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Behold! The Nightmare

One of the rarest creatures in Bombay is someone living by themselves. In a city plagued by inflated rents and insane population density, not sharing 1BHK or even that vile excuse for a residence, the 1RK, is considered a luxury. And the person is branded a spendthrift.

It's a facial expression that can't be missed. Tell someone you live by yourself and watch their bottom lip curl outwards and their head simultaneously do a wiggle. Their eyes have a teasing gleam; read between the iris lines and you can clearly see them mentally say "what an idiot". Having lived by myself for a while now, this familiar rigmarole jarred. Doubts started to creep in. Was I being foolish? Selfish? Was it healthy to not only live alone but also relish the feeling? 

Moving to the U.S was my first exposure to the sometimes Kafkaesque world of room-mates. Having neither the shekels nor the spunk to live by myself there, I learned to come to terms with their varied eccentricities. It was a valuable lesson in compromise, though random flashbacks of the filthy bathroom and kitchen make me break out into cold sweats occasionally. When I moved back to Bombay, once again money talked. And what it said wasn't pleasant to hear. However, I lucked out by finding a room-mate who happened to be a childhood buddy. It wasn't ideal but it worked smoothly until he left. After which things took such a nasty turn (you can read up on Norman Bates in my posts from 3 years ago) that I finally was pushed into finding my own place. 

While I enjoyed the relief and freedom of living alone, I could feel Bombay's eyebrow raised in disapproval. Until I landed up at a colleague's place in Andheri last night after the office end-of-year party. Or, to use its real moniker, the free booze and bitching session. Due to some complicated logistics of travel, returning home wasn't feasible. So, 3 of us landed up at my colleague's 1BHK.

The instant I entered the house, an extremely familiar feeling of horror began to crawl up my spine. Now, before I go any further let me just clarify that my colleague is the nicest guy in the world. A happy-go-lucky chap without a bad bone in his body. But his house was/is an abomination. It is the quintessential bachelor pad. Mysterious cartons and boxes all over the place; a sofa that hosted roaches, bedbugs and other assorted entomological nightmares; a clothes stand groaning under the weight of damp clothes; dodgy stains and cup rings on every conceivable surface; a persistent smell of old tobacco; doors that did not shut properly, a toilet from hell; and of course, some random blokes who also happened to land up there for the night, courtesy his other room mate. 

As an assorted menagerie of semi-clothed, wheezing guys kept walking out of the inner room, I seriously considered whether my colleague's room mate was Dr. Who, and his room the TARDIS. I just didn't see how they could all fit in there. Perhaps one or more slept in advanced Yoga poses. Anyway, the living room was already occupied by a heaving mass of flesh whose stentorian snores would have put the wildest of boars to shame. Having no other recourse, the rest of us crunched indignant limbs into positions that certainly weren't in the Kama Sutra and tried to snooze. Unfortunately, as the background score was Krakatoa in human form, I did not sleep a wink.

At 5 am, someone walked into the room, put on all the lights, proceeded to rummage through the clothes stand and the shelves, rooting for his stuff with all the finesse of a pig looking for truffles. After that, I curled up in a ball and waited for divine mercy, who arrived when Krakatoa rose (erupted, more like), put on the kettle for tea, roused my colleague and within 45 minutes, had us driving off to Pune in his car.

Much as I hated it, I will be eternally grateful for those few hours spent at my colleague's place. Because, I now know that it was a fantastic decision to live by myself. The next time I see the lip curl, I can confidently cock a snook at the morons and ignore their judgments. 

Someone once said that no man is an island. Well, he never said anything about choosing to live alone on one. Which is what I shall do with head held high, happy in the knowledge that for me, room mates are overrated.

Song for the moment: Bullet with butterfly wings - The Smashing Pumpkins


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