“Lessons,” the last section of this book, consists of two chapters. The first, “Learning from the Pop-Up Megacity: Reflections on Reversibility and Openness,” by Rahul Mehrotra and Felipe Vera, focuses on lessons learned from this megaevent, highlighting the need for flexible responses to the ever-changing flows of people, materials, and finance in postmodern cities. The lessons learned from this extensive case study are presented through the attributes of reversibility and openness. The authors point out that the distinguishing feature of the Kumbh Mela is both the feat of constructing a megacity in a short period of time and its disassembly at the end of the event. It is the disassembly, characterized as reversibility, that is key to the success of the Kumbh Mela. The authors propose that reversibility be understood in terms of both material and immaterial dimensions. The Kumbh Mela consists of four interrelated steps—planning, implementation, management, and deconstruction—that allow for the successful completion of the event. The use of a flexible, agile process and appropriate technology (namely low-tech methods that allow a large number of people to be involved in assembly/disassembly) is central to its success. The main lesson is that strategies for disassembling structures should be integral to the protocols for design/construction/management of our built environment. Openness focuses attention on the incomplete, unbalanced nature of city growth and regeneration in contemporary times and calls for considerations of systems thinking at multiple scales to allow for spontaneity, negotiation, and responses to shifting conditions. Ultimately, at its core, the Kumbh Mela is an exercise in place-making that is centered on human relations and activities.
The final section’s last chapter, “Individual Portraits,” by Giles Price, is composed of a series of portraits (without any captions) that allows the reader to respond to the users on a one-on-one basis. The wide range of people showcased (in terms of age, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status, and religious affiliations) conveys the diversity of the Kumbh Mela as a performative event.