Jan 28, 2016

Houses, Homes and Life phases - 1

I tend to do this, associate the phases of life with where I stayed then. That also helps me remember where I met a specific person in my life, and how the phase I was in has impacted my friendship with that person. It also helps me remember how I was doing career-wise back then.

As a 19 year old when I came to Hyderabad the first time and saw the city, I knew this was going to be home. It was love at first sight - the broad beautiful roads, the still-upcoming flyovers, the language spoken in the city, and not to forget, the beautiful view of Charminar I had at 5 AM in the morning among floodlights. I knew I was going to move here and this was where home would be. I didn't bother to think about marriage, career, education or anything at all. Hyderabad was home, that's all.


Long story short, Hyderabad did indeed become home. It was home to me and my best friend when we shared the apartment with few other girls (who went on to being friends I still have, but rarely talk to, people I still cherish, though). I remember distinctly the day my best friend and I decided to move out of our PG, and get an apartment of our own, and how we thought we both would be complete adults once we do the whole nine yards - buy wooden cots, set up the kitchen and pay our own rent. All of this we did and laughed at how our mothers always made a big deal of setting up a house when it was this easy. We did it, and we weren't even 22 then. We were our own bosses, with a bike between us, and enough money to take care of weekly Dominos pizza and fuel for Abids shopping sprees. Together we had the best of times, till my best friend got married, and I was by myself roaming the streets of Ameerpet, exploring the bookshops in Punjagutta and walking long distances just to kill time. I didn't know this was what lonely people did, back then, I was just having a lot of fun walking by myself, shopping for groceries (MTR ready-made stuff, mind you) and heating it at home, reading up till 1 AM, waking up at 8AM to catch the 830AM cab to office, and walking all the way back from Ameerpet to Punjagutta only to kill time in the evenings... it was a lot of me-time, and I loved it all, the melancholy of it all and the self-discovery I could do then. The apartment we shared in Punjagutta was a cozy one, and I loved it so much that I wanted it to be my first home after marriage too.

Sadly, it wasn't to be. The husband hated that apartment, called it a dinghy, and refused to even consider it for our home. We spent a very short while in his parents' house in Safilguda. We were figuring out the whole marriage stuff, I was learning cooking dinner, and dealing with my crappy career back then, and we hated the travel from Madhapur - Begumpet and Safilguda and there wasn't enough closet space there. Plus, the two couples we loved hanging out with lived in Begumpet, it was imperative that we had to move there as well. A couple of desperate house-searching attempts around Somajiguda, a very posh location back then, made us realize that we weren't anywhere closer to affording those rents of 25K for a beautiful 3BR with the lake facing balconies. Sad, we were, very very sad. Nothing was going in our direction, you see. The houses we wanted to live in were beyond us, and we didn't know what to do over weekends, coz Safilguda was way too far from anything we thought was cool.

We finally decided to move out when R & K, friends of ours discovered this great apartment for us in Aladdin Mansion. We met the landlady, quickly floored her into making her think we were this very awesomely cute couple in love (I realized years later we still have this charm, to make people believe that we are a very cute couple. We turn it on only when we have to, so don't be scared around us!) who would be very happy in her love nest. It was that, the apartment was indeed a love nest. We loved living there, and a couple of years later, hadn't it been for the sad fact that we moved out of there by force, I feel we would've still lived there, in that silly two bedroom apartment, doing the long commute between Begumpet - Madhapur - Gachibowli, in hindsight.
To me, those were some very very beautiful years. I learnt almost all my cooking in that tiny kitchen, we spent a lot of time with R & K, our dear friends, and we partied a lot. Like, a LOT. Really. Weekends started from Thursday evenings with the Ladies Nights in Bottles & Chimneys for the four of us, where we'd party till they let us. Friday evenings would be at 10D with another set of friends, and would go on till the wee hours of Saturday mornings. We'd wake up at 2 PM on Saturday, call up R & K, decide what to eat that evening, and get out partying again for that evening, only to realize on Sunday afternoons that we did nothing productive the entire time. Sunday evenings were Pizza Den nights, and we'd come home, resolving to do something better next weekend. Career was still crappy, the husband had joined his current workplace, and I followed him a couple of months later, but it didn't improve the career situation at all.
A couple of weekends doing real-estate window shopping, for the perfect independent house to live towards Sainikpuri, and a few not so smart real-estate investments later, we figured out house buying wasn't for us. We just weren't smart enough to know when to buy and where, we gave up in it altogether, and concentrated on what we did best - partying on the weekends.

One fine morning, we realized we had to vacate this apartment, thanks to the landlady who wasn't charmed by us anymore. We had less than a week to decide on a place to live, and literally every other place we looked at, around Begumpet, felt like a dump. I couldn't bear to live away from K, whom I adored and idolized, and was one of my closest friends by then, but the inevitable had to be done. Kondapur was a fancy location, with lots of new buildings coming up, and another friend helped us find this amazing apartment in NorthEast County, Shilpa Park. What I quickly discovered to be a routine with us, we charmed the landlord and landlady (who still stay in touch, I've loved them both a lot!), and before we realized it was happening, we were here, in this very beautifully done up, well ventilated, square-ish apartment.
Only after we moved here, with nothing but our clothes, pots and pans and books did we realize that we hadn't really had any real furniture at all, and we could be called part-nomads, actually. Well, it was something we worked on and for, back then, have as less stuff as possible, enough to fit in the backseat of our non-sedan-non-SUV-small-hatchback car back then, and we almost did it. We were set up in less than a couple of hours, and I was ready to call it home. Many a beautiful evening was spent in the balcony of this apartment, taking in the fresh breeze we got in the mornings, and having balcony to balcony conversation with this friend who stayed two stories below ours. Here was also where we entertained the most. For a change, I wasn't hanging around at other people's houses, people were over at ours. And I cooked, like a lot. Elaborate pastas, pav bhajis, dosas and sambars made our meals here, had with friends, almost 5 days a week. This was also where I hired a cook, coz I realized I was spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and also coz I saw how convenient it was to have one. My friend S recommended this guy who was brilliant, and I hired him instantly. I also dog-sat an adorable puppy, Boomerang, who helped me through my own unresolved pain of having lost a dog. It was also when I realized that I'd never have a pet of my own, the pain of losing one was too much to live with.

[Time spent taking care of Boomer is one of my happiest memories of living in this home...]

We had constant company over weekends, with friends, who were new to our life, and we enjoyed the whole process of discovering this part of the city. Yes, I absolutely hated Kondapur, I was from the real Hyderabad, you see. I got my vegetables from my weekly trip to in-laws house in Secunderabad, and looked down on anything that was around this place. But I loved this home and I loved showing off how much of the original Hyderabad I still loved.
Ideally, even per the more modern marriages, which were becoming a part of our generation, we should've thought of kids or had them by now. We were only too happy to laugh them off with silly jokes and move on to the next happening spot in town.
Slowly we realized we needed more furniture. The futon alone wasn't enough in that big an apartment, and after much deliberation, we bought a nice little dining table to overlook the balcony. I wasn't ready to own a dining table at all, that felt like commitment to me, like I was settling down at a place, and I wasn't ready for it yet. But yes, we went ahead and bought it, coz the husband won the argument and was successful at laughing at my commitment-phobia. This dining table was where we spent a lot of our time - the husband and I, and also friends. We worked on this, we ate here, we drank on the table, and anyone who visited our house wouldn't want to sit anywhere but on the table. It had become such an integral part of the home that I didn't want to separate it from its spot. So when we finally moved away from this apartment, I left it there, in that apartment, and the landlord liked it that way too.
My career was looking up, I thought, and the short commute to work meant I could spend more time at work and at home, and I was at my productive best. But back then, productivity was something I associated with work alone, I had no hobbies because I was too busy entertaining and having fun with friends. The husband picked up photography as a hobby inspired by all the gadget-wielders he saw during his not-so-brief tryst in the Far-East. But I was there... living day after day, weekend after weekend, most of them by myself, none of which were much different from each other, enjoying it all, not thinking about learning and evolving because I was happy just there... The home felt safe and happy, and I wouldn't have left it for the world.


[To be continued...]   

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