Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mosaic musings

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.


  1. this one's awesome! :)
    agree on all counts and love how you've described it all.

  2. More poetic than any of your previous articles. Love it to bits. xo!

  3. I can feel and experience the space. I worry that it may not be the same as in your reality..but it is a beautiful space and I belong there..

  4. thank you akee. that meant a lot.
    and amrita, it's funny what spaces can do to you, right? i didn't quite know how to articulate it, but i always felt that my old apartment was not fertile enough for my mind... this one is

  5. lalli, I look at is as you have met the ocean. I still meander. My home is beautiful but it lives in exile from where I still consider home.. The brass taps did it for me. I guess it is the associations that make the mind feel at home..

    this one was poetic, (to qoute a previous comment!)

  6. In Fb lingo i "like' it. anything more I say, will be an echo what others have said above. keep at it. you are good at what you do.

  7. your writing is lovely as always lalli and i can't wait to come sniff out the corners of your new (old) house. but why the negativity on reinvention? reinvention doth not redevelopment make. the wonderful thing about indian mosaic floors is that the patterns you discover and trace (with a bare toe) disappear and reconfigure so that a blink can change a sleeping giraffe into a plate of conical rasgullas.
    i love how you, for example, have always loosely tied and retied together different parts of who you are in the insanely long amount of time i've known you. you've reinvented yourself continuously and the pleasures of discovering the next (but same) lalli are manifold.

  8. Am sure all the spaces in your new flat and all the things they hold will share their secrets with you sooner than later... only if they could read how beautifully you write... Achyut.

  9. am enjoying the unravelling achyut. thank you. you are generous with your words, and so is the flat with its fertile aura.

    sidechange: will keep at it, promise!

    antara, you are right about reinvention. i know what you mean, but it's a thin line, and i wish people knew just where to stop...

  10. Wish this was written when I was working on my lyrical essay. This is perfect, as inspiration :)