Monday, May 16, 2011

My house has perfect Feng Shoe

"First we build walls to bring space in. Then we go to live within that circumspection. We are so inspired by that limitedness (which we call a house) that we even don't mind paying the mortgage for the rest of our lives. In order to convert brick and mortar into "love and beauty" or in other words to transform a house into a "home", we bring things in...lots and lots of things till the place looks either like a museum or a junkyard (depending on the housekeeper's sensibilities). Circumscribed, limited and bound, we lead lives thinking this assembly of walls and stuff around is security, home and life. What a rat's life", so on and so forth, I rant
as I continue to move my chair towards cleanliness and thereby godliness. Will someone tell me how I managed to gather so many things around me? I feel like the sum total of things I (we) have accumulated over the years and I am including my children also in this feeling of "accumulatedness". I keep remembering this famous line from Silsila, "hum yahan kaise aa gaye?" "How did we arrive here?"
There is a small 3x3 foyer ahead of the main door and believe me....its four days since I attacked that space and I am still not done. 39 pairs of unusable shoes and slippers, 19 pairs of carefully folded and completely mismatched socks, 8 vials of shoe polish dried beyond Sahara, a tangle of shoe laces, two packets of rice powder (!), clippings of my column (rightly housed next to slippers), three tool boxes (bought afresh each time because we didn't know it was here in this shelf), two pairs of expensive skating shoes (again bought twice because GPS to them wasn't available), two gaudy flower vases which we possibly kept for sentiment reasons but well hidden and forgotten in that shelf and some God pictures (!!!). All this stuffed into two shelves and the space above the upper shelf. I am not done sorting it yet. How, how, how at all did we arrive at this very Feng Shoe place in life? And now I remember the milk woman's complaint about having to place the milk packets right over a pile of shoes (predictably gathered) on the doormat. The pile was there because there was no space in the shelf and also in the morning I didn't have to bend down to retrieve the packets. I could just open the door and pick the packets on the pile from arm level. So convenient, so back buddyish and just sho(e) lovely.
So now things to do-
a) I have to dispose all these shoes, which I have now moved into my car's boot. I have to either donate or avail that discount which a local shoe store gives for old shoes when you buy new ones there. "Fling shoe for that perfect Feng Shui". How does that sound for a byline ;) eh? Or should I say "Boot the boots from the car's boot"- is that too much to boot?
b) Buy a milk box and place it on the grill so that my coffee does not smell like Bata showroom.
c) Remember not to use that rice powder in my dosa.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rome may not be built in a day, but it can be unbuilt in hours

The Wah-Wahs
Can you believe this? I actually sold the cot, found a safe and loving home for the two spool players and even gave the ailing tambura for repair. All this in a day. And very very coincidentally Pattu (a vegetable vendor from my childhood days) turned up at my doorstep and I have harnessed her to help me sort and fold the clothes. This will happen today. :)) I hope to give the DVD player for repair too.

The Bah
I returned from giving one of the three tamburas for repair and sat down to tune the other two, which had all their strings intact. Very respectfully I lay the orange instrument on the mat and turned the knob ever so gently when PING, the string snapped. When I inspected the other black tambura looked like it needed an entire change of strings too... :(
Aarrgh! Why didn't I check out before I made that long trip to the music shop?

The Aah!

Is this a worthwhile exercise? Must I spend so much time on something which is going to curl back to its primordial state before I can say Semmangudi Srinivasier? Can a house ever attain that alpha state of peacefulness and orderliness? Must I invest energies here when characters in my book are fleeing and running amuck?
:) I should be asking these questions, but I am not and I am not going to. Scepticism is boring and experimentation always exciting. I am liking this process :) Very healing, very cleansing and very very energising.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What you don't need, don't keep. What you need, keep it well.

I look around me, I look around my house and the truth hits a home run. The truth is that I am keeping things I don't need and what I need I am not keeping well. The truth is simple and hence simply true too, if you know what I mean. I took stock of just one room, which has a largish bed, three tamburas, an ektar, one wardrobe (tucked behind a door), a couch and the TV. All three tamburas are out of tune, one has few strings less, the poor ektar shorn of its only tar (string) resembles a spittoon, the couch smells of coffee and beer farts, the bed completely broken on one side is bolstered with two months' collection of newspapers and a door from the broken toy rack (which is in another room so we won't count it in here), the TV rack has three remotes for the same TV (to play sha-boo-three before picking the correct remote), my wardrobe is spilling clothes from another era where 60 kgs was your entire body mass and not the one-foot-on-weighing-scale-minus-jeans-weight reading. Atop the wardrobe is an old spool player which my husband worked to its bones during his music restoration crazy days. I particularly want to see it go as I believe music from that machine has permanently injured my cochlea and the vestibular system. In other words, I can't hear well or comprehend well, thanks to that 40x40" machine. (Others wanting an excuse for their imbalances are welcome to rent/hire or buy that machine off us). The curtain painfully pale on the sunny side of the window is buttoned to the grill and not hanging from a rod like a respectable curtain. There are two dozen cords and wires rising like creepers on the wall to activate a home theatre and a DVD player that last worked when Titanic was the film of the year. All this usable-yet-unusable stuff in just one room, which we call a "low maintenance" room. Phew! I can't venture, even mentally into the kitchen, the store room, the lofts and god save me, the children's room. And I am not even going one light year close to taking stock of relationships. I am Ekalavyan sure that, in that department too I am keeping lot of things I don't need and those I need I am not keeping well. I think for the first time I have to grant it to my husband who has always claimed and warned that my irreverent, devil-may-care approach (aka "maire pochu" attitude) to people, career, relationships, money, material possessions and just about everything will come back to bite my bum one day and that it would be one hell of a Shylock bite costing me a big valuable pound of flesh close to the heart. As things look, I think only Captain Jack Sparrow will approve of me. What's there?
So here is what I am going to do. One room at a time, I am going to clean out, set right, take stock and bring to order. I really, really, really am going to ruthlessly throw things I don't need and I am making a promise that what I need, I shall keep well and in circulation. First thing first, a) I am going to set the tamburas to tune. Next, repair or give away the ektar. Find a home for the spool player. So music thingies are taken care of.
b) I think I want to sell the bed. Its a 7x8 bed with a good mattress.
c) My clothes.....friends and cousins are welcome to take what they want. But I don't know anyone else who dresses or wants to dress like me.
If any of you want any of my stuff (bed, spool players, whatever else of the above mentioned) do let me know.
I hope to finish this room eventually and systematically address other rooms in the house. Readers, friends and foes, wish me luck. Egg me on. Keep in touch. Hold my hand while I do this. I call it the day of reckoning. I really feel that I have been unavailable to my house at a "matter" level. My knowledge of physics says that matter and energy are the same. So when we shuffle, rearrange and refresh matter around us, we energize our environment.
Be with me as I do this. I will come back to tell you of my progress, my dilemmas and above all the healing which I hope this exercise would give me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Of rainy days and stupid family feuds

I wonder at life and how maximum scope for confusion and chaos is embedded in minimum intentions (not even actions). It was raining and gloomy and generally the 13-odd gathered family members were convinced that only hot jilebis would make them stop feeling like rats in a Chennai sewer on a rainy day.

“No. Not jilebis. Let us have pakoras and hot tea,” some young voice objected.

“Adenna pakora? (What pakora?) As if you are a North Indian! Say pakoda. And why tea? We will all have coffee only,” snapped Jagga (who had never adjusted to his name Gajendran being shortened to Gajja and eventually

reversed into Jagga. “Kollywood henchman name,” he often bemoaned.)

“What is your problem in life? Pakora or pakoda, it all tastes the same, doesn’t it?”

offered Kishmu.

“Hey! You Kishmu, don’t talk okay? I know why you are interested in pakora. You are trying to catch that block 6 Neena Thadani’s attention. Till yesterday you were saying

pakoda and now suddenly it has become pakora for you, eh?” shouted Jagga.

“Hello, hello! Jagga, stop this. You can’t randomly talk about Kishmu this way. You know how well he paints?” intervened Kishmu’s mother making us all stop for a full minute to wonder and exchange glances on what on earth the connection was!

“Hahahaha,” laughed Nattu, Jagga’s son. “This reminds me of the nouveau riche Iswari aunty. I bumped into her the other day and asked “How are you?” and she replies, “Oh! I removed my jewels just now,” Hahaha! What is the connection?”

“Chee! Why do you speak to the likes of Iswari? Do you know how they became rich? Her husband… forget it. For the wrongs they commit, their daughter should elope with the neighbour’s car driver or some such random guy and hurt their feelings,” snapped Kishmu’s mother.

“Your own son is ready to elope with Neena Thadani… can’t you see how he is calling a pakoda, pakora?” Jagga snapped.

“Kishmu, what the hell is all this? Who is this Neena Thadani girl? Her very name sounds like she has thunder thighs,” Kishmu’s mother boomed at him, sounding a bit like thunder herself.

“Will you people shut up? I met her just once to give her sister Reena Thadani a letter from our Nattu,” protested Kishmu.

“Hear, hear, hear,” clapped the other 10.

“Stupid. Why didn’t you just use email?” snapped Kishmu at Nattu on the aside.

“What the hell? My son is sending letters to some pakora family?” rose Jagga who was now really beginning to look like a Kollywood henchman.

“Peace, peace can we now decide if we are making jilebi or pakora… er sorry pakoda?” my mother the ever affable peacemaker tried to find a footing.

“No, no, let this be. We are already feeling light and much better,” said the remaining 10 members, applauding and encouraging the mindless fight.

“Kishmu and Nattu, come here. What is happening now? Who are these girls?” both parents of the delinquents demanded.

“Ayyo Appa, I said pakoda, didn’t I? Not pakora like Kishmu, did I? Isn’t that proof enough that I have no feelings for Reena, pleaded Nattu.

“Why the hell are YOU saying pakora then? You love Neena, eh?” Kishmu’s mother turned upon her son.

“Ayyo please, she offered to model for my painting free and in return I offered to make a portrait of her without any pimples,” explained Kishmu.

“See?” said Kishmu’s mother, proudly turning to the group feeling completely vindicated and relieved.

“So dumb! He is just reeling something from a pink face cream advertisement of a chap painting pimple-less faces. Beware eh? In the advertisement, the painter finally draws a ring on the girl’s finger…” the mischief-makers threw in their bit.

A huge fight had erupted when thankfully the doorbell rang and everyone (momentarily) sat back like good little children. It was the local confectioner.

“Pakoras and jilebis, for anyone here?” He called affably.

And that’s when the shit hit the fan.