Balconies have always been important to me. I love balconies. I think they are windows to the world outside, from where you can look out, all the while sitting in the safe comfort of your own home. They are sanctuaries, where you can grab a few moments of peace over a cup of tea or a plate of bajjis. They are in-between, neither inside the house nor outside, a place where you can escape to when the chaos inside the house gets too much for you, and you don’t really want to get out of the house. They make the house outward-looking, I think. Without a balcony, a house would be isolated from the rest of the world, cut off, very inward-looking – of course, my own two cents only, meaning no offense to anyone else. For this very reason, I do not like balconies with grills – they make a house safe, yes, but they also close out a lot of light and action and air and love and make the house, well, suffocating.
I especially love balconies that do not face dead, overgrown plots of vacant land or the back of someone else’s house. I like my balconies to look out onto a road, possibly, where there is a little action – just enough action, mind you, not too much. My ideal balcony is one where there are plants (flowers and a small patch of herbs and some vegetables), a swing and a little nook where I can sit and think and create.
Considering my love of balconies (thankfully, the OH shares a bit of this love), a road-facing balcony was one thing we always look out for while we are looking for an apartment to live. We had three balconies (three! yes, a rarity these days) in the place we used to stay in earlier, and a long road-facing one in the place we shifted to last year. It took us quite some time to set up the balcony garden in the house we presently live in, but now, I can safely say we are almost 70% done. The garden still needs a lot of work to bring it to the shape I want to bring it to, but at least there is some semblance of a garden now, there is a sanctuary in the house for me to go to, there is a little place that fills my heart with joy.
I am happy to say Bubboo seems to love the balcony as much as I do. It is the first place she heads to, as soon as she wakes up in the mornings. It is where she sits and watches the older boys and girls in our apartment play in the evenings. It is where I sit and talk to her about the different kinds of things that we see around us – from dogs and cats to vegetable vendors and trees and flowers. It is where Bubboo sits and watches the rain. She often eats sitting out on the balcony. I sometimes read to her there. We like basking in the sun on the balcony, on days when it is not too hot. We like watching as our neighbours wave to us in the balcony, and waving back to them. We like watching as butterflies and squirrels run in and out of our plants, searching for food. I could just go on and on and on!
Balconies have always, always been a place of solace for me. Our balconies have seen a lot of action. They hold a whole lot of fond memories for us. They have been a place of sharing our own kind of love, of bonding with each other. They have been places of sustenance for us, providing us with some home-grown ingredients for our food.
This new place is slowly, very slowly, beginning to feel like home. We are apart from the rest of the OH’s family now, very far away, but we are slowly finding friends here, bonding, building up relationships. I hope, with all my heart, that we soon forge friendships and relationships of note here, and that our balcony here goes on to witness a whole lot of special, little memories.
So, the OH has been away working in Delhi again, and I have been feeling like an army man’s wife all over again.
Recently, the OH sent over some toys he had picked up for Bubboo in Delhi with a friend who was travelling to Bangalore. ‘He will come home and give you a bag,’ the OH told me. ‘There are some toys for the princess, and there is a little something in there for you too,’ he said. ‘For me? What?,’ I asked curiously. ‘Just go through the things in the bag. You will know what I have sent for you,’ he said. And so, I waited, with bated breath, for the friend (and the bag!) to arrive home.
When they did arrive, I found what had been sent for me – a pretty pink toy rose with a pink handle. It is a battery-operated thing, with a tiny bulb hidden inside the rose, glowing when you turn a switch on. The rose is beautifully made, with what looks like minute pink plastic pebbles.
I am touched by the gesture. Immensely. I know the OH has a busy life in Delhi. The fact that he chose to shop for toys on a weekend when he was free means a lot to me. And it means even more that he thought of me while doing so, and sent over something to show that he cares.
The rose sits on my computer table as I work, now. It is a sweet reminder to not feel very low whenever I am lonely.
It has been over a week since the OH left on an official tour to Delhi. Yes, again! The Delhi office of his firm is extremely short-staffed at the moment, and the OH is having to face the brunt, knowing the ins and outs of the transactions going on there thoroughly. The Delhi weather has been, infamously, bad and this trying period has taken a toll on the OH. Indirectly, it has taken a toll on me, too. The last month or so hasn’t been easy on me, with the OH only popping in home for a day or two before rushing off to Delhi again. Amma has been staying over at my place and, while that has helped, it hasn’t stopped me from feeling an ache in my heart at missing the OH.
‘I feel like an army man’s wife these days,’ I keep telling the OH. I have been unable to share the little things of my life with him, the way I used to. I have been unable to pull him to the balcony after his return from work, and ask him to just stay put with me in the refreshingly cool breeze. I have been unable to surprise him with a tub full of hot water, with salt added to it, for his feet after a tiring day at work. I miss pestering him to rub my feet on a cold morning. I miss the little treats – sometimes a strand of jasmine, sometimes a chocolate, sometimes a packet of bajjis – that he used to bring home for me every now and then. I miss having him to comment on a dish that I have made, which he would do in the most diplomatic of ways.
We used to talk on the phone whenever he found the time, or whenever we simply needed to hear each other, till last weekend. It took a friend’s innocent question – ‘Do you guys Skype when he is on tour?’ – to realise that we have never done that! I don’t know why we never really got into it, in spite of Skype being installed on both our phones! Last Saturday, we decided to try out Skype – the saviour of long-distance relationships, as we have heard many of our friends put it. And, it turned out to be a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Like kids over-excited at finding something new, the OH and I explored Skype conversations throughout the day. And the next day, too. Then, once a day, at dinner time usually, after that. He took me on a walking tour of his guesthouse in Delhi, and showed him the inside of the refrigerator there, which was pathetically empty. I made my afternoon cup of masala chai with him online once, and shared it with him virtually. He showed me the children in his guesthouse surroundings playing football in the rain on the weekend, thoroughly enjoying a rare shower in the city, a respite from the heat. I showed him how the skies in Bangalore, too, were darkening and the clouds were getting ready to pour. He showed me the kadhi chawal he had for lunch one day, and I showed him the saree I was planning to wear to a poonal ceremony in our family the next day. He made me carry my phone to the balcony, so that he could see the plants in our little home garden. He was overjoyed to see the basil he had replanted, before he left, blossoming. I was intrigued to see the sticks of meswak that he had picked up, out of curiosity, on one of his bored-weekend-street-walks in Delhi. He asked for my opinion about the bed sheet that he bought there, and I asked for his, on an amateur pencil sketch of mine. He commented that I had put on weight while he has been away, and I said that he looked darker but fresher without my constant badgering.
Since that day, Skype has become a part of our daily lives, and it has brought some much-needed cheer to both of us. We have sung songs for each other, poked fun at Amma sleeping with her blanket drawn over her face, shown each other our miss-you and happy-to-talk-to-you expressions, and what we have been having for dinner. It hasn’t been able to recreate the warmth of the OH’s hug or his smile, but it has come quite close. The past few days of Skype conversations have been reminiscent of our long-distance courtship days, if they could be called that at all, when he was in Bangalore and I was in Ahmedabad. It has been like falling in love with each other, all over again.
Thank you, Skype. You have changed a pair of stressed-out married adults into gushing teenagers, if only for a brief while every day.
Like a favourite coat in winter
The lining worn
Smooth and comfortable
Safe and familiar
Today is Appa’s birthday. Don’t forget to wish him.
Electric room is kept open for meter reading today.
Milk is in fridge. Thank you for getting the bread yesterday.
In training today. Will not be able to receive calls.
Love you. (followed by the OH’s name and a drawing of a monkey face with a smile)
That’s how love notes between the OH and me read these days, in case you were wondering. The OH left very early for a training session today, leaving a sleeping me and this note on the kitchen counter for me to find.
“What are you working on now, mad scientist? “
“A car? When did you turn into a mechanic from a mad scientist?”
“What a cute Ambassador!”
“You love those old cars, right?”
“Yep. Very much.”
“Go on! Sit in it, and feel it!”
“Wow! These seats are so comfortable! Plump, plump, plump. You can push them back and just relax. Forget about the world.”
“That was the intention.”
“Have you thought of putting in a TV? It would make this car so much….more cosy.”
“This car doesn’t need one.”
“Why are you going all mysterious on me?”
“Can I open my eyes now?”
“Just two minutes more, please. Hold on!”
“Okay, but why don’t you tell me what the big surprise is?”
“You’ll see. Very soon.”
“That looks just like Turkey, from the coffee table book I have!”
“It is Turkey.”
“Eh? Gone crazy or what, mad scientist?”
“No, I haven’t. And, yes, this is Turkey. An isolated, very pretty part of Turkey, that is.”
“Kid me not. You can’t drive to Turkey from India, that too in just 15 minutes.”
“Yes, but you can fly.”
“What? Now I’m sure you’ve lost your marbles.”
“Put your head out the window and you’ll know.”
“Woah! Why are there so many gas balloons on top of the car?”
“They helped us fly here.”
“In a battered old Ambassador car?”
“They just did.”
“I can’t believe this, mad scientist.”
“At least now, you should.”
“Yes, now that I have checked with my own eyes.”
“LOVED it. How can I not? Turkey was a dream for so long!”
“Worth the effort then!”
“I can’t believe you just proposed to me in Turkey, mad scientist.”
“Well, I did. And you said yes.”
“I still can’t believe it.”
“That was the plan.”
“I can already see tomorrow’s headlines, mad scientist. Mad scientist takes fiancée to Turkey in magic car.”
“When will you stop calling me ‘mad scientist’?”
“I can’t. That’s what I have always called you, since the day I saw you hunched over those test tubes in your lab, your hair all over your face, looking super cute.”
“Yada yada yada.”
“Can I call you ‘cute mad scientist’ instead?
This entry is for the prompt at Magpie Tales for the week.
I wrote this story in a sudden burst of inspiration yesterday, and I am not sure if it makes sense to everyone the way it did to me. Plus, it has been a long, long, long time since I wrote any fiction. Do let me know how you find it! I would love your honest opinions.
I must have been living under a rock so far, because I found this beautiful poem by William Butler Yeats only yesterday. It touched me in a way very few things have in the last couple of months. It resonated with a certain chord in my heart, and I instantly fell in love with it. Of course, it has to find a place on my blog as well.
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
– William Butler Yeats
I know I would melt if someone (*ahem ahem*) read this poem aloud to me. I think it is one of the most romantic things ever written. I hope the ‘Love’ doesn’t ‘flee’, though.
I am one of the very few women in India who have never been alone to their pihar (mother’s house) after their wedding, and who have never stayed put there for weeks on end, leave alone months. In the three-and-a-half-years in which the OH and I have been married, I have been to Ahmedabad for a grand total of 3 times, always for about 5-6 days, always with the OH. My parents have visited Bangalore a couple of times, and have stayed for a few months, so we have kept meeting consistently.
This is set to be remedied soon. I am off to Ahmedabad the next weekend, for a week, all alone. This will be my first ‘single’ holiday after my wedding, and that excites me – sadist, the OH tells me. 😛 I know I am going the miss the man sorely. Twice out of my 3 visits to Ahmedabad, he has managed to land at my parents’ house before me, and has come to receive me at the airport. He loves to needle me by telling me that he has already tasted the ‘specials’ that Amma has prepared for me and that they are yummy. Darn the man! (I have always found later, though, that he has refused to eat without me each time in spite of repeated protests from my parents, because it is rightfully my house and I should be the first to taste the special dishes and comment on them. :P) I am going to miss all that needling, for sure.
I have set about making a list of all the things that I want to do in Ahmedabad, and it just doesn’t seem to be ending. I don’t even know if all of that is going to be possible in a week’s time, but I am sure going to try. Meanwhile, I also want to relax at home, talk endlessly with my family, meet friends and sleep till I lose all the stress that has been piling up on me of late. There is a horde of places that I want to visit and a series of food items that I want to get reacquainted with, from very specific places in the city. I have realised, in the course of my planning, that I have never really ‘seen’ Ahmedabad as a tourist. I have never really explored the various parts of the city as a tourist would do – thinking that I could visit them any day. I hope I rectify that during this visit.
I plan to visit the places that the OH and I visited on his first trip to see me before marriage (those where the days when we were still a very shy couple and did not know much about each other). I plan to (ahem!) wear the same dress that I was wearing then, to try and recreate a bit of that magic. 😀 Yes, I am silly like that!
Amma has strictly instructed me not to bring anything – not even clothes – from Bangalore, and to just come with 2 big, empty bags. Apparently, she has readied a lot of things to be stuffed into these bags, and she wants to make sure that I carry them all. Appa is busy making his own list of all the eatables he is going to get me while I am there, and all the places that he wants to take me to. Patti is eagerly looking forward to see me and talk to me. Oh, and the OH has given me his own list of all the things that he wants me to get from Ahmedabad, too. In the midst of all this, I am just hoping I don’t end up looking like an inflated balloon when I am back.
I know I am going to be there for just a week, that time will fly, and that I am only going to my parents’ house, but I am fraught with a lot of different emotions at the moment. I hope the visit turns out great. Fingers crossed.
4 years! Really? Where did the time go?
Feeling darn excited since I got up. Want to do something special and surprise the OH, but haven’t gotten around to thinking of anything or doing it yet.