“BEING AN architect is tough,” admits Sangeet Sharma, architect, poet, teacher, author, musician.who delves into the journey of professional practice through his novel, Castles in the Air: Misadventures of a Profession. Released on Saturday evening at the UT Guest House, Sangeet opens the novel with a prologue to the book, “Architecture is one hell of a profession.” Though a work of fiction, the novel, says the author, speaks of the ground reality of being an architect. The book, a satire on architecture, is written by someone who knows the “brutalities of life in architecture and life itself”.
The frustration of dealing with clients and their general distrust with architects, unprofessional contractors and suppliers, the lackadaisical attitude of the education system, in the novel, it all gets reflected through the protagonist, who goes through the pain of the profession. “I have followed the writing style of A&D i.e. Appear and Disappear, where different characters in different milieu of this professional journey play their part in that particular segment or chapter and leave, and yes, it is replete with humour,” explains Sangeet, an award-winning architect, who has to his credit five books on architecture. Many, he adds, may not agree with the depiction of the professional pangs. But, in the real world of architecture, a creative professional may find oneself stifled, about which Sangeet writes in the epilogue, “We are immortalised along with our buildings.”
From life in architecture college to interesting observations about the many layers of architecture, the book also highlights Sangeet’s love for the profession as he read out from the book and also gave an absorbing audio-visual presentation, highlighting the many humorous aspects of the novel. “There are many disappointments, too, for you are expected to cater to demands you may not believe in, the traps of any profession,” commented Sangeet, adding the book is about real people and an interesting mix.
The book, adds the author, is not for architects alone; it is for clients who initiate jobs establishing worthy projects. It is for builders and contractors who execute them; it is for the craftsmen and the masons, who, by the dexterity of their hands, create magic in detail. It is for the services consultants and allied engineers who ensure the smooth functioning of the buildings. It is for the sculptors, painters and artists who induce art into architecture. It is for the students of architecture who will be in the profession in time to come and should be well-prepared to face the challenges ahead.
Agreed renowned and respected architect S D Sharma, Sangeet’s father, commenting how Chandigarh has only a small group of architects and the need of the hour is better interaction among them to understand what’s happening in the field. “One quality that an architect must possess is the art of writing, to talk about the world of architecture. The book is replete with wit and makes one think of our profession, what we do and our experiences in the profession. You feel the book is about you and it will motivate you. It’s hard and painful when you have to suppress your creativity and I feel architects must have the courage to do projects that they believe in,” summed up Sharma.