Houses and Homes – Part 3

Do you feel this constant need to change or fix perfectly serviceable stuff around you? I do – I get bored of seeing the same old things around me everyday. So I simply have to change my entire wardrobe every six months. (And that’s a mighty expensive habit in the US unlike in India, where one can still get away with it, with some smart shopping and good bargaining skills.) Ditto with the home decor. Why should my blog template be any different then?

So last night I trawled though WordPress templates, trying different patterns, customizing colors and background pictures and widgets and tedious stuff like that. It was close to midnight but I wasn’t ready to give up. I liked some of the templates but that ‘aha’ moment remained elusive. Until I chanced upon my current header pic, browsing through some old albums. A beautiful warm and sunshiny picture, all light and colors and interesting patterns, I love the cozy and welcoming look it creates. Come, sit down and relax, have a cup of coffee… the picture speaks to me!

And some of you like it too, I can see from the comments you left last night. But it’s not just the beauty of the scene that so appeals to me – it’s the dozens of memories it conjures up that make this an extra special picture for me. It reminds me of the first home the husband and I set up in India, one we lived in for a pretty long (for us!) time, about a year or so. It reminds me of the sleazy brokers and absolutely horrific houses I suffered through before we rented our beautiful home. And it reminds me of the beautiful bitter-sweet, happy-sad memories we made that year in this place.

(Interestingly, there was a time when I cringed to look back on anything that wasn’t rosy and picture-perfect in my eyes. And that would include pretty much everything, wouldn’t you say? So I wasn’t really a fan of this ‘looking down memory lane’ thing at all. Then I grew up (a little) and realized that each of those experiences – most happy, some sad, some bitter and some funny – all of them made me the person that I am today. And I wasn’t afraid to look myself in the eye, was I? I was pretty happy with myself, wasn’t I? Then why not look back on those memories and enjoy them while I still remember them?)

So I am not ashamed to admit, this home was where I made all the mistakes every newly independent young person makes, or so I hope!

This was where I…

…interviewed our forty year old bai, when she knocked on our door asking for work the day we moved in and clueless little me had to struggle to sound grownup and ask all the right questions, fighting the urge to call up Aai and ask her to conduct a telephonic interview instead!

…listened to the same woman bawl her heart out narrating her marriage’s horror stories, terrified to realize that I was the one she was looking up to for a solution and some help, that Aai again wasn’t here to take care of everything as usual!

…discovered the price of a kilo of onions and learned to get the dhania and mirchi free with the veggies and which bhaiya cheated with the change and who had the freshest vegetables in the market.

…remembered to mark the tally of clothes sent to the ironing man on a calendar, something I always forgot to do back home, assuming Aai would somehow know the tally anyhow!

…was puzzled with the alternately angry and alternately sorrowful looks the watchmen kept giving us, until we realized we had forgotten to give them their Diwali baksheesh!

This is also where we befriended (or tried to befriend) the unique mix of characters in the three flats neighboring ours – the slightly scary and very particular aunty in the diagonally opposite flat who I quickly learned did not take kindly to being woken up from her afternoon nap to give the bai our house keys, her good natured husband perpetually targeting us, ‘the young married couple’, with his bawdy jokes and their teenage son obsessed with the husband’s new bike and begging for a ride every time he caught us outside, the other ‘newly married couple’ next-door who insisted on showing us all their honeymoon snaps in the most embarrassing poses imaginable, and the young couple in the flat right opposite us – a geeky and somewhat boring husband, a shy but friendly wife, an amazing cook but rather poor conversationalist, and their adorable two year old daughter who never tired of jumping off the window ledge in our drawing room (the one you see in the header pic) fifty times a day!

And it was here that we experienced firsthand why folks grumble about skyrocketing prices in areas dominated by software professionals – poky little flats on the outskirts of Pune rented out for ten thousand rupees or more, autorickshaw drivers refused to acknowledge the existence of something known as a meter, our neighborhood ironing man, nattily dressed in denims and a Lacoste tee, startled us with a cheery ‘hi’ and a two hundred rupee bill the first time he came home to return our ironed clothes… I could just go on and on about this but I’ll stop now!

And yes, this is where we…

…fought and fought like fights were soon to go out of fashion! (So now you know, M!)

…and then giggled and kissed and made up like the crazy-for-each-other couple I now realize we still were, beneath all the marriage-and-responsibilities-induced-stress!

This is the home I unfailingly decorated with a fresh bunch of fragrant rajnigandha flowers every Monday evening, and a bonus bunch was brought home by the husband to bring a smile on his sulky wife’s face after another (you guessed it right) fight!

All this and more comes to my mind each time I look at the tranquil scene in front of you. Memories are so very precious, aren’t they?

P.S. Just in case I decide to change my header pic again, here is the picture, preserved for posterity!

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8 responses to “Houses and Homes – Part 3

  1. WOW !! That is one fabulous pic there ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m so in love with it now – dont be surprised if you find it on my header one day ๐Ÿ˜€ (Jus kiddin’)
    Your post is so beautifully written that I did not want it to end ๐Ÿ™‚ Such beautiful memories ๐Ÿ™‚ And I could relate to every one of it totally ๐Ÿ™‚ When you start doing things independently, you feel like you do not know so many things, isnt it? But setting up OUR home has its plusses ALWAYS ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. A house is made special not just by the way it looks – which is very important as well – but by the memories we build around it. This places seems really special to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sure M, you can borrow it anytime! ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t it strange to read something we so totally relate to? I felt the same when I read your marriagewala post.

    Thanks Manpreet, it was a nice experience for me to look back this way. And given my atrocious long-term memory, I wanted to record things before I start forgetting!

    Yes D, it is!

  4. First House we lived in has similar memories ๐Ÿ™‚ Lovely post!
    The enthusiasm to do up the place, the getting used to running the house, the maids assuming we are Ms know Alls because we are ‘married’…I think this post will touch a chord with many of us, young and old,…don’t we all go through similar bittersweet experiences :))
    And lovely picture. Makes me want to go through my old albums.

  5. Yes, do that IHM! And let us have a peek too, it will be such fun!

    And you too?!!! Fights and making up and all? I am glad. It’s reassuring to know others have gone through this phase before us, that we are not the only monsters around. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. oops..part of my comment got chewed up…
    So i am recommenting again!
    awwโ€ฆi loved the living room decorโ€ฆ
    I was abt to ask you how you managed to decorate it this way in America, but I must have guessed that it was back homeโ€ฆsuch a nice pictureโ€ฆ

    cherish your memories…particularly ones associated with this apt, as they seem to be special and the ‘coming of age’ kind ๐Ÿ™‚

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