There’s an unexplained, indescribable joy in peeking into someone’s home, twisting your head one way and squinting if the need arises. It’s fascinating to see strangers in their four walls, wordlessly watching the television or moving from one room to another.
Don’t mark me as a ‘peeping tom’. I don’t stand and stare, for too long. But the strange comfort in looking at cubicles of people’s lives, zipping past hundreds of apartments and balconies, while in the metro or walking, gives me unbridled excitement. At the end of the day, tired and exhausted, my brain is often left muddled to be reading a book in transit. More often than not, the swelling crowd in the metro makes it impossible to even hold a handrail, forget lifting a book to read. So as days turned to months, I took to looking out of the window, especially while passing from Akshardham to Mayur Vihar Extension, and the view presented, a glorious number of parallel worlds, open to my interpretation.
Small flats, large houses, huge television sets, modest furnishings, utensils lined up on shelves, laundry being folded, pets, servants at work… these split second frames of living rooms are swept up in my brain, and there they lie stewing in a vortex of possibilities.
As a child I loved looking at homes. Not just looking, looking, but looking closely. I’d always notice the extra beautification of one’s balcony to the over grown shrubbery in another’s garden, choc-a-block homes lined in a neat row or marvellous bungalows. Even now, this has become quite a hobby.
In winter last year, I spent a good twenty minutes every morning walking to work from Maharani Bagh main bus stop (where my charter bus would drop me) to my office complex on Mathura Road, near New Friends Colony in Delhi. It would not just be a great way to hit my target of steps in a day, but I’d love to walk through the posh enclave of Maharani Bagh. I would pass a rather chic boutique hotel, a park filled with dogs and joggers, a couple of dishevelled looking homes and few more in need of repair. And yet as I’d move inwards, I would gape at towering bungalows with opulent architecture and massive gates, that wouldn’t let a spot of the interiors be betrayed. But come nightfall, and lights would filter through the gaps, rewarding one with sliver of vision of the beauty that lay beyond. Fancy garages, beautiful linen curtains, fancy swings and polished woodwork, hanging gardens and tinted windows, intricately carved pillars and tiled roofs, appreciating the beauty of homes is such a luxurious pastime.