AESA’s trips are more enriching than an ordinary picnic and far more enjoyable than a typical study tour. AESA’s Nashik tour, held in mid-November, left the fellow travellers with not only several sweet memories of a rather ‘picnic’ element, but also the fresh and invigorating feeling of having learnt, imbibed, and been with inspiring people and places. In a span of three days and two nights, the group managed to fit in visits to eminent design studios, prominent sites of architectural importance, interactions with architects and artists, as well as a complete tour of a leading winery!

Architect Sanjay Patil, always the enthusiastic and gregarious human being, played the perfect host, and as the Pune busload of architects went from destination to destination, every place gave a bit of something- whether in the form of a learning experience or a delightful moment. The bus full of happy co-travellers began day one of the Nashik trip with a visit to the design studio of Architects Vivek and Rupali Jaykhedkar. The Pune architects were taken around followed by a sumptuous breakfast. With next stop being ‘Environ Planners’- Ar. Sanjay Patil’s own office- the tour was now certainly on mission mode. Ar. Sanjeev Joshi was unable to resist the temptation of opening his beloved sketch book and quickly making a few sketches of the office.

After this it was time to make a stop at the office building of ‘Morphosis Architects’, where the Pune group interacted with the design couple of Architects Aslam and Tarannum Kadri. The studio’s entirety of design elements, with all its surprise factors, was absorbed by the Pune group with more than a sense of pure exploration. The Kadris were gracious in their sharing of details and in their hospitality. The use of light, the louvers, the play of textures and much more had the architects from Pune clicking away; needless to say, Ar. Sanjeev Joshi busied away at his sketch book. Another office was on the itinerary- the new design studio of Ar. Dhananjay Shinde.

As the sun set on the first day, it was time for unwinding, and the dreamy surrounds of the Sula Vineyards proved the ideal getaway, but also again a learning experience. The group was taken around the whole ‘Wine Experience’- from getting a close peek at the wine cellars, to learning about the wine-making process, to the grand finale of tasting the wine and chilling out in the special wine bar, where the quirky light fittings made from wine bottles made for some lengthy discussions!

The next day morning again was reserved for heavy duty institute viewing, and Ar. Sanjay Patil was only too glad to act the guide, as he showed the group around the YCMOU Library, along with its great spans, its masses, its concept, and so on. The memory was captured by eager cameras and sketch books.

Last day was reserved for another round of large sites, and as the group reached the Bhujbal Knowledge city, even rainwashed roads and cloudy skies couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm. With Ar. Sanjay Patil explaining the intricacies of the architecture, academic discussion took centrestage. This visit was followed by a stop at a more light-hearted activity-an art gallery, run by an art loving couple who have poured in their passion and love of art into this space aptly titled ‘Sadhana Art Gallery’. The interiors are peppered with sayings and quotes about art, and landscaped courts and planters are part of the décor and feel of this art gallery.

The reactions from the members of the Pune group were from the heart and spontaneous.

“It was like going back to college…drinking in the knowledge, the interactions, and of course the fun part!” was of course the unanimous sentiment.

A journey serves up several condiments- there is the anticipation, the actual experience, and the promise of educating. The Nashik hosts spared no effort in treating the AESA group to a wholesome combination of design and enjoyment. As someone mentioned with astonished recall, even the after-dinner ‘Paan’ was lovingly provided- such was the hospitality. Understandably, when the time came to leave, it was not without poignant goodbyes and the promise to come again.