For someone who likes to have pretty little green, yellow, blue things and wide open spaces around me at all times, the last two years have been hard. In more ways than one. As if the chaos around me – caused by life altering changes in the way I live, love, and work – was not enough, there was a sudden dip in the wide open spaces and pretty things in my life. And that has *never* happened before, not when I could control it. The aesthetics of things and spaces around me had never decreased before, and that was not easy to live with.
Two years ago, I lived in homes that overlooked vast spreads of green, roads that looked structured and smooth even when traffucked, and homes as well as offices that were built aesthetically and thoughtfully. And suddenly, I woke up with a jolt. In a Bangalore that I have come to realize is going to the dogs. While I missed its dosas and tree-lined streets even as I had access to the vast greens of my last home, one of the silliest yet necessary decisions we made when we returned was to live almost bang in the centre of the CBD. In a tree-line street alright, but an old apartment designed thoughtlessly, perhaps only to rent away to gullible fools who loved that the peepul tree from the road came all the way into the balconies. What we didn’t account for was the mind boggling, ear-shattering levels of noise in that area – the honking of horns, the trrrrrr of autos, the boooooom of motorbikes, the shouting of vegetable sellers, the arguments of married couples and such. And for a while, it was all extremely endearing. But that sure didn’t last. What didn’t help was a city around me that was MELTING. AWAY. Trees being cut, unsightly, unplanned, unrealistically ugly buildings, shops, and flyovers around me, homes with character dying away due to the lack of any desire whatsoever to live hygienically and/or aesthetically despite making pot loads of money – which you don’t need by the way to live hygienically and/or aesthetically. And for someone who internalises her surroundings like I do, living in the middle of this man-made ugliness and chaos went straight to my head. It didn’t help that travels were few and far between due to far too many personal, professional, and financial commitments between R and me. And all of this left a gaping hole in my heart, a hole that was somewhat filled by Instagram-worthy moments that served as a reminder to be grateful for the little beauty I did have around me – the tree cage on the ground floor of my building, the peepul tree in my balcony, my yellow and indigo tea cups, a drive out of town, a rainfall, a thunderstorm, a sunny December, a pot of blooming bougainvillea and the many, MANY visits to the place we were going to call home soon.
And now, we are in that house. We wake up to endless trees just outside the building complex, Bangalore’s sometimes yellow, sometimes pink, but mostly green trees. And suddenly, I can breathe. Our home, it’s white. And uncluttered. And thoughtful. And aesthetic. So aesthetic (in our eyes) that we have considered opening an interiors consultancy in Bandra. We will call it “Cooler Than GKD”. The tagline – You don’t need chandeliers, not really. We will do the consultancy for free, even, if we can get more people to see that “empty” homes sometimes make for full hearts. That lack of clutter does not mean you don’t have what you need, want, or love. It is about having only that – and knowing in your heart at all times what those things are. That every wall does not need a shelf if you don’t amass things you could do without. That smaller wardrobes mean less space for fewer things. And that translates to savings also youguyzzzz, not just open spaces, open hearts, and uncluttered minds!
It’s been a difficult process to get to this point of actually, at long last, having the home we wanted. Mostly because when you tell your interiors folks that you are never going to have enough clothes to need a 9 feet wardrobe or that you don’t want a whole wall of shelves to say your prayers everyday or you tell well wishers that you can infact keep the alcohol inside the fridge and you don’t actually need that “gangsta bar” inside your home or kitchen shelves so large that half of them will remain empty because you have no life plans that would ever translate to needing more storage space, you will get a look. Yes, that look. It gets hard to ignore it when it comes your way all too often. I still haven’t mastered it, but I will get there one day.
But the good news is that despite being very people-pleasing sometimes, I still managed to tune out every single piece of “sane, functional, adult” advice and did what we pleased. And the return of all that open space and aesthetics as we have grown to love and want has unlocked something in my heart again. It has filled the gaping hole, and I can actually, physically feel it. And for my middle class heart, it’s also amazing that it did not cost that much. Empty spaces and full hearts usually don’t :D
But that’s not all, you guys! This is not just about home. It’s also about work. For the last couple of weeks, I have managed to face that vast open green space every time I work. And it’s been all kinds of awesome. I did eventually get tired of it and came into a new workspace today. And while there is still a lot of the manicured goodness that Bangalore knows so well how to fake, it’s nice to be in a cafe bang in the middle of trees this campus didn’t actually cut off in the process of accommodating offices and people. The cafe is quiet, there is just enough human contact I need to get by, and I am surrounded by a number of places I can get myself some decent food or just a whole lot of junk.
Change is an amazing, amazing thing. And in the middle of all of this, if there is one thing I am truly grateful for, it is the opportunity to create this change with our own four hands. It feels like a life that we are building intentionally and purposefully, and the end game unknowingly this whole time was this calm, quiet kind of happiness I have been feeling in the core of not just my heart but also my stomach. I am grateful, I just need to remember to be it more often.