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.