The house was not too big. It was very old, the bricks were huge, it was Victorian style. I hated living in that house because the ceilings were very high, there were very few windows, small cupboards with glasses everywhere and a very rude neighbor who wouldn’t let me play tennis against the wall because her husband had an eternal tooth ache. For four long years I had to endure existing in that house. We shifted to a pretty house and all that now, but suddenly I found myself conversing with my brother how we enjoyed our days wandering the Trichy Road because we couldn’t stand that house. And that struck my memory cord.
Despite the house’s infrastructure, it was at the heart of the city. Kannan Departmental store was at my doorstep, Hot Vada was two steps away, Race Course was a two minute ride and my library was at Race Course, my school was almost opposite to my house, Aryaas hotel was another neighbor along our block, our best friends’ lived in same locality and Spencer’s was so close to us. The proximity was striking. The Spencer’s bakery was something to die for especially their foccacio and pinapple truffle and croissant. Unfortuantely, the shop wound up months before our shift. Our favorite CD-DVD/book shop also was close to us. As luck would have it, we spent a lot of time outside.
The house was dingy and dark at some places (like the room next to the dining room) but made a good place to read Stephen King’s novel. It was more than 150 years old and was built by British, lived by one and an Indian bought it one day. Ownerships changed and for four years we lived there. Everybody –except me- adopted to the tall ceilings and red surfaced floor and small windows. The house also had it’s own advantages – proximity to best eating joints, theatres, book shops and library. All was very convenient to my parents.
Still the house and living in the house bugged me. I got embarassed everytime I brought my friends home and I’d apologise to my parents, to my friends, to myself. Eventually, the visits became infrequent. My home was just about the school. So, I walked back from school at times.And I’d walk extra slowly, cautious that I waste time. It was that house. All the time. It was pomp and grand but not sublime. House is a home when you fit in. When the bricks feel like your bones and the walls became a source of warmth in the winter.
It still bewilders me how my family lived in. They lived so normally. I’m not saying the house is haunted. Gosh, no. I just had a different perspective. The first day was horrible because 1) the ceiling was preposterously high. I mean, it was weird.The sun rays hit my eyes. 2) I saw a cat walking in the backyard. It was big, white and hideous. Offensive too. I hate cats. 3) It rained.4) There were things all over the place. Here, there, on the dining table, next to the telly, inside the fridge, on my head and under my bed. 5) I had school next day. First day of class 9 and I didn’t know where my school bag was inside that swollen house. Hence, bad first day.
I started getting out of the house. I would rove between Race Course and the small eateries. Food makes everything better. And then my brother joined me. We’d eat ice creams, veggie rolls, popcorn, almost everything that is fried and costs less that Rs. 30. I have this incoherent notion that street food tastes the best. Okay, street vendors-houseflies-contagious-not clean-roadside- I’ve heard it all. But there are hygenic food stalls, lots which serve sumptous, healthy and luscious food. My favorite is deep fried sweet corn cutlet from Apple Bees, Race Course. Plus, I also belive that savories that cost above a certain amount of money is just not worth it. You might go to Creme Centre, Taj because prestige. They sell dosa for Rs.250! Be rational. Small shopkeepers are concerned about their customers like I get extra sauce on all chows.
This doesn’t mean that I was a tramp or a vagabond and always out of the house. That would be very ‘bad girl’. I was out occasionally. Like the walk from school or cycling to the library or fitness walking at Race Course (where I ate more than walking) or after Tennis classes again at Race Course. It was fun. Now, I miss that fun. And family.