Staying Hungry to Feed Others
MARCH 2001 Contest
Words from the Quran
IT was rainy season. It rained so hard that all the people of the town stayed indoors. The farmers fed all their cattle and chickens inside their shelters for they did not want them to wander out in the heavy rain. The rains were welcome to the farmers, for good rains meant a bumper crop in the next season. The farmers were content and happy for it pleased them to see their fields being watered by abundant rainfall.
Just outside the town was a dense jungle and by the side of it was a river. In the rainy season, the river ran its course downstream and it overflowed due to the large amount of rainfall. The dense jungle was also a home for many wild animals. One such animal was the fox. The fox usually ate by creeping slowly on innocent chickens and pouncing on them unawares. Since it had rained heavily all the chickens were indoors. As a result, the fox had been without a decent meal for days together now.
The rain had stopped for sometime. But the sky above was overcast with dark clouds. It could start raining any time now and this has been my fifth day without a decent meal, thought the fox as it walked alongside the river. Ah... he would give anything to have his teeth sink into the flesh of a juicy fat chicken. The very thought of it had set his mouth watering again. Absentmindedly, he licked his lips to stop all the excess saliva from drooling out of his mouth.
Then suddenly, his attention was drawn to the numerous fishes swimming in the river. It appeared to him that they were swimming to and fro, darting this way and that in order to avoid something or to escape from someone. The fox was very hungry and thought that a nice fat fish would not be a bad substitute for a juicy chicken, and they would make delicious lunch for a hungry fox. But, the problem was he could not hunt fish in water like some other animals. His hunting skills lay in trapping chickens in the town. In the end he decided to give it a try. The fox called out to the fish, “What are you fleeing from?” The fish replied, “We are all trying to avoid the nets that the fishermen have cast out to catch us. For this is rainy season and they are trying to catch a rich haul.”
The fox immediately saw his opportunity, slyly, the fox said, “ Why don’t you come up on to the dry land and be here with me, so that you will be safe from the fishermen’s nets?”
The sly fox did not fool the fish. They replied, “Are you not the one that is known as the cleverest of all the animals? You are not clever! You are foolish. If we were in danger here in the water, which is our home, imagine how much more would be the danger to us on land!
The poor fox sat on the edge of the river bank in despair, not knowing what to do. He realized that his hunger had driven him to daydreaming. He had learnt his lesson from the fish, instead of looking out for food and use his hunting skills on land, he had tried to fish in troubled waters and had failed at the first instance itself!
A British-born architect is changing the look of the Kerala homes by his pleasing touch
By Kayamkulam Yoonus
LOOK at the buildings in these photographs. What do you notice? First they look graceful and charming. Walls are not plastered. The bricks are exposed. You can even count how many bricks a wall would take. There is no plaster on walls.The roof are slanting. Third, there are lot of jalis (lattices). They are in varied colours. Kerala has lot of such modern buildings. Many people in this beautiful state now prefer to build their homes in this style. Most people would tell you that these houses and buildings were first designed by an architect known as Laurie Baker. He lives in Trivandrum in a house which he himself built in this style.
Laurie Baker was born in England and studied architecture in Birmingham. During second World War he worked as a medical volunteer serving the injured in Burma, China and India. He studied the problem of village people. He saw poverty in all these countries and thought that people cannot afford costly houses that involved lot of cement, glass, timber and iron. So he started making houses out of locally available material. For example, earlier when he worked in Himalayan hills, wood was easily available. So he would use more of wood. He also met Mahatama Gandhi who told him to serve the poor people.
He married a Keralite doctor Elizabeth Jacob. When they later came to settle in Vagamon, a tribal village of Kerala, he began using laterite bricks. These bricks are carved out of hills and need not be baked in fire. He used lot of jalis (lattices) for passage of air instead of windows and glass panes. This made houses airy and allowed more light too. People living in humid atmosphere of Kerala in fact needed more air to cool their homes. In other places he would advise use of bamboo if it is grown there. All these brought down the cost of house building by 30 per cent. This was a big relief for the poor people.
Baker himself designed a lot of office buildings and houses. Kerala government got two important buildings designed by him in 1970s. These were Kerala State Languages Institute and world famous Centre for Development Studies(CDS) at Ullur (photo no. 1). Another graceful building designed by him was Kerala Livestock Development Board Building in Trivandrum (photo no. 2).
Baker set up an organization called COSTFORD (Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development) which began spreading awareness among people for building low cost houses. Now Kerala has several thousand such homes, fishing villages, boat houses, and public buildings. You can spot them by their arches, pyramidal roofs, slender towers and jutting out roofs. Whenever you visit Kerala, try to take a hard look. Even their sight is so pleasing.
Largest bookshop in the English-speaking world is a virtual city of books.
Maqbool Ahmed Siraj
ONE is not sure which is the world’s largest bookshop. But perhaps it will not be wrong to say that
Powell’s City of Books is the largest bookshop in the English-speaking world. Come let’s us have a round of this great bookstore. It is in Portland, the largest city in the Oregon state of the USA on the Pacific coast.
But don’t hurry. First pick up a map of the store. This will help you in finding your way around the shop that is situated on one full city block. That means the store has busy roads on all four of its sides. All American cities are divided by straight roads. Thus the city appears as a mosaic of several neat blocks. Powell’s store occupies one full block of 68,000 square feet in its four storeys. Usually a block may have more than a dozen large sized stores.
Powell’s was started by Walter Powell in 1971. He had learnt dealing in books from his son Michael who ran a bookstore in University of Chicago. He later arrived in Portland and set up Powell’s. Now son Michael owns the shop.
Powell’s has over a million books always on display on its shelves. Last year it sold more than three million or thirty lakh books. It is undoubtedly the largest bookshop in the United States. And it sells new as well as used books. Says Steven Fidel, Powell’s Community Relations Manager: “In fact, 70 per cent of our books are either used, out-of-print or rare.”
Powell’s has divided books into 700 categories. Suppose you are looking for books on forests you need to visit the shelf number 614 in the Rose Room. Books on Germany will be available in shelf number 722 in Purple Room whereas the Encyclopaedias can be picked up from shelf no. 506 in Orange Room. I found a shelf full of books on India in Purple Room. But very few of them were by Indian authors.
The store is divided in seven rooms, Green, Blue, Gold, Orange, Rose, Purple and the Rare Book Room. Books are stacked in long rows of shelves. In between them, books are also displayed on tables.
If you are leg-weary after some browsing of the books, you can enter The Anne Hughes Coffee Room for rest and a leisurely look at greeting cards, graphics, novels, magazine and books on gardening. It offers cookies, pastries, other snacks, and, of course, coffee. Powell’s staff is very friendly. In case the book one is looking for is out-of-print, the Book Search Department can find out against a small fee where the book is available. Powell’s can also deliver you book in any part of the world.
Portland is a small city compared to New York or Washington D.C. But Powell’s is a big name in Portland and the entire US. Besides the Powell’s City of Books, Powell’s has seven other stores in Portland. These seven stores together sold well over five million books last year. Don’t miss out on this book bonanza if you ever find an opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Portland.
In case you would like to visit their website, do access: www.powells.com
MARS is Earth’s nearest neighbour among planets of the solar system. For long it has been known as the ‘Red Planet’. After missions to Moon were given up following failure to find any trace of water or life, Mars has been man’s next destination in the space. Here are a few interesting facts:
Mars is estimated to be a 4.5 billion year old planet.
A year on Mars is equal to two years on the earth.
Mars glows like an organge-red ember on the dark sky. But pictures from Viking 2 space craft suggest that it is more yellow and brown.
For long Man has believed that Mars had water. Its surfcace looked marked with huge channels. They were believed to be carved due to rainwater.
But latest information says that there is more of evidence of there being no water on Mars.
Pictures by Viking in 1970s and Surveyor in 1999 show big basins on Martian surface. Scientists guess that there may be buried channels of water. They could be 125 miles wide and more than a thousand miles long.
Of the 30 missions launched by the USA and the USSR (now Russia) to probe the Mars, 21 failed completely. And of the 12 missions sent for landing, only four were successful in landing.
US will now send another mission named US 2001 Mars Odyssey this year. Europe will launch European Mars Express in 2003. Both will try to find out water on surface or under the surface.
Mars Reconnsaisance Orbiter to be sent in 2005 will send photographs that could even show a beach ball.
Martian soil is not expected to be brought back before 2011.
Mars’ north pole is shown snow-capped with mountains reaching up 1.7 miles. It is 750 miles in daimetre while southern pole is just one-third of it and is said to be made of dry ice.
By Shafia Ahmed, Chennai
THE Sahabah as a class were the closest followers of the holy Prophet. We would be fortunate if we really get close to the level of their character. No one can ever match their sense of sacrifice. Here is an instance.
A Sahabi came to the Prophet (Pbuh) and complained of hunger. The Prophet had nothing at his home to feed him. He asked the Sahabah: “Would anybody entertain him as a guest tonight on my behalf?”
One of the Ansar said: “O Prophet of Allah! I am here to look after your guest.”
The Ansari took the person to his house and instructed his wife: “Look here, this man is a guest of the Prophet. We will entertain him as best as we can, and won’t spare anything in doing so.”
The wife replied: “Pray Allah! I have got no food in the house, except something very little -just enough for the children.
The Ansari said: “You make the children to sleep without feeding them while I sit with the guest over the meagre meal. When we start eating, put off the lamp pretending to set it right, so that the guest may not become aware of my not sharing the meal with him.”
The scheme worked out nicely and the whole family including the children, stayed hungry to enable the guest to eat to his full. It was over this incident that Allah revealed the verse: “They prefer others above themselves, even though poverty become their lot.” (surah 9 : verse 9)
Answer the Following
How old was Prophet Mohammed (SAW) when his mother Aminah died?
Name the chapter of the Holy Quran, which does not begin with “ Bismillah-hir-rahman-nirrahim”?
Name the prophet who was swallowed by a whale?
Who were the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest? When did they do so?
Who was the first Indian woman to swim across the English Channel?
When and who was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize? (Hint: Category-Literature)
Who is the famous British pop singer who embraced Islam?
Who is the author of the famous detective series Sherlock Holmes?
Name the instrument used to measure the speed of wind.
Which is the sea in which humans will not sink and why?
Name the first battle fought between the Muslims and the non-believers.
Name the month that precedes Ramadhan and the month that follows Ramadhan.
Please write your answers together with your name, address, school, class, and age on a plain sheet of paper and also cut and paste the coupon appearing on page No. 22. Send your answers by April 10, 2001.
There will be three prizes. The first all-correct entry chosen by drawing of the lots will be awarded Rs. 300. Second will receive Rs. 200 and the third will receive Rs. 100.
The Contest is open only for children upto the age of 18.
Innattuyura ala ashkaliha taqa
Birds alight among their like
Birds of a feather flock together
Courtesy : Primrose Arnander & Ashkhain Skipwith, Stacey International, London.
Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed