When housemates turn housebreakers


*picture from drawingcoach.com

Whenever R and I discuss marriage, we discuss a home loan. A bank that would lend us the capital for a snug shelter of our own. We would then do it up in colours we fancy and there would be wind chimes by the windows. And when we would walk to the building elevator, we would shut the door behind us. The door with a nice namecard that would bear our surname. Now, what is interesting here (apart from the dreaming I do) is how the home dreams always feature a building. What happened to the brick and mortar cottages with the very personal front garden?

Not that cottages don’t catch my fancy. Oh, they do. Where the shoe pinches is different.

Buying a piece of land, getting people to get construction material, actually watching the house being constructed – would we be able to manage it? Even afford it? Is it even viable? Isn’t it infinitely easier to book an apartment and move in? But of course, if the former option were feasible, I wouldn’t think twice before giving it a nod. Seeing your house of dreams take shape in front of your eyes – can anything compare? However, some people seem to think otherwise. For them, it is much more interesting to watch their (former) house of dreams being torn to shreds.

I have been living in my colony in South Delhi for a good number of years – I was born here. (ah, did you think I would give away a number?) This place had all sorts of houses: big ones, little ones, single- storey-ed, double-floored. When you took a walk around, there would be people waving at you. “How have you been?” they would ask. “You’re so big!” There would be small kids playing in the balconies and bigger ones playing ball in the colony park.

When I now take a walk around, I do not see a familiar face. Not one. Okay, perhaps one. The elderly Uncle who worked with my Granddad still goes for his evening walk. He now uses a walking stick. His earlier companion – the ‘Sachin’ grandson – has gone off to greener pastures. What is sad is that even the houses aren’t the same. There are big ones the builders have made. The erstwhile owners have amassed wealth to splurge on limousines and trips to Canada. They now live in apartments elsewhere.

“Was there an emergency?” I asked Granddad once. “Why do you ask?” “The sudden need for money, you know…” “Oh, a world trip is an emergency you see.” he laughed. So, you are an England-returned. You have been on the Millennium wheel, hiked the English countryside. What about the childhood you spent in your now-destroyed house? Will you ever be able to reconstruct the alleyways you first learnt to walk in? Or rebuild the walls you drew your first crayon-drawing on?

I can understand a contingency. When you have no option but to sell. Or when you have to relocate and have no one who can use the house. Like I know people who had to sell for medical reasons. Some others in my extended family sold off when their business went bust. But how do you explain a wilful rampage? If you needed a fancier place, hire an interior decorator. Hell, if you are rich enough to harbour ‘rich’ hobbies, buy another house.

Maybe I am being naive. But I cannot stand the thought of your house being broken down in front of your eyes. The ones your Dada and Dadi built so lovingly.

R and I will one day have a house of our own, albeit in a building. But it will be ours. For pursuits frivolous and interests that transform by daylight , we won’t give up what we have dreamt so much about. Just the thought of someone going at our house with a bulldozer gives me the jitters. Bless our soul.


40 thoughts on “When housemates turn housebreakers

  1. Pingback: An Ice-Cold Delhi | Of Paneer, Pulao and Pune

  2. May be this is the first time I am commenting on your blog on a serious note.

    I would say,no,I would advice you to stick to your dreams..There is always an easier way to achieve your dreams but the problem is we will be dissatisfied.My parents wanted a plot next to a river bank and they literally hunt for one for more than three years.But the belief in their dreams and their efforts did pay us well with a house on the river bank,amidst of greenery and coconut trees,from where we can sip our morning tea watching the sunrise and a very calm and quiet place.People kinda made fun of them about their adamant dreams.So never compromise..we are not rich like the ambanis that we can build ten houses in our life time..so good luck baby..your dreams will come true..

    • Bhavia, thank you for sharing that here. I can visualize the place you talked about and the fondness reflects in your writing. I surely will hold on to my dreams and try my best to make them come true. Lets wish other a mutual break-a-leg. πŸ™‚

  3. hugs! May your dreams come true…
    selling a house is something I don’t think I can do! But, you never know in which direction life will take us and suddenly priorities change.. sigh!!

    • I know. It sometimes scares me, this volatility of life. But then, we have to move along the tide and see what happens. Hugs to you too, Pixie. I hope our dreams are sheltered from the winds and get to blossom. πŸ™‚

  4. Its more of a practical thinking… you can dream of buying a land and watching over your house of dream being constructed, but who has time. If requires constant monitoring, understanding and efforts…moving into an apartment is way easier today… Oh yes, it is disheartening to see people sell their houses for various reasons…

    • Welcome to Saddi Delhi, Karan. πŸ™‚
      I agree with the way you put that. It is a trade-off between emotion and practicality. What seems un-doable to me may seem elementary to someone else. It is all about priorities. Only, I feel that as long as it is feasible, a home deserves all the care we can give it. It is a small price to pay for the shelter it has always lent us. To say nothing of the memories.

  5. I know what you mean and we have been thinking on such lines too…what with people in our locality are doing the same…no emergency, no dire need to have truck loads of money but still they are giving up on their separate bungalows to relocate to far away places in some tiny apartments….makes me sad for them…

    but what funny thing…I’m feeling sad that they have sold their houses πŸ˜› lol

    • forgot to add: that’s where the difference between emotional and practical comes in…there are people who can comprise on their emotional side just to be more practical,or so to appear πŸ˜‰

    • “I’m feeling sad that they have sold their houses” I couldn’t have agree more! πŸ˜› It strikes me as such a loss and such a, somehow, distorted way of thinking. I know it is wrong to be judgmental and everyone has a reason no matter how foolish it may seem to me but… I don’t know. Home is a gem I cannot give up.

  6. Ah! Good post, Debo! I have always dreamt of having an individual house. However, the thought of someone breaking down is scary and disturbing.

    But yeah, whatever! Lets make our dreams come true! πŸ™‚

  7. It’s been a while since I last came here. If it were just brick and mortar, we wouldn’t call a house a home. When I visit my ancestral home in the village where I was born and spent some initial 5-6 years, those days and their memories flash before my eyes. It would always be brimming with activities. I just can’t imagine it razed to the ground.

    Good luck with your dream home, Debo. I am sure you will give shape to your dream one day and when it’s complete, do invite us. πŸ™‚

    • Good to hear from you, Ajay. I was beginning to think you had deserted Saddi Delhi. 😦
      I can understand what you are talking about. No matter how much (or how little) time I spend away from home, I always smile when I come back to it. This is the place I grew up, learnt to walk and talk, write. Like you said, it is always brimming with activity. Food, dusting, decorating… especially when I am there. πŸ™‚

      Thanks a lot, Ajay. I certainly hope so. Be sure of an invite when it happens. πŸ™‚

  8. A house is always my preference. From the space it gives to the memories we make. A flat always seems …. Well I grew up in a house, n live in a flat now. Somehow it doesn’t feel the same.

    • I totally get what you mean, Rituparna. Even I grew up in my Nanaji’s house and that is the picture I always build when someone says home. But I guess life goes on… As long as there is laughter and merriment, it doesn’t matter much whether you’re talking an independent house or a flat.

  9. Some see practicality over emotions. Who cares for the old house where I grew up, when I am being paid a fat cheque for the land where the house stands. You can’t blame them much. Can you???

    And good luck for your dream house! May your dreams come true πŸ™‚

    • Totally. To each his own, Rebel. Some may wave off such thinking as maudlin sentimentality and go about their way…

      Thanks a lot, though. Touch wood. πŸ™‚

  10. Awww… may your dreams come true!!! I have lived all my life in apartments, therefore am not familiar with the virtues of an independent house. No regrets though πŸ™‚

  11. I love independent houses but there is another problem; how to maintain it? With domestic help a luxury nowadays, I have opted for an apartment; one which I can clean myself 😦

  12. I understand what you say. Ancestral houses come up with a set of attachment that is hard to explain. Even if you can afford to buy another home/flat, the original one stays. That can’t be at the cost of this one….

  13. interesting post Debo,
    I read a book by indonesian backpacker, and what you have said here confirmed her words. She said that when she was in India, most people live in apartement building. When she took celebrity tour, out of curiosity, she saw that those celebrity’s houses aren’t that big, what made the different is those houses are on the ground.

    Good luck with you and R πŸ™‚
    Hope you will have your marriage soon and build a house

    • A very correct observation on her part, Novroz. What is sad, however, is that many people sell off their larger, if more primitive, houses to buy small apartments in some fancy building. Why it strikes me as strange is that I would love to live in an independent house after marriage but chances of that happening are dim. Call it job reasons, security, affordability, blah. Dreamy pictures of cottages with wooden flooring are just that – dreamy. But there are people who give up on them. Says something about priorities it does.

      Thanks a lot sweetheart. πŸ™‚ Really. πŸ™‚ Wish you the best as well.

  14. yes, Debo, i too agree that breaking a house do breaks ones’ heart. for me every house has a life. being an Architect, i would put in all my thoughts, love and affection into the house i design, i make sure that it is being build properly by going to site and also make sure that the family lives happy in the house i design. but, when i think that after many years, the house might be dismantled is heart-breaking. there can me many reasons as you say, adding to your list, lack of land, building is wearing out, etc etc.

    i have this craze of old houses. the designs are so climate responsive and good. if i have buy one for myself i would buy a old independent house and just renovate it.

    • Thank you for sharing your point of view, A. An architect’s point of view! πŸ™‚ I can relate with what you said even though I am miles removed from your profession. Designing a house with so much care and then having it broken down for a better one (?) – sounds tragic even to me.

      Old houses are drool-worthy. I am a big fan of English construction ever since I saw the Viceroy Lodge in Shimla. The greens, the mist, the flowers, the wood. Ah!

  15. Interesting that I always think in terms of rooms. a room for me and my partner . A room for the kids , kitchen … I never thought of how the house would look from outside .. or if it would be a house / flat or something …

    hmmmm …..

    and I relate to your love for the areas and home we grew up …
    The charm can never be felt any where else …

    • Intriguing, Nimue. I guess you think in better specifics than I do. πŸ˜‰ Do tell me when the exteriors of your home take shape. πŸ™‚
      Yup. The places we grew up in – even the streets, the shops and the parks – have an unfading charm. Such a pang growing up sometimes feels like.

  16. Beautiful post, Debo! My dream house is still a small independent house with a small lawn and a patio where I can grow my own veggies and flowers, tucked in some corner of the city, but away from the hustle and bustle! But over the years with the safety issues getting worse, I’m being forced to think that an apartment will be a safer bet! “Just the thought of someone going at our house with a bulldozer gives me the jitters.” Totally get what you mean!

    • A patio is bliss indeed, Deeps. The way you said that makes me start dreaming again. πŸ™‚ But yes, there are so many things to consider today. When decision comes to decision, we end up choosing the safer, if less-dreamier bet.
      Seriously D, it is so scary when you think of loss. The loss of loved ones, the loss of ‘home’ and the ‘homely’…

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