We love to talk, a lot! With friends, family, maids, gardener, cook, and when no one is around, with each other. We argue, discuss, analyze about anything and everything, and we did just that to freeze the front room layout. We had half the furniture ready, and had eaten into the hall to extend the kitchen and build a cupboard opening into the foyer. The hall had to accommodate the sitting and the dining, and our lavish ideas of space wasn’t enough, and so we argued this way and that. Conventional sitting arrangements, with a television set as the focus, didn’t seem to work out, and each placement seemed very rigid. There’s a small balcony at the end of the sitting space, where we wanted to keep a few plants (kind of a miniature version of what my Ma has in her balcony), and we wanted this to be our focus; and then one day, when we had both lost our cool fighting over the advantages of the different layouts, we happened upon a U formation, looking out into this balcony, and welcoming everyone to talk to each other over a cup of coffee!
The sitting comprises of a thirty year old sofa set, bought from Indore by A’s grandfather for their family house for a price of five hundred rupees. It is a set of three (a two seater and two single seats) made of solid teak wood framework with woven seats and back. The weave had long frayed, and what was left of this set was kept in the store room for some years now, forgotten since the new stylish sofa came in. A had to travel with it in the truck, with the rest of the wood scavenged from his house, as the transporters were scared they would be charged for wood trafficking!
Well, now the sofa has been refurbished with soft seats covered with grey fabric, adding a contemporary minimalist look to the earthy tone of our other belongings, a splash of color brought in by my mom’s old red and black silk college time sari turned into throw pillow covers.
The low heighted center piece adds to the theme and is made of sturdy teak joists lined together on a wooden frame. This rest on a four by five square feet carpet, which changes according to our finds from printed kalamkari one to jute handloom woven piece. There are two old teak chairs, simple and elegant, built in A’s village about seventy five years back and the details are worth noticing.
A framed Jaipur patchwork table runner adorns the main wall, and adds color to the room. There’s a square water hyacinth basket converted into a LED lamp, with a small wooden dibbi (container) acting as the holder, hanging in the middle of the room, strategically placed over one of the side tables, with a wooden candlestand right beneath.
The balcony door has cane curtains hiding the sliding doors. A recycled cane curtain lamp stands by the corner stand designated for the telephone, with a bunch of yellow and white flowers in a painted earthen vase to complement the look. There are four Sarangpur wood work corner stands, sourced from a crafts mela in town, so that everyone has a handy place to keep their mugs and bitings. These also gives us more space to play with accessories, all arranged to tell a story, waiting to be picked up and looked at.
The center table has a hundred and twenty years old brass handi (pot) that has A’s great grandfathers initials etched upon it, a purple and black glazed coconut bowl from Cambodia that holds small pine cones and some seeds that I foraged from the woods of a resort in Tadoba, a keepsake of the tiger safari experience, an Absolute vodka bottle with flowers made from the remains of the sari used to make the cushion covers and some dry grass that I plucked on a trek to gorakhgad, and last, but not the least, a scrap metal model of a royal Enfield bike gifted to us not only because of our love of recycling, but also because we love our baby, a very dependable, highly erratic model of standard 350cc bullet.
Our small balcony is where A dreams of having his very own Jumanjee jungle that has taken over the brick and mortar walls, and money plant varieties and bougainvillea creepers are doing their best to reach the ceiling. Ferns spilling out of their earthen pots fill up the balcony with fresh dark green. Small ceramic animals and sea shell and pebbles from the local beach adorn the smaller pots, mugs and bowls kept on an old folding table, another of A’s heritage loot. An occasional deep red hibiscus blooms out every second day. A’s favorite is the dwarf chafa, and our oldest is the adenium, nurtured and cared for by my mother initially, and then handed down to us to build our confidence in our ability to take care of a living entity, which requires our dedication and patience.
Now that the bougainvillea is in bloom, and so are the adenium and the chafa, we often sit and admire our little garden, noticing every little leave and every new bud. A reads his morning newspaper here, and nothing is more welcoming than the serene look of the brown chairs lit by warm yellow light when we come back from work!