Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Character of Cupboards

The time came when we found bottles of olive oil and aged wine nestling amongst our clothes.  "Must buy some cupboards," I muttered.  For once my good husband agreed.  "Let's get the steel ones since insects don't seem to like them," he said.  My long and failing battle with cockroaches led me to approve of this plan.  Anyway it would fit in with the rest of our concrete and steel campus house.

Until I saw the Burma teak cupboard with the green porcelain handle.  A cupboard with a green handle!  In addition to which, it also had some cheerful green and yellow tiles depicting bunches of fruit.  It was love at first sight and I felt the cupboard approved of me as well.  I took my husband to see it; he liked it too and wonder of wonders - he fell for another, completely different cupboard - a Calcutta-Frenchy thing with luscious looking Burma teak flowers flowing all down the front.

And so - instead of two utilitarian steel cupboards, we have these endearing old pieces oozing character.  The small Frenchy thing is a smiley cupboard - it looks at you coquettishly and displays dainty crockery through its glass doors.  Yes!  All my old and treasured pieces are now in there and the olive oil has moved into the now empty, concrete cupboard.

The other teak cupboard I filled with my clothes.  It is capacious enough to hold them all and I learnt that it belonged to an eminent diplomat who is well known for her elegant sarees and has moved out of Bangalore to more important destinations, leaving this cupboard behind.  I wonder if she misses it; I have only had it for a couple of days and I am already firmly attached to it.

As I filled it up, I conversed with it, asking its opinions as to my current clothes.  Straight lines are in apparently.  Out went my flouncy skirts, overlong tops and sarees with colour run over them.  There was also a particular and specified place for everything, including hats and handkerchiefs.  What luxury!

I pass by these cupboards many times a day and stop to bestow a friendly glance upon them.  The experience of using half a century old Burma teak cupboards is a novel and heady one, something difficult to describe.  Steel and concrete seems a world apart.  I wonder who all used the cupboards and for what purpose (they are both well cared for) and why they had to let them go.

The furniture shop owner says he spends a lot of time finding good homes for furniture that people can no longer keep - due to rising costs and shrinking spaces.  Well, all I can say is the cupboards look pleased to be in their new family now.  I am fairly sure things will stay that way.

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