I have always had this thing about playing house. Seriously. The hours of thought and worry that would go into decorating my room, choosing bedsheets, etc as a kid simply astound me now. When in hostel, I really wanted one of those embroidered wall hangings. But then I realized they were too expensive. I was sad, until I had a brainwave–I would buy the affordable cushion covers, stick them to chart paper and voila! I think one of those is still hanging somewhere in my parents’ house (a.k.a. The place everything I own eventually ends up).

It’s no surprise then that when I moved out on my own I was thrilled to bits about setting up house. The first time I did it in New York, I inherited lots of furniture, and had a very kind aunt who bought my these gorgeous red glass plates (I still dream about them). It’s the only time in my life I have ever owned wine glasses. No, wait, I own a pair of very delicate pale blue ginormous balloon glasses that I’m terrified to use and are–yup, you guessed it–in my parents’ house. Anyway, those wine glasses were mismatched and weird, but I had em! Now people come to my house and sniff at the fact that everything I give them will be given in white plastic glasses. Nice ones haan, but nonetheless. What can I say, yars of experience! We had gorgeous blue glasses in college, and they all died. And there were my Spanish cow glasses in Hyderabad–yup all gone now too. So Dragon and I bought twelve white plastic glasses, which were divided up in the divorce, so I have six. This annoyed Lithium so much that he went and bought me a set of whiskey glasses. Aw.

Wait, where was I?
Yes, moving out.
So then I came back after my first semester, for Appa’s 60th birthday, and while I was here I went to Fab India, did some converting to dollars and went NUTS. I schlepped it all back to NY and then had to go to IKEA to get curtain rods, and then flirt with the maintenance guy to have em put up. Eventually though, I had my gorgeous curtains and I lived very happily until the day I had to pack and realized they wouldn’t fit. I called my friends and, nearly sobbing, said, raid the house. Whatever you like that’s Indian, take it. It makes me happy though to think that bits of my NY life live on.

Then I moved back, and set up house with Mungi. We went MAD. We bought a steel pressure cooker (still using it baybeh) and Amma spluttered, BUT WHY DO YOU NEED ONE IN STEEL??? We waited and waited and bough the most perfect cane dining table to fit in our tiny living-cum-dining room, and the perfect squishy, fabric covered sofa-cum-bed. We didn’t really buy much else. When our house broke up, I just bought her out, and then when OOF moved out, BBot and Disco Dancer took the couch while my parents found room for the dining table.

When I moved to Delhi, I didn’t bring too much. Except a carton of mugs and glasses. Yeah, I have this thing for mugs. Especially interesting ones or sentimental ones. There’s the half of the pair Mungi bought when we moved in. There’s the ones The Scientist got me from Our Name is Mud before I left. There’s the St. Stephen’s one and the NYU one. There are the ones various friends and juniors have given me over the years in college. Then there are my Mexican glass glasses, and my Pier 1 martini glasses, and the aforementioned wineglasses. I brought some–some remain at home for morning chai when I’m visiting. But that’s all I brought of all my house stuff. And my life since I moved here has been SO shaky and unstable that I was terrified (not to mention too poor) to acquire anything. (Expect, yup, mugs. Especially cos work has the most GORGEOUS merchandise!)

The flat that The Dragon and I had was pretty great. It was big and airy and fairly well connected, with lots of light. Except my bedroom. Which had no windows. And except that we couldn’t ever keep our windows open or lounge on the balcony because it was right on the first floor over the main Munirka village road, which meant it was constantly reverberating with dust and noise. And yes, because of the mill downstairs, this went on all night. I’m not complaining though, we had a gigantic kitchen WITH A FAN and tons of furniture Dragon’s parents donated, and I was very happy until you know the shit hit the fan.

So then I moved again. I was desperate, with my budget and terror of living alone, because I couldn’t find a decent place that had light and air and a reasonable person and was located in  nice area. Suddenly and miraculously I found my current place, and the Psycho showed no symptoms at the time, so I moved in. I put my lamps in the living room. The horror. She moved them into hidden corners. I put my vase on the sideboard. I found it inside my room when I came home. I got it. It was HER house and I was a visitor. Never mind that her decor consisted of shiny plastic streamers hanging from a cord across the wall, and a scattering of what appeared to be stuffed dead sparrows that gave me and everyone regular heart attacks. The sheets were vaguely coloured with wild floral patterns and mismatched. The piles of cushions were not for using because I was sternly adjured to PUT THEM BACK HOW THEY WERE if I ever used them. The dining table was ‘rustic’ and badly painted and had an uneven surface and was too high. I could go on.

And then she moved out. After some serious panic about what I was going to do, my parents stepped in and did their thing and I calmed down. Then I realised I had to acquire furniture for a large two-bedroom DDA flat. And a fridge. And a gas connection. (We shall never speak of that gas connection again. KILL KILL KILL.) I totted it all up and figured it would just be cheaper for the parents to send me some of my stuff theyw ere storing than to buy everything again, especially since I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to be moving out of Delhi anytime soon. And so it came about that my dining table came back to me, and my father’s bachelor bed that used to be in our balcony came with it, along with random furniture and crockery and a motley crew of table linen that my parents saw fit to send. In fact my mother even threw in an open and half used roll of cling wrap. Yes, seriously. Then I ran about for a while and acquired curtains and chik and so on.

And now, finally, my house looks the way it should.

Mind you, it’s a royal pain in my ass. The plumbing regularly airlocks between 7 and 730 a.m. so while there’s water when I get up, the minute I put on the geyser to shower bam, byebye. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes, like today, I have to give up and call the plumber when I get home. Half the windows don’t open or don’t close or their panes threaten to fall out. The drains are all badly closed and I did have a rat for a while. There’s no lift. If I come home after ten, I don’t know where or if I’ll get parking. The water comes between 6 and 7 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m.. Far from perfect.

But I love it not just because of my sense of ownership. It has a huge airy balcony. The giant living room has a wall of windows looking out onto said balcony. The dining room has wall to wall windows too, and now they have curtains and chik they are great in the summer too. It’s on the second floor so It doesn’t get too hot, and it gets much sun so it doesn’t get too cool. It’s roomy. There can be three people there and each feel like they have personal space and privacy. It’s big enough for me to have big parties, and my neighbours are sweethearts (touch wood) who don’t object to large groups of people nattering on the balcony late at night, or beer in disposable glasses crashing into their gardens. It really has become a proper house.

Well, okay there is an empty bedroom in which repose the litterbox, the food bowls, a carton and miscellaneous cushion and cloth entities for GJams. I don’t have nearly enough shelf space for anything, forget about books. And my balcony is a wreck. But it is still the most home I have ever had in many ways, and so completely my own that I find that I am SO comfortable living on my own after all that I don’t know what I’m going to do in June when the lease runs out…

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