The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: cozy

Being a Homebody/Inspired by La’s Orchestra

A book I love dearly is “La’s Orchestra Saves the World,” by Alexander McCall Smith. I had borrowed it from the library a while ago. I read it, loved it… and returned the book. There was something about the story that resonated so deeply with me… that I couldn’t stop circling back to it in my thoughts, again and again, in the months to come. So I bought the book and read it again. Loved it in a different way this time.

La's Orchestra Saves the World

La’s Orchestra Saves the World

The book tells the story of La (Lavender is her name), a young woman living in London with her charming husband. When her marriage collapses, La leaves London to go live in Suffolk, a small town in the English countryside. She arrives to a home that is in dire need of repair, love and attention. She gets to work, prettying up the home and making it inhabitable. She meets her neighbors and starts a new little life, quiet and hardworking. World War II is looming on the horizon. La feels lonely and isolated in her new environs. She has no one to share her thoughts with except the hens she tends to on a daily basis. La’s life changes when she meets Feliks, a Polish airman at the local army base. The story unfolds against the backdrop of war and its surreal possibilities, finally ending many years later on a happy, loving note filled with the voices and laughter of children, friends, and family.

At a point in the story, La wonders if she is a handmaiden. A person who is always watching, never acting… One who feels fervently but expresses little. As she busies herself in her little home — tending to hens, growing potatoes, hanging laundry, cooking, cleaning — she wonders about her insignificant contribution to the war efforts. She is not a nurse or an activist or a soldier (did females fight in the war? Probably not.). She perceives her life to be limited, circumscribed by the boundaries of her little village and the mundane existence of its inhabitants.

We live in a world that is ever telling us to do more, travel more, work more… be more. There is no end to being busy and achieving… stuff, whatever that means. I made myself believe that that was the right attitude. That was the way of growth, progress. I was always aware that this idea didn’t resonate with my inner self and I lived with that disagreement for many years, willing myself to be part of this march onward.

I think La’s story cemented an idea that had been germinating within me for a while.

I am a homebody. I like a little life. I am not exactly inclined to travel and discover the world. I derive nourishment from my home and the little rituals I engage in. I don’t regard house chores as dull or a drag. They provide a certain predictable rhythm to my life. I don’t have the drive to excel as a home-maker or a career woman. I am the happiest when I have books, tea, cooking on my agenda. All in all, a life that is equal parts cozy and nourishing, where I have time at hand, family a phone call away, old heartwarming films to watch, and Malayalam in my ears — yes, that suffices, thank you very much.

My Sweet Home

I love my home, I really do. But it wasn’t always this way.

When we moved in seven years ago, I was stumped. I had never lived in such a large house earlier and had no idea about decor, furnishings, interior design… all that stuff. So some parts of the house remained in darkness, metaphorically speaking. We simply didn’t know what to do with all those rooms. (Truth be told, ours is not a very large home, relative to the homes of our friends.) So we hung up cute Indian knick-knacks and tchotchkes all over, bought pictures framed from India, nailed little decorations up on the walls… but it felt like we (or I) were trying too hard. The house was not very happy, I’d imagine.

Anyway, long story short… we now have a lovely home. It is beautiful, radiant, shining and warm. We have faded couches, squashed cushions and pillows, walls that need a coat of paint (or two), yellowing blinds, a carpet that is in dire need of replacement. And the list goes on. But I love this place, so very much… with all its sunny corners, little piles of books on side tables, an overflowing bookshelf, brave house plants, brimming laundry baskets, cluttered bathroom, etc. I love our home because it is the space P and I inhabit with our bodies, minds, energies and intentions.

Home

It is a place of sunshine, love, warmth and serenity. When I think of my home, the words that come to mind are comfortable, friendly, equal parts shabby and chic and classy, cozy, a delightful mess, a graceful sense of disorder. And that about describes me as well. Meaning my home is a true representation of my personality, a fair and unbiased one, an authentic extension of who I am.

It is me. And it is P as well.

A special mention of the kitchen, one of the oft-used rooms in the house, the site of many cooking experiments and preparations, major baking projects, minor accidents, spectacular spills and like… 🙂 Such a blessing to eat and feed home-cooked food… there is not one restaurant on the planet that can even aspire to delivering anything remotely close to that level of quality, taste, flavor, nourishment and satisfaction.

My feet are cold…

As determined as I am to not transform my journal (doesn't that sound a lot fancier than 'blog?') into a 'this-is-what-I-had-for-breakfast' and 'here-is-how-my-weekend-turned-out' kind of a place, the subject line has the exact same feeling to it. But yes, my feet are cold. I am wearing socks, yes. I think I should wear knee-length socks.

Inane, inane, inane!

You know that feeling of near-feverishness that plagues the mind and fingers, so they race in tandem through webpages, over the keyboard, typing out comments, dashing off emails, sending messages on Google Talk… and then I wonder – why was I in such a tearing hurry? There was no fire burning, no emergency. Yet, this hurry to get done with "stuff" was so tangible that I hardly sipped water this morning. Or paused for a break. It almost seems like I held my breath for the last three hours. Yes, I possibly did that. No wonder I feel so suffocated and cold, gasping.

Friday holds the promise of a fun-filled weekend, days of freedom and frolicking with friends and their little ones. Baah, I feel so drained this morning that only a warm cup of tea can revive me. That, and 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' by Alexander McCall Smith. I am turning into a grandmother at the ripe old age of 33. Warm socks, cups of tea, gentle books penned by gentle authors…