Monday, January 29, 2007

Goodbye, Dear Home

If you scroll down a bit, immediately after this post, you will find two videos showing me doing the backbend. In yoga, they call the pose urdhva dhanurasana or chakrasana. Last evening, I recorded myself approaching these poses and uploaded them on youtube.com, and was so fascinated by the results that I not only shared them with some friends but also -- as you can see now -- posted them on my blog. One of the friends, who is a yoga instructor in foreign land, scolded me: "Why do you have to show off?"

There is no denying I am showing off, if at all there is anything to show off, that is. But the real purpose of taking these videos was to capture -- and perhaps immortalise -- the gentle glow of my bachelor's pad which nourished me for six years. In another two days, I shall shift to a new home, after spending exactly 365 x 6 days in my current dwelling. I moved in here on February 1, 2001, after having spent 15 days in a 'mansion' on Natesan Street, which is the nucleus of a lively, crowded planet called T. Nagar. And coming February 1, I shall move out. Is the timing a coincidence or part of some cosmic conspiracy?

When I moved in, I had a suitcase full of clothes, my two-in-one, a huge collection of cassettes. The same afternoon, I went to Pondy Bazaar and boughts two plastic mats, six cushions with red velvet covers, one six-inch high single mattress and a pillow. And one dismantleable plastic table to set up my music system. The books came a few weeks later from Delhi in a huge steel trunk.

"Very lucky house," the landlord and his wife, who lived on the next street, told me every time I went to pay the rent. I never doubted it. In Delhi, I was just a reporter chasing politicians and trying to fork two words out of their mouths so that I could turn them into a 500-word story. I did not even have a proper house of my own there, in the sense it was just a dwelling in a concrete jungle of apartments in Mayur Vihar. It could have been a lodge or a retiring room. Most of my time was spent in the field or in the office, where I stayed on till about 2 in the night exploring the pleasures of internet.

In Chennai, in this house, life began to chase me. I was born again. The skills that I had acquired in cut-throat Delhi, when tempered with the lazy pace of Chennai, worked wonders. I read, I wrote, I travelled, I... well, I did everything I had always wanted to do -- and in great style.

As a musician friend of mine keeps telling people in my presence: "Only if his mattress could speak!" Well, my mattress can't speak because it doesn't have a mouth, but it does have a hole: one night I slept off with a burning cigarette between my fingers, and was rudely woken up to find a blue circle of light on my bed. I quickly poured water, but a hole was punched on the mattress and a scar left above my left elbow.

Next morning I turned the mattress upside down and life went on. If it did have a mouth and could dictate the events it has witnessed, I could write five Henry Miller-type novels -- accounting for each year of my stay here. By the sixth year I had bought a Kurl-On mattress and subsequently -- after marriage -- a proper bed. The old mattress came to the hall on which I reclined and blogged -- which I am doing even now, typing with just one finger.

The best part about living in a one-bedroom flat is that you are never really lonely even if alone, and if you have company, even if unwilling, the cosiness of the place eventually drives you to desired results. Resistance becomes very difficult when you are confined within the glow of soft lights, andd with alcohol in your bloodstream and R.D. Burman or George Baker playing in the background. And the resistance was not always on part of the woman.

But there have been many, many occasions when I have felt lonely -- mentally and physically -- in spite of the cosiness. In fact, when alone, I've always slept with a bedside lamp on -- unless I've been too tired or drunk to be scared of darkness. But when I had company, the same darkness emitted an erotic glow which would either lull or exhaust me to sleep.

This is the house where I discovered Somerset Maugham and where, after reading his books, I stared at his hypnotic eyes on the back cover for hours in drunken stupor, hoping to bring him alive by my gaze and make him bless me to write as beautifully as him. This is the house where I wrote and rewrote, a million times, the first chapter of my proposed novel. It is a different matter that I never progressed beyond the first chapter. And this is also the house where my dream of writing a book came to the doorstep of reality -- too sad that the dream would actually be executed in the new house.

And this is also the house that found me a wife. Left to my own devices, I could have never found one: either there were too many to choose from, or no one to choose from. Either way, I suffered. But the kind souls that haunt my flat paved my path: and even before I realised, I was married.

"The foundation stone of this building was laid by the Shankaracharya of Kamakoti," a neighbour recently told me. She was referring to Chandrashekhar Saraswati, a truly holy and gentle soul compared to his successor, Jayendra Saraswati. "People who stay here automatically have his blessing. Anybody who has stayed in this building has been very lucky."

I knew what she meant, and the very thought of leaving the building just because I had to find a bigger house just because I was now married, was heart-wrenching. But call it the blessing of the late Shankaracharya or a conspiracy of cosmic forces, I found a bigger flat within the same building. That's where I will be moving in two days from now. The flat I lived in all this while is numbered 'K', and the flat I am going to live in now is numbered 'L'. Is that a cosmic indication that I've progressed a step further in life? I don't know yet.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing you'll still be in the same house?
- RS.

Rekha said...

Wish you good luck. Hope the skills that you achieved from this home will take you to newer heights.

Anonymous said...

Does the new house have a good view from the window?? All the best and may new and better ideas keep flowing in.

Shankari said...

Its not really goodbye, is it?

You'll be around the same house and hopefully, be able to achieve much more in the bigger house in the same building.

All the best!

Shankari

visithra said...

have fun moving n good luck to a new beginning at the new place ;)

Anonymous said...

Very nicely penned thoughts, Bishwanath.

It’s not easy to forget one's first love and the house, which after some years/months of dwelling becomes much more than a mere geometric amalgamation of bricks and concrete. It almost assumes a part of “you”. I have felt this pang many a time; while leaving Lucknow, while leaving Mayur Vihar, and while leaving Delhi. This time, when in Delhi, I made it a point to go and see the house with which I had many memories associated. Good that it was empty.

Strangely, even I am all set to feel this pang once again. Oh! is this a coincidence too??

Krishna Shankar said...

Very nicely written. All the very best to you.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Thank you all, for the comments.

Sindhu said...

Once again this is terrific writing BG.

Anonymous said...

Sir,
I am Shams (Bhopal). A request. Can you please sms me your number and Kanpur's residence number, which I have lost. My cell is 9826171347

ncr.engineer said...

Good luck on your move BG.

dharmabum said...

maugham wrote masterpieces. one of my favs is 'cakes and ale'...

BG doesn't really have to be like him, does he? if u ask me, BG writes equally well, in a style that his very own :)

the building by the way - i am desperately on the look out for a place, and being single, its one hell of an ordeal. so, mebbe u shud recommend me to you ex-landlord? :)

gyal said...

Your writing is lovely, as always.

The Ugly One said...

may be, you are moving out of `K's loneliness into `L's socialist struggle. maugham and kanchi, truly a heady mix.

Anonymous said...

It’s intriguing yet interesting how we get attached to inanimate things! It’s been a year I moved out from a flat I shared with my landlady and her daughter. But that house often pleasantly haunts me. It’s strange but I terribly miss the walls of the house, which never questioned me, the windy nights, which would put poultice to my guilt’s, sorrow, regrets…