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Laurie Baker turns 90

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A MOMENT TO CHERISH: Laurie Baker and his wife, Elizabeth, on the occasion of the architect's 90th birthday celebrations in the city on Friday.
A MOMENT TO CHERISH: Laurie Baker and his wife, Elizabeth, on the occasion of the architect's 90th birthday celebrations in the city on Friday.

Special Correspondent

Friends and well-wishers call on him at `The Hamlet'

Thiruvananthapuram: Veteran architect and pioneer of the low-cost housing technology Laurie Baker turned 90 on Friday. Friends and well-wishers gathered at `The Hamlet,' Mr. Baker's house at Nalanchira, to wish him a happy birthday. The release of a book titled `The other side of Laurie Baker,' penned by his wife, Elizabeth Baker, was also held.

A shamiana was erected on the terraced slope leading up to the house, and chairs to seat nearly a 100 guests were placed. The staff at the Centre of Science & Technology for Rural Development (COSTFORD), the non-Governmental organisation founded by Mr. Baker to promote low-cost housing, busied themselves with receiving the guests. But as the time for the small function drew near, COSTFORD director P.B. Sajan announced that Mr. Baker's health condition would not permit him to come down the steps. The ceremony was shifted to the hall adjoining Mr. Baker's bedroom where `Daddy,' as Mr. Baker is fondly referred to, was seated, along with his wife. Clad in a khadi shirt and trousers, he looked frail and weak but his voice remained clear as he struggled to overcome a failing memory.

Mrs. Baker helped her husband cut the birthday cake and gave him a piece. Then it was the turn of his well-wishers to present him with greetings and birthday gifts. While some brought flowers, others presented him with souvenirs and dresses. Confused by the turnout, Mr. Baker enquired, "Why this crowd?" To which, Mrs. Baker replied, "To wish you on your birthday."

"How old am I?" came the next question. It was the turn of Mr. Baker's daughter to provide the answer. Asked to receive a copy of the book authored by his wife, Mr. Baker wanted to know what it was about. "It's about our life together," she replied.

A group of foreigners from Belgium and Ireland who were in the city as part of a research project were also present. By the time he had acknowledged the greetings of well-wishers and received gifts, Mr. Baker was visibly tired and was helped back to his bedroom by his daughters, Vidya and Heidi, and son, Tilak.

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