Friday, November 16

Wide open spaces

Space, or at least the idea of it, is a funny thing. Growing up, I never had my own room; I shared it with my younger sibling till I moved abroad. And maybe this is a commentary on the middle-class mentality of my generation - I never felt any urgent need for a room to myself in all that time... even during the 'teenage angst' years. When I think of my parents' childhood and remember the 1 BHKs that each of their sizeable families called home, it made my house seem like a palace. And, even though I didn't know it then, the situation gave me two things. Firstly, the ability to adapt and use any space available. Secondly, the trick of losing myself completely in any book I was reading, no matter what yoga asan type posture I happened to be in at the time. Although the flexibility stunts are no longer possible, time being a nasty old so-and-so, I still retain the two former abilities. And boy, have they come in handy.

When I moved to the States for that wonderfully Indian rite of passage known as 'further studies', I wasn't naive enough to think I'd be living in the lap of luxury. But I didn't think I was going to live in the groin of poverty either. As it happened, I ended up in the vicinity of the belly button - close enough to have to share a room and far enough to only have to share it with one guy - Batman, whom I've written about before.

(Incidentally, he is getting married pretty soon, like a lot of my other friends. Guess the missus will get used to sleeping with the lights on as well.)

That room was pretty big, so we each had our own side, with an invisible line demarcating the boundary. The system worked splendidly for the 2 years we lived there, although I did have to live out of my suitcase, and use my huge stack of books as a makeshift table on occasion. But we were 24, it was college and besides, there was always Guinness.

However, when moving back to India, I told myself that no matter what the rent, I would live by myself. Enough was enough. Then I reached Bombay, spoke to a few brokers and gently recalibrated my expectations. For the next 3.5 years, I shared a 1 BHK with a room mate. And here again, let me reiterate - space, or the idea of it, is a funny thing. It was not a large house. Within 6 months of us moving in, the kitchen wall had seeped so badly, it looked like slightly fishy paneer. It was incredibly dusty. Twice, the overhead tank burst, flooding parts of the house. It did not even have a washbasin. There were a lot of centipedes. Also a few lizards. And let's not even mention the incident of the rat.

But I thought it was great, simply because of everything, barring the house itself. It was close to the station, close to my friends' houses, close enough to the pubs and restaurants (Lemon Grass, I miss you so!). So, I stubbornly stayed blind to the deteriorating state of the place, caught up in the fever of having a semi-decent house, at an awesome rent. As a bachelor, I figured the one room I had to myself was more than enough space. But it happens. At least in Bombay.

That's until I was forced to move thanks to... err, extenuating circumstances, shall we say? You've probably read about it previous posts anyway. Anyway, I now live in a lovely place, in a leafy, quiet neighbourhood. For the first time in a long time (I lived in Cambodia alone for 6 months), I live by myself. And I love it, both the house and the amount of space I have in it. Let's face it - as far as space is concerned, I've done the hard yards for a long time. Now, I get to really appreciate it.

Song for the moment: Freedom and its owner - Kings of Convenience       

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