Sexy is as sexy does. Vous Etes Sexy has Juhi Pande profiling and interrogating people who are minding their own (sweet) business.
Who is Juhi Pande? She’s someone who sucks at bios. She likes rockets, Chuck Palahniuk, train rides and astrophysics. And she wants to be a writer when she grows up. This week she teases Basrai about his namesake among other things.
But first, here’s what she had to say about Ayaz:
It’s very difficult to encapsulate Ayaz Basrai in a few sentences. To begin with, he is the founder at Busride Design studio, but after that all the lines get blurred. Ayaz does all those things that come at you on random tuesday afternoons but you do nothing about them. Restaurants, installations, apartments, sets, food, maps, films, studios are some of the things that Ayaz dives into head-first. Also, he seems quite attached to his hammock seat.
Ayaz loves Bandra and I’m pretty certain Bandra loves him back.
I. Juhi: Basrai, Busride, I get it, I get it.
Was it an impromptu naming or had you thought of it for a while, then formed a studio, then nonchalantly named it?
Ayaz: Truth be told, it was my name during ragging in University and it sort of stuck. So the name has unholy beginnings, like Genesis. It was my mail ID for ever, and when the time came to select a name for our fledgling studio, it was a no-brainer. I also was really sure it had to work for all of us, my brother and dad included, and i guess an unholy tag works best. But i find myself lying about it constantly, I make up whatever story comes to mind when i’m asked. So this conversation has killed it for me now. Damn you Juhi.
II. Juhi: Are you from N.I.D? Do you/did you have a chip on your shoulder because of that? Maybe a smirk?
Ayaz: Hahahaha! Snide. I know the chip you refer to though, and it’s on lots of shoulders from lots of universities. I think it has something to do with identities, for a large chunk of people the University they went to becomes their primary identity. I’d like to think my “NID” identity is mediated by my Bandra-ness, and my job, and my other side-order stuff i’m doing, so hopefully it’s more a medley. But it’s an amazing institute, you can watch peacocks dancing while in class, so yeah, maybe a smirk.
III. Juhi: What was a regular day like for you when you were 9? (Feel free to be as descriptive as you want)
Ayaz: I’m blessed with the shittiest of memories, so just a few snapshots stand out. My Dad made me lots of budget toys, that risked my life and limb on a daily basis. He once made me a skateboard from plywood and metal bed-castors. It actually made more noise on the road than 20 Harleys starting up. He also complied with a request to add a steering wheel onto my Avon BMX, which i proceeded to steer/ride/generally hang-onto down Kane Road at Mount Mary. So it was essentally me asking him for cool stuff, and Dad making them with whatever materials he had lying around. He’s awesome. Oh and sitting on the wall at Hearsch bakery and giving everyone best-of-luck thumbs-ups every evening from 4 - 8pm. I was the most uncool person i knew.
Juhi: What are your plans for The Busride Design Studio?
Ayaz: The Busride is an exercise in organized chaos, and we take on project purely based on how interesting they are. Its really a mixed bag, we find ourselves juggling a studio personality that’s defined by diversity, and constantly fighting any recognizable approach or style that emerges from project to project. Im always amazed at how much the studio’s work is defined by things we’re reading, or places we’ve visited, it’s really really organic. The fun part is that we’re not hung up about creating a “brand”, we could shut it down and call it “Shit-toast” and i don’t think it’ll change anything. The Busride is really an umbrella and a platform for us to do shit that we’ve always wanted to do. We try to articulate a playfulness in most projects, it’s something we’ve recently discovered ourselves, so it’d be fun to take that into the public domain. A walk by the sea should be as inspiring as a visit to a museum, and waiting at a bus stop should be as much fun as going out dancing. No rules. We hope to take the Studio into the public domain as much as we can!
V. Juhi: I know you belong to the hashtag generation because of #ShitSrilalSays. Tell me more about Srilal (the driver in Delhi who owns an absurdly old ambassador car) and why he is so important to you.
Ayaz: Srilal is the cusp. He is Superman. He knows carnal truths about the Universe, and doesnt believe that they need not be spoken. He is the Haryanvi Socrates, he is Plato’s plateau. He knows the truth about the Punjab National Bank. His Punjabi baroque is the only fitting response to the Italian renaissance. He is the Black Dove. He is the Anti Christ and the Return of the Prodigal Son. He is a Himalayan master at Rs.1400 per day. He is at +91 98189 26197.
VI. Juhi: What is the Gypsy Kitchen and what does one have to do to get in on the pikey plans?
Ayaz: The Gypsy Kitchen is a food and heritage conservation project, that was one of the spin-offs of the first phase of the Bandra project our studio’s been involved with for the last 3 years or so. The idea is to create a micro-economy around food and cooking, to generate funds for homeowners, our beloved aunties, grannies and mums, and create a supplementary income for them, which goes directly towards conserving the built form of the Gaothans and villages in Bandra. It’s a simple project at it’s heart, and gives me a chance to collaborate with my closest friends (Riyaaz and Gresh, who I run the Kitchen with) in a free format experiment. It’s really liberating for all of us, to experiment with something that is free of commercial expectations. We serve, we wash dishes, and we document the process. It’s super fun. The project is up on Facebook, so do check on details about the next kitchen there!
VII. Juhi: What is your take on raunchy Bollywood dancing at weddings/house parties?
Ayaz: I think it should be taught in schools as a life skill. It’s the only dance form that goes truly well with being drunk, nothing else quite cuts it. I’m articulating a new sub-genre called Minimal Raunch, that is a hybrid energy-conservation meets Pelvic-jerks kinda movement. It’s going to be a thing.
VII. Juhi: You recently mapped Bandra all over again and took people on a walk. As per usual, I wasn’t in town and couldn’t make it. What was this mapping/walking all about?
Ayaz: Well, the essence of the Bandra project is to make the suburb more pedestrian friendly. We’ve been researching this is in a multi-headed kind of way, in an effort to understand what’s going on. We’ve seen a HUGE correlation between the surviving Heritage fragments and notions of pedestrian friendliness.
These areas already have low compound walls, good setbacks from the road, more green cover than others, and are generally shadier, nicer, more interactive schematics to study. If you think back to the nicest walks you’ve had, where you felt the most safe, where you saw kids playing in the compounds, or someone calling out to you from a home, you’ll know what I’m saying. These are very tangible city experiences, and can ALL be “designed”, it just takes a little more thought.
So the mapping and walking helped us understand these features and trends, to map out exact correlations, in an aim to create hard data for use by various agencies working in the field. For example, If you’d like to green up certain areas, the first thing you need is a map to figure where to plant the trees! So we’re putting up all the research free to download, and also working on some definite spin-offs from the study, like a builder resource, and a small handbook about building in Bandra.
VII. Juhi: What do you think of autorickshaws? Should we get rid of them, get a mini bus service and have people walk more?
Ayaz: Well, first up, their handles need to be replaced by steering wheels. Steering wheel = larger turn radius = no zipping/cutting like a bike = easier roads. Having said that, the total amount of Autos on the roads probably need to be regulated, but they’re awesome. I actually have a commercial Auto-rickshaw license too, and drove one at night for a week from Perry road, so I personally love them. Bombay auto-guys are the New York cabbies of our city, they will educate our children more than our schools will, how can we do without them? Soon they’ll be playing better music, and all will be well with the Universe.
VIII. Juhi: Do you have a favorite doodle? What is it? Mine is Reggie mantle and a five-petal flower.
Ayaz: My default is The Dirty Old Man. I draw twisted older versions of myself pretty regularly; I have over 1500 of these future-portraits. Still trying to figure what I’m doing with them, but what the hell.
IX. Juhi: There is a nuclear holocaust. You survive. What is the one inanimate object from your apartment you’d wish wouldn’t sublimate?
Ayaz: My hammock-seat. Reclining on it in a post-apocalyptic world would be THE SHIT.
X. Juhi: What was the last book you read?
Ayaz: Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
XI.Juhi: Amongst all your projects do you have a favorite?
Ayaz: Yup. The Smoke House Room / SHRoom. It was the bravest project I’ve had the fortune to be a part of, and it’s fundamentally changed the way I look at my work and myself. SHRooms do that I guess :)
XII. Juhi: What’s the sound of one hand clapping?
Ayaz: Phwwwwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip Phwwwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiipppp. (There’s also a “ffwwoooo” in there somewhere but cant figure where )
Words: Juhi Pande
Image Credit: Ayaz Basrai