Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thoughts on Cupboards

Cupboards have been on my mind for several months now.  Ever since we started living out of boxes.  We have boxes overflowing with clothes of all shapes and sizes - things which used to fit me, things which are now too big for me and likewise, for the baby. Boxes of gifts for the baby, some which he is too young to use and some which he has outgrown.  Books piled in unsteady towers, swaying as we brush past them, waiting to go into - yet more boxes everywhere.  They have to be put away, somewhere, sometime…

"We need new cupboards," I think to myself.  But - the obvious question is - where do we put them?  I wish there were special gravity defying designs which could be installed neatly on the ceilings, painted perhaps a sky blue with fluffy, wooly clouds, or a midnight blue with Van Goghian stars and one could gently drift up and store whatever one wished and float back down again…

But as that is unlikely to happen, I come down to earth with a bump.  A gently bump, because I land on piles of clothes instead of a hard floor.

So it was with a sense of anticipation that I visited Raintree's annual furniture exhibition.  This is organised by a very enterprising lady who spruces up and also designs beautiful pieces based on old designs, in teak and marble (and if one is lucky, rosewood as well).  I knew that we had no space for furniture but figured that if there was something big enough or nice enough or practical enough, we could try and replace some piece of existing furniture with a cupboard.

We reached just five minutes before the sale finally ended as we had not been able to spare any time on the previous days.  But experience has taught us that no one else seems to buy the things we like so we were not particularly concerned.  The lady knows us and is a very kind person and relaxed, in the old Bangalore style.  She came up to take the baby from us and engage him in a long, pleasant conversation, which he seemed happy with.  We drifted from room to room, looking at the range of furniture.  Nice chairs, for formal and informal seating, tables of various kinds, beautiful brass objects and other things.  No cupboards!

Of course this did not deter us from shopping; we usually succumb to the charms of old furniture.  And so we bought a round table of an in between size - bigger than a side table and much smaller than a dining table, higher than a coffee table and lower than a writing desk.  What would we do with it?  We had no clue but we liked it and knew we wouldn't get something like this elsewhere.  It was a combination of two old pieces - a beautifully carved base in teak and a teak top with a wonderful natural grain running across - the kind you only see in large, wise trees that no longer exist.

The second piece was a kind of movable bar(!!!).  A most unsuitable object to introduce with a tiny baby in the house.  But we loved it.  It is also a solid, old wooden structure, with beautiful carved doors, a pair of shelves and a set of drawers and is topped with a creamy green kind of marble.  (The marble is new and is polished such that it is stain resistant and it perfectly complements the rest of the structure).  The lady provided us with a beautifully made wooden wine rack, which she said she could not possibly charge us for.

As we were leaving, we also spotted a lovely brass arch, the kind that is traditionally placed behind idols and that people use nowadays as a mirror frame.  It had two of Vishnu's incarnations sculpted on it - the lion at the top and two boars below.  It was a beautiful piece and we succumbed once more.  For good measure, we also bought a pair of brass lamps with peacocks (Diwali is almost round the corner).

And so, we trudged home, deliriously happy.  I gave away a small floor desk, to try and make some space, but that only freed up about four square feet…

The carpenters came and installed the pieces.  As it turned out, the wooden table went in our living room, in between two cane reading chairs. It happened to be the perfect dimension for that space.  We often keep glasses of water, telephones, bookstand other knick knacks there.  In the midst of all this, there is still place for our Mexican jaguar to repose regally and it looks very much at home on the dark teak.

The bar was put in place of our all purpose table and drawer set, which was moved to another room.  The beautiful marble top supports our Ganesha, our telephone and an array of writing material.  The drawers house our chargers. One of the shelves holds our wine bottles along with our laptops and stationery.  The other shelf is empty.  What should we put there?  "Nappies?", my husband suggested.  I shook my head.  I was thinking more along the lines of olives, dark chocolate, roasted almonds…   The bar looks elegant and has added so much character to our room, fitting perfectly against one wall, as if that space was made just for it.

We mounted the brass arch high up on a wall in our dining room.  It needs no idols or mirrors; it stands out on its own.  The mythical figures are filled with a life of their own when the light falls on them.

Our house is now beautiful and perfect, well - almost.  The only thing we need are - some cupboards.

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