The view from my building is not as poetic as I would like it to be. There are no parks with trees and birds, no waves crashing against uncared for beaches and not even a local train station with all its turbulence. My house is perched on top of a hill, from where I can see some wasteland, an old abandoned warehousing building, and a pool of murky water. One of my friend told me that my area will be polluted a lot because these trucks keep coming to and from the oil refinery nearby. But I don’t think so at all. Maybe I am just too high in my 6th floor flat to notice the pollution.
One of the things I am upset about is that I don’t get a view of the refinery. It is on the other side of the building, and the wonderful old Parsi lady next door has a breathtaking view of the complex. By day I guess it is a hulking mass of pipelines and rust and smoke, and if she leaves her curtains open I guess she must think it is an eyesore. But by night it must be a sea of tiny lights, some arranged in long tall lines, where they are arranged on refinery towers and buildings, and some in random arrangements, as if thrown around by hand. I would have loved to have that view. I love that glow you get through the window at night when you have switched off all the lights but the city outside is still awake. Sometimes you can hear tiny sounds of buses and trucks. But in my flat all I hear is the sound of water hissing in the pipes and sometimes the screech of new people moving in and pushing their furniture along the floor.
There are four flats on my floor, but I have only spoken to the Parsi lady next door. One of the other two I think is unoccupied and the third is occupied by a Catholic family, the Noronhas. I have never spoken to them of course, the Parsi lady told me all this. She is the sort who makes you feel at home from the first time you talk to her. She was relieved to get a neighbour opposite her flat finally. I guess she is lonely from staying alone on the floor and having noone to be… umm… old-ladyish with.
She makes tea for me everyday in the morning, and while it was very sweet of her in the beginning I really don’t know now if I should ask her to stop. She makes cups of tea that have just the right amount of milk and her tea powder leaves a wonderfully spicy aftertaste. It reminds me of a school trip I did when I was in 8th class I think. We went to this tea estate somewhere in the Nilgiris and, like all of us used to do in school, I too wanted to buy something from my pocket money for my folks back home. We were served cups of tea made with the leaves from the estate and it was so invigorating that I immediately bought a bag for home.
My grandma refused to open the bag of tea immediately though. I hemmed and hawed with impatience. But she was adamant on opening it only after we were done with the already opened bag of Kannan Devan at home. I nursed the thought of heaving that garish silver and green bag of “company-made” tea over the fence many times. The impostor had no business impeding my “original-direct-from-estate-brew”. A few days later when I drank enough tea everyday to finally exhaust the bag, my grandma finally made a fresh brew from my tea pouch. And it tasted exactly like the Kannan Devan she made the day before. Maybe I was conned, maybe people can brew tea only one way.
But the lady next door makes her tea exactly how I tasted it all those years ago in the Nilgiris.
Out home is now a very respectable bachelor pad. We have a TV and a washing machine and a drying stand which is mostly festooned with multi-coloured underwear. The stand, with its proud embellishments, is currently stationed at one end of the living room. We don’t expect too many visitors right now. At least not ones who would mind our underwear.
Its been an exhausting couple of weeks settling down and furnishing the place up. It is too easy to go out buying small knicks and knacks when they cost so little. Four bucks for a vacuum hook, 20 bucks for a bunch of hangers. End of the week it all adds up to a bloody pile of cash. And its just the first week of this month. Salary seems so far away. But now I know where all the trains go, which platforms handle which lines and I even have a season ticket and pass. In a few weeks I should even know which station comes on which side of the train. Then I will be a complete commuter I guess. I guess that should be mighty satisfying. But then I come back home, draw apart the curtains and sit down to finish An Equal Music. And I look out and see nothing poetic. Nothing at all.