Adventures in a vacant lot: A new magazine is focused on parking
There are reviews of cities’ facilities, essays on how parking shapes the way residents experience a space, and poetry, fiction and photo essays too.
Parking in poetry. Parking in the ocean. Short stories of adventure stemming from an underground garage… A new periodical has its sights focused on how cities organise parking, and how this shapes its residents’ lives.
Two editions are out so far: Namma Parking, set in Bengaluru and released in December 2021; and Amche Parking, themed on Goa and released in December 2022. (“Namma” and “Amche” are Kannada and Konkani, respectively, for “Our”.)
“The presence of parking lots and spaces inherently change the way we experience a city,” says founder and editor Radha RH, 23, a public space designer currently living in Goa. “It’s a fact that more parking spaces mean more vehicles, and more vehicles mean we need more parking spaces. Ultimately, there is never enough parking. Which also means we could end up staring at barren land and parked vehicles all around us.”
Radha first began researching the subject for her final-year thesis at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru. She spent time in lots across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Goa, Pune and Ladakh, documenting how people of different occupations and genders use these spaces, and how they become multi-use spaces in cities starved of open ground.
Overall, the parking lots in India’s malls tend to be among the better ones, she says. They are cleaner, safer, well it and designed for easier navigation.
Her annual periodical offers insight into fresh research on parking, new developments in the aesthetics of these spaces, perspective from architects and researchers who live in the city, and reviews of the city’s facilities (based on factors such as cleanliness, accessibility, lighting and security, visual appeal).
From Goa, a story written by freelance journalist Chryselle D’Silva Dias, resident of a 350-year-old home by the Mandovi River, explores the parking conflicts between residents and visitors to the many casinos in the area. In a photo series from the same state, photographer Himon Rai Chowdhury documents how fishermen in Benaulim village dock their boats, in an unchanging tradition that goes back centuries.
An interesting element in the magazines is the fiction. In Namma Parking, it takes the form of a short story about a girl who is drawn to a parking lot by the Bollywood music played by the attendants. She visits every day, to listen to the music. While sitting in a tree, listening in on one such day, she finds out about a smuggling racket thriving in the place, and from there begins her adventure.
In Amche Parking, author Kanishk Devgan inspects how parking lots appear in modern verse, including in August Kleinzahler’s poem, Watching Dogwood Blossoms Fall in a Parking Lot Off Route 46, and Mark Terrill’s song, A Poem for Parking Lots.
The first edition of the parking magazine was available free online. The second edition printed 500 copies and has sold 100 so far, via online orders at ourparking.net. Radha also got sponsors for this edition. And there’s an advertisement in the magazine, for the book Bombay Imagined by architect and photographer Robert Stephens.
Through the magazine, Radha says, she wants to make people aware of the ways in which India’s cities are changing, before they become barren landscape like many American cities, where as much as 40% of public realms are just parking.
Where will the next issue be based? “Singapore, maybe,” she says. “It would be a nice challenge to grow the community beyond India. And Singapore’s take on the automotive industry, including its high taxes on acquiring cars, would be a good study.”