You had me at mosaic. Perhaps that’s what I would say to my new apartment if I could talk to it. You also had me at imperfect walls, a hallway full of surprises, alcoves full of mystery, old-fashioned geysers, naked pipes and wires, book cases laden with tales, never mind the World Books that came as part of the inheritance.
You sang to me at brass taps, a letter-boxed door, old fashioned windows, a mango tree kissing the balcony, jhadoo wallahs, chhuri wallahs and bhaji wallahs singing their daily song and peddling their wares.
You shook me with sulky, brusque, un-uniformed watchmen who have no time for pleasantries, neighbours who walk up to you and say warmly, “I am your neighbour. Welcome to the building.” Who also diligently sort their wet garbage from their dry, lest they invoke the fury of the masked garbage boy, ala the Bandit Queen who will not touch the trash with a barge pole unless it’s sorted.
There is something about mosaic. Yes, it’s imperfect, irregular, and doesn’t always ‘go’ with manicured, sterile, mall-reeking furniture that is so today. But that is the least of my worries, as I am a corner shop girl, and will always be so. It almost feels like the return of innocence to my life, which had begun to be enveloped by the claustrophobia of sterile elevators, people as fake as their Facebook profiles, their excesses as vulgar as their inboxes, their hugs as manufactured as their smiles, their conversations as dumb as their Blackberrys, their lives as camoflaged as their LBDs.
And so begins the story of life in our new abode, where the husband, the child and the cats have each found their favourite spots and duly adopted them. I hope it lasts, at least till I soak in all its idiosyncrasies and weave myself into its tapestry. I hope that this one does not bite the redevelopment bug for a while, like most things we have loved and lost. What the flat has done for me, and for the husband is question our excesses, as we sort our garbage, which has become an interesting morning ritual, trite as it might sound.
At a brunch this Sunday, I ran into an old friend who whined (yet again) that he was still single and when was I going to do something about it. He added that integrity and humour hadn’t got him anywhere and wondered if he needed to reinvent himself, get a makeover, inside out. Which made me wonder: why are men and women so uncomfortable with their mosaic-ness? Why the need to constantly redevelop, like most buildings around us? Why are they constantly trying to smoothen out their edges, bleach their mosaic into marble, conceal their wiring, seal their balconies, join the monochromatic brigade?
Thankfully, I still have mosaic friends. And my son loves its texture, and has asked me to double his floor-time. Because, to him, every tile is a story waiting to be told.