I will tell you about a conversation had with the bestie. A few years back, Shilpa Shetty was gifted a flat on the 19th floor of Burj Khalifa, Dubai by her husband on one of her birthdays. While reading the story, my best friend and I were generally discussing the ‘poor’ choices (yes, pun intended) we made while choosing husbands and were sulking away to glory. But it did not last for too long. The ‘Frankenstein’ cap and the ‘grapes-are-sour’ jacket were lying right next to us. We took no time to put those on and the conversation started right after that. So did the detailed discussion on the disadvantages of the gift she got.
“I pity her, you know. What if an ice cream vendor or a bhhelpuri-wala passes by? She would call them from her balcony and they would not be able to hear. Futile!”
“Yeah, you are right. And what if while putting the wet clothes on the washing line in the balcony, a peg falls down? It will be impossible for her to trace it later.”
“What about the inconvenience the newspaper-wala would face? He would throw the rolled up paper which will never land on her balcony.”
With your best friend, it is okay to indulge in the silliest of conversations and see your mood soaring up and walk in the clouds. No?
The reason I told you the story is, did you notice how our discussions remained centered around balconies only? Yes, we belong to that group of people who share an unusual bonding with balconies, thanks to the simple childhood we had. With sources of entertainment very limited, balconies acted as the eyes and nose that breathed in the outside world. In this context, I cannot resist telling you the story of a 152 year old man who, in his childhood, used to teach the railings in the verandah of his huge mansion in Jorashako. An excerpt from the reminiscences of his childhood ~
“I had started a class of my own in a corner of our verandah. The wooden bars of the railing were my pupils, and I would act the schoolmaster, cane in hand, seated on a chair in front of them. I had decided which were the good boys and which the bad—nay, further, I could distinguish clearly the quiet from the naughty, the clever from the stupid.
… … … My wooden pupils have not since been replaced by cast-iron railings, nor have any of the new generations taken up their education in the same way— they could never have made the same impression.”
After deriving unusual happiness at the similarity of our childhood with Rabindranath Tagore’s, let me tell you the possible reasons why balconies are the foremost things in a house which catch my attention and my heart.
Balconies are store houses of memories. The picture of Dad on an easy chair reading a book on a winter afternoon, the blankets hanging next to him, being soaked in the sun (the fragrance of naphthalene from them dancing in the air), the sound of the folded newspaper right in the morning, throwing of paper boats on waterlogged streets, the soft tendrils of the bitter gourd plant growing from a seed, carelessly dropped by a crow in one of the flower pots, Ma bidding good bye when you left for school, mastering the art of sign-language with the cute neighbour 😉 , the reasons behind the eternal balcony-love is endless.
This post therefore is a dedication to various beautiful balconies that took my heart away.
To begin with, there are balconies wrapped up in history. An uncle’s house in Benaras is a living example of one such. Time would halt here, sit in peace and write its story at leisure. To give my feelings literary aptness, I will borrow from Gaston Bachelard: “The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” The same lines are equally true for the varandahs that guard it along the outer and inner peripheries of the house.
Being a bundle of opposites, I am equally in love with quiet balconies as well as their chirpy counterparts. The cacophony of crows, sparrows and pigeons breaking my sleep into pieces, makes a happy Me. The pictures below belong to two of my friend’s balconies. One of them is based in the USA. A mother of innumerable four-pawed and two-winged children, she religiously keeps a bird feeder and a water pot in the balcony so that her babies can eat at their heart’s content in between the flights.
Balconies also become gardens for those who cannot afford a slice of their backyard for a ‘real’ garden. My friend Reshma has one of the most stunning terrace gardens in the world. But what is no less beautiful is the patch of green on her balcony. One look at the snapshots, mera diltoh garden-garden ho gaya… If I had to give anything the same status of the divine biriyani found in Lucknow, it would be Reshma’s sunny balcony.
On a recent holiday, there were several balconies that caught my attention. The quaint yellow corner with a traditional lantern for the lighting and the gulmohar plant for the shades melted my heart. So did the blob of pink brightening up the grey balcony which was feeling blue.
While literally speaking, balconies would mean hanging extensions from a house, I also love balconies on ground floors. Their down-to-the-earth personality teamed with the smell of the soil and the grass fill up my senses with happiness.
As I reach the grand finale of this post, I will share one of the best balcony experiences ever. The balcony by the sea…..where you are woken up by the sound of the waves and the sea is served as tea.
While I enjoy my morning cuppa, why don’t you share your balcony-stories with us? When we do another post on this favourite part of the house, your balcony could also say Hello to the world!