Dinner is served

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The dining is in continuation with the sitting area, and it also has the Temple wall while looking into the kitchen on the other side.  This allows for us to cook and have fun, even when there are many people around. If you remember, I mentioned that we have friends who love to cook and eat; well the last time they were around, we did just that. Six of us sat around the table, buttering breads, and singing loudly, while four of us danced around the kitchen while the food was prepared!

The dining is a very good example of how we used A’s family legacy. This wood is also a legacy of A’s ancestral home; cupboards, cribs, windows, benches used for making sev (dry snacks), and everything wooden lying in the corner room was put into a truck and brought here.

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Every once in a while A talks of this joIMG-20150612-WA0003.jpgurney. What he remembers the most is the road from the truck’s windscreen, moving through the dark night, only what was lit up by the headlights visible and stars peeking through the leaves of trees on either sides. Of course, most of the road had a lot of traffic and was more like playing videogame on big screen!

The dining table is wooden with two wooden benches.The wall behind the dining has two wooden ledges  initially meant to hold all sorts of condiments necessary to a meal, which is now represented by a couple of anchaar bharnis (ceramic pickle jars) we picked up from the street side on our way back from a road trip.

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There is a miniature brass tea set, and a brass cooking range with cylinder, a wok and a pressure cooker, the first thing we picked up when we went to shop for accessories and hardware fixtures for the home.

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A miniature brass panther leaping towards an invisible prey (from Cambodia), and a fiber baby elephant waiting for its mother on the kitchen ledge(previously introduced in the kitchen blog named “let’s cook!”) ridiculously co-habitat the dining ledge.

A couple wine bottles from the “sand and shell” upcycled series specially designed for a previous project, an old pic of baby A and his family, a red wooden oriental design bell and a small white bird cage that I picked up from Bandra, linking road while on a prowl with friends adds a little vintage romance to the ledge._DSC0323.JPG
The ledge also hosts timeless classics like a brass and glass hour glass, that we often use now while playing dumb charades or pictionary, a round marble table time piece with rajesthani enamel and stone work adding royalty and a small dark wooden jar from Siem Reap’s local market.

 

The dining table has a runner, which is what my mum and my aunt now love gifting us,and sometimes it is the Jaipur patchwork, sometimes brocade and sometimes handloom runner that brings in the flavor of the month. A random visit to a bamboo workshop en route Mumbai provided us with the triangular hot plate holders, which double up as gateways and tunnels for our toy cars and stuffed animals to pass through.

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There is some kind of flower arrangement on the table on most days, and it brings in a lot of warmth and cheer, a tray with black earthen glasses holding chopsticks encased in bamboo sleeves, and colorful glass bottles from Crawford market while on a client visit make up the rest of our dining space.

More often than not, the dining table is used by us for playing board games. My brother comes to India once a year, and he has to bring something for Ma and me. So he brings these really pretty wooden handicrafts for Ma, and for me he brings award winning board games that he has had fun playing with his friends; now our place has become a board games hub for all our friends, and we often end up playing into the wee hours of night, sitting around the table, fighting over whose turn it is, cheating a little and at the end of the game confessing to it; all in all, a lot of high energy with loud bouts of laughter, some cookies and milkshake around the table!!

Let’s cook!

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Eating at home is a luxury, as all those who have stayed away from their families would agree to. Both of us come from families which love to eat, and every meal is a mini feast. In turn, we love to cook, and have friends who love to cook. My family shifted base to Hyderabad as I had just started with high school, and making new friends seemed scary. During our first visit to one of my father’s colleague’s place, S unhesitatingly called me into the kitchen to fix lemonade, and I knew we were destined to be friends forever. Since then, my definition of a kitchen changed; from a boring workplace, it became a place where we hang out.

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Thus, we have spacious platforms which we try to keep uncluttered so that I can sit and chat, while A makes the salad for dinner. Drawing inspiration from our favorite kitchen pictures, we have ledges full of fancy mugs bought impulsively from different parts of the country, small artifacts (again gifted for various reasons), cutlery and wooden ladles. The many appliance that we need (or one of our many well-wishers think we need) have been allocated places inside the cupboards; a charcoal barbecue oven (a house warming gift from friends) being the only exception, as it looks like a small yellow UFO, which adds a bright splash of color in the kitchen, which is mostly grey and black.

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There are some ceramic achaar bharnis or pickle jars, which A insisted on picking up while on a road trip, as it reminds him of the times he used to sit in his Grandma’s kitchen and eat the mouth watering jams, jellies and pickles. There are a couple of bamboo mugs, which we have never used and beautiful oriental inspired designer tea cups with lids which we use to keep the achaar! A conical Cambodian farmer’s hat picked up on our trip to Angkor Wat has also found its way into the kitchen!!

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The wooden ladles are a birthday gift from friends who know our love for fancy rustic elements and love for cooking while the jar holding it is a wedding gift to start us off into a new journey, and has finally found the place it deserves.

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There is a ceramic biker girl and biker boy kissing each other salt and pepper dispenser, given to us by my cheeky cousin who thinks it’s humorous that we both have individual two wheelers, and this apparently defines our love story.
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There is also an ornate elephant in muted colors made in fiber, a wedding gift which holds a rustic charm, and its counterpart, a baby elephant waiting by on the dining room ledge, a wedding gift from my grandparent’s neighbors in Kolkata.
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On a ledge on top of the fridge we have Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Shree Ma, a legacy from my mother when I first shifted into a hostel, overseeing our meal preparations. A basket of small stuffed animals have also made their way into our kitchen, all gifted one at a time for various reasons.

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On the fridge we have a lion hanging on all fours (which was a gift to Ma from my brother and that I pocketed when she wasn’t looking!) and a dangling “das Mädchen” as my father calls it (loosely translated as “the maiden” or the country maiden), which reminds me of one of my favorite childhood dresses, which my parents got from Germany while coming back! And the fridge also has magnets from the places we have visited, along with an auto, a bus and a taxi, finally some Indian magnets I feel happy to own!

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The other bright corner being near the kitchen window, where small buckets with money plant have been hung on the top of the sink (A has constant tussle with the daily help for keeping the soap and scrubber on the platform as well).

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We knew we had achieved our dream when, during the first house party, we often ended up just hanging around the kitchen while someone fixed the drinks. As Sh remarked, “This is the happiest place to hang around, munching something, and really breezy!”

And they lived happily ever after…

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dsc_0077So finally, we have ended up in this house; our house, after
months of struggle (read: running for loans, pooling in resources, fighting over design details, finalizing agencies and meeting deadlines); and spending whole days standing on site, while A played around with the wooden pieces (of course, this playing around produced the furniture we love). It took a toll on our lives as well; we slacked at work, slept late and got up later, stressed over finances and project completion; in fact, we had to shift into the still incomplete flat as the lease for our rented place was over. But finally we are here, and we have the house to ourselves; putting in the final touches and loving the feel of it. It feels lived in and it feels like we belong here.

Truth be told, we never really planned to buy a house so early in life, it just happened to us. But that didn’t stop A from putting in all we had and much more. Being architects, just moving in was not an option; we had to make it ours. dsc_0023An elaborate dream list was drafted and we set to work. Like all Indian households, we needed lots of storage (and no, the top of the cupboard does not count!!) and the kitchen needed to be spacious and be equipped to cook up a storm whenever occasion required. We wanted conversation to flourish in the common area, hence relocated the television to the small bedroom, and converted it into a lounge. Since the master bedroom has an attached toilet, it has become the walk-in wardrobe for the entire household, with all the cupboards, and the other bedroom is the designated designer’s abode, where we happily spend entire weekends lazing around and reading books!

But what is interesting is that we have a story about every space and every element of the house. We have a habit of holding on to old things, and love the memories they store. Our training helps us to refurbish, redefine, and finally upscale them, and we have used this skill extensively to hold on to family relics which are hidden treasure box of stories. This is a story of all the little stories that we have weaved into our everyday life. So happy reading!!

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Carefully crafted…

254526_10150288162500931_7915622_nWe were born in the age of telephones, and though our grandparents and distant uncles still wrote letters to us, we haven’t ever had to learn the art of letter writing. We didn’t have to. Whatever we wanted to say was just a phone call away. And the easier it became to make a call, the further we went to penning our thoughts down. We became careless about what we said and took offense on what we heard. There was nothing to fall back upon. Memories became distorted, till we found a way to store every moment of our lives in our pockets. Intimate moments needed to be picture perfect, like fairy-tales, and so we started to weave our moments around the picture. We became lesser than the moments captured, and feelings became a tool we played with..

It’s been some time now I’ve been wondering, how words used to cherish our feelings in those carefully crafted letters. Letters that we cherished all the more because of the long wait, the anticipation, looking for the postman every morning. Letter from your mother telling you about the nest in the courtyard tree, or your grandfather reminiscing about football with his brothers in the long forgotten village. The nostalgia of finding a yellow worn out letter in your favorite book with times long gone, but with the hint of rose.  Of all the arts dying in this world, the loss of letter writing is the close of an era.

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Eternity!!

DSC_0702Shall I write of the moon and the stars, or about the birds playing hide and seek amongst the leaves? Or should I write about how the plant they had given up for dead has new leaves budding again? Each moment in itself seems like an eternity, with thousands of parallel stories vying with each other to be heard, while a few small ones remain content to lay hidden, till someone cares enough to hear it out, like the tiny green potted plant!

The plant was a peace offering, from an anxious husband to an irate wife, and had brought a smile that lit her face up, and the warmth spread to his heart. Now they bickered over how much manure was to be given, and whether it got any water that day or not! The plant blossomed under their inexpertise, and brought them together in a whole new way. When they moved, they decide to leave it as a legacy to the place they had called home for what seemed like an eternity!

 

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Fairy tales

all pics 219Isn’t it funny? That when we grow up, our fairytales become chick flicks? Or is it only the popular culture that has robbed us of the magic? Why do we now have to believe that to be happy, we need a big golden limousine? Or did we grow up with the wrong stories? Of princesses and unicorns? And forgot all about the heartwarming tales of children playing in the fresh air? Stories that inevitably thought that too much or too little of ambition ruined simple pleasures and stole the joy out of living. Stories that taught us that there is good in every person and the villains are people to be pitied. But one thing that age teaches us which is that being happy and being attached is not the same thing. Embrace everything, but don’t get addicted. Addiction cripples imagination and innovation. Loving without addiction is detachment. Detachment without loving leaves us cynical and eventually embittered. It’s an art worth cultivating.

Work from home!

It’s been a long time since I had an urge to write. To be honest, I am here today only because I saw the journal, and felt a wee bit guilty. The thing is that there is just no time. Or let’s put it this way, there’s plenty of time, but I just can’t manage it well. I want to do so much, and all of it all at once, it’s like god forgot to the basic planning  software in me. I want plants in the garden, with fairy lights entangled among creepers. I want every inch of the wall to be filled with sketches and every room filled with flowers. I want clean kitchen and neat cupboards (I also want this to happen magically by on its own). I want to play and swim, and go for long walks on the beach, have a cup of coffee while reading a book. It all is so idyllic. The trouble is, often when I would make myself coffee, I would be too busy imagining how idyllic it would be to sit in the veranda, reading the book and sipping coffee, to really get any time to read the book. Then the outside would be so distracting with crows on the tree and dogs on the street. Often, I would end up reading a couple of pages, without really taking anything in at all. I store movies on my hard disk, to watch when I have time. But when I do have the time, I spend it day dreaming, about all the wonderful things I would do. And the cycle starts again.

Maybe, next time, sometime, I’ll have something more to write about, than my rumbling thoughts…..

A warm summer afternoon

One day I will write a story. There will be flowers and sun, and water and green, and it will be oh! so beautiful! The moonlit roads would be walked by lovers holding hands and antique windows framed by bougainvillea would glow by the light of the candles. Peacocks will run through shaded courtyards, and girls in colorful skirts will laugh and dance, while the men in sober hues would pay compliments with their music. Grannies would sing lullabies and children would fill the air with their innocent laughter, and the gentle aroma of freshly crushed spices and barbecue in the open.

Oh! If only I could pen down my thoughts! But, no words come to my mind when I sit to write; it’s only when I let my mind go free, and just lie on my bed, thinking about all the things that could be; when there is no book, or tv, or work, and I just sit in a corner, images flash through my mind, one after the other, waiting to be strung together in a thread. Oh! One day, for sure!

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Kshanbhangur

It feels like a long time back now, during my school days, I had come across a short story in Hindi. I do not remember the name or the author of the story, or even its content. What I do remember is this word, “Kshanbhangur”, and I am haunted by it; not in a tormenting sort of way, but the word keeps popping up in front of me now and then, when I’m sad or happy or just excited. It gives me hope, stops me from putting everything in one basket, makes me smile, makes me be patient, and tells me to be cautious, all at once and separately as the situation arises.

“Kshan” means a moment; “bhangur” I think means fragile, or destroyable; hence the word “kshanbhangur” means that which lasts in the moment, and would be gone in the next. It is like all my relationships, intense when they last, but they fade away and leave me stranded. But the truth is, if I try to hold on to them, they become futile and troubled. What’s broken can’t be mended, the fault lines remains. Sometimes, they dissolve. You miss them, but you can’t have them back; they are gone forever, they remain in your memory alone.