Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I need a Larissos.

Anyone who has an old house (and loves every inch of it) will know, dust and mess do not a home make. Which is why the dear old things have to be cleaned out from roof to ground floor every once in a while. (In our case, once every 50 years). And who is it that performs this expurgation? The daughters of the house, that’s who. In this case, one daughter, the others being responsible and working (yeah, right).
Me.

It’s lucky that I like cleaning. Especially when it’s deciding which books to keep and which to donate when the piles start reaching the ceiling. (I can spend hours in our attic-thakurghor, covered in ages-old dust, rooting for that one book I know I’d seen here a year ago.) But also cleaning in general. I love wiping a dirty glass pane with Colin and seeing it sparkle-it’s like modern alchemy. I feel so powerful. And I have also been known to stun my friends by saying, “Hey, want to come over? We’ll clean the old bookcases together!”

But this house is beyond me. I’ll tell you why. Picture an old, old townhouse in Bhowanipur, with paint that peels off no matter how many times you paint over- like an old woman who can’t be bothered to pull up her sari’s pallu when it keeps falling off. Inside, there are four floors and one attic with every inch of space crammed with old and new furniture-juxtaposed together terribly, hundreds of occasional and end tables we occasionally fall over, moth eaten carpets, rugs, cushions, madurs, once-ornamental vases and curios that have long given up trying to look young and pretty, hundreds of clocks that never go, one grandmother clock that ding-dongs whenever it feels like it, and one grandmother, bless her heart, who never throws anything away.

And books. Did I mention books? It’s accepted that old houses have old books, collected over the years. Our books, on the other hand, seem to have been collected since Gutenberg packed a printing press into his vacation gear. Every floor has them teeteringly balanced, on chairs, on the aforementioned occasional and end tables, on the TV, the DVD player, the computers, the almirahs, the beds of course, and on the seat of our exercise bike.(Which no one can use anymore because where do the books go?; so we’re all getting fatter and fatter.) We have Readers’ Digest Condensed books, four fat ones each year, from the 1950s. We have all the mandatory moth-attracting Encyclopaedias, the Historian’s History of the World, the Everyman’s Library, and so many political and spiritual books that Attila The Hun would be reformed if he read them all, leave alone Munnabhai. (Not that you would know it to look at them, they’re all coated with dust and look like rows of black ledgers.) Add to this my personal mountain of books, accumulated over the years, a lifetime’s worth of begging, whining, and coaxing.
And all this, who has to make into a magazine centerfold before New Years’, when the cousin’s Big Fat Bengali Wedding (Ashirbad, really) will happen? I do. And by magazine I mean ‘Good Housekeeping’, not ‘Ancient Ruins of India’.
And I swear, if I do it, on my matrimonial ad goes “Can do anything, including clean the Aegean Stables.”
Sucks to you, Hercules.

35 comments:

heh? ok said...

you should import the girls and the women from my extended family. the aegean stables will be sparkling clean in less than a day. and i'm actually being conservative in my estimate :)

another brick in the wall said...

i need someone to clean my room.. plz.. i HATE to.. really.. i'm ready to pay the "cleaner"... the maid stays away from my room its that dirty.. plz.. lemme know ur salary expectations! :P

raghu said...

oh a good old hostels crazy too.. its got all these spider webs n all.. n moth homes.. the hard part is cos the celing is hiiigh.. as in even i need a loong stick.. but then again i love cleaning but i hate the look of a cleaned room u noe.. it reminds me of a hotel.. not my home.. in ur case prolly a museum :S

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

i love old houses even more, having moved into a flat that is too new to be loved. old houses breathe kindredness.

and you are going to be my roommate sometime. i just know. i have these maniacal bouts of cleaning about twice a month and then let everything just go back to being dirty because i can actually FIND my things that way than if i put them away in their proper places.

which means my room IS the aegean stables.

Fishy! said...

I love cleaning! Call me over anytime you want a cleaning partner.. I'm just weird that way. :P
And yes, I love old houses too, seeing as I live in one. :)

Rajarshi said...

could i borrow a couple of those condensed readers' digests from the '50s?

new age scheherazade said...

@heh: haha, same with me. except they're all just as lazy as I am.

@abw: if you have books, I'll do it for free, but for a long, long time.

@raghu: not a problem with me, as my house has probaby never been that clean in its life. And it would be shocked if you mentioned hotels in its hearing.

@priyanka: YES, it is kindred. every particle of dust is kindred. i love it, as you can probably guess. :)
and same with me-the bouts and then the laziness. i WILL be your roomie, and we'll live in a pigsty and get fat enough to resemble pigs, both being cooks.
ah, heaven.

@ fishy: thats the fun of blogging- someone's always as weird as you!

@rajarshi: i was hoping for someone to ask that. *looks reproachfully at priyanka*
ANYtime. I love those gems.

The Bad Penny said...

the point is...if all else fails and you suck at studying and at singing and at being a cat....you can always entertain people with your cleaning act.

adwaita said...

it's a fact i hide abt myself but i have this ocd of cleaning my book and clothes cupboards. and the days my mum's too sick too dust and i take over the mighty duster let the cobwebs tremble for i shall bring down every one of them ...and then have a very bad allergy through the next week.

but i love my big house. its in far south kolkata.very far frm anywhere.but its huge and airy and there's no way i'll shift to any where else cramped even if its a brilliant location.

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

that's IT. i have HAD it with you not posting and making me come back every once in a while to see if you have. you are lazy and thankless and if i weren't lazy too i'd find out where you live ( i already know the area, so THERE) and come over and give you the shaking of your life, and run away with a couple of those readers digest books that i didn't ask for because you already promised me them!

*pauses to catch breath, and whirls away*

i feel like a shapeshifter today, okay? so sue me.

new age scheherazade said...

@adwaita: haha...I know. old houses have so much character. I'd never move from mine either, even though sometimes it feels like it's falling down on my head.

@the red queen: *trembles and meekly starts composing new post*
no, really...i have exams! i will post for sure next week, and it'll be an unwaba review. how'll you like THAT, huh?

Doubletake, Doublethink. said...

we shall consider it.

adwaita said...

u like samit basu eh?
cumin to the launch???22nd?

raghu said...

samit basu? :P
13s unlucky keep one extra comment

new age scheherazade said...

@ adwaita: of course.

@ raghu: idiot, i'd have replied to her, na? :)
and this makes it fifteen, then. even less unlucky.

Anonymous said...

if you're in kolkata, how'd you learn to write so well?
where do you get your books? i didn't know amazon delivered to kolkata...
are you in college and/or applying to any schools in America?

curious.

it's just that i've heard that kolkata has this interesting history- with Tagore, and all those physicists, intellectuals- i'm just wondering why. thanks!

new age scheherazade said...

@anonymous: that is a VERY strange comment. but..thank you!
only, why do you think people have to get books from amazon? bookstores do exist..and most of our immense collection of books was collected a long, long time before even I was born, to say nothing of the Internet.
And i think kolkata is this intellectual place because when you're blessed with easy-to-grow food, lots of water and other survival essentials, people tend to turn towards the arts and sciences. and it's also been a very mixed city, what with the British and its metropoilitan nature...but in the end, i don't know. Why is Paris Paris?

And i'm applying to colleges both here and abroad-but i don't really want to leave this khichuri of a city. (go wikipedia or google khichuri)

speedpost said...

hehe. quite acerbic are we with anonymous commentor person??
btw the kidnapping plan is on.
i shall call u sumtime if ur phone is with u and we shall chalk out stuff. post already!~

Anonymous said...

i know what khichuri is, its yellow rice.

ami bangla understand kore. except i live in america.

maybe sounds weird. but not on my part. lets just say i go to a school that most people think is good. but after living with my peers, talking to them, or reading their writing- it just isn't as witty or flow as well as yours.
maybe its because we're not trying to impress each other(or we don't have to)?
but i was reading another blog (ADD) from a person i knew in high school. her writing was ridiculous as well. she applied to school i go to- and others like mine- but was rejected from all of them. the system is weird.

POINT: you use English, seem to be more American, and are more intelligent than I am.
yet, you are in Kolkata... and i'm at the heart of intelligentsia<= HA! yea, right.

anyways, good luck with school, applications, future. read to achieve! peace

new age scheherazade said...

@speedpost: It's easier to be acerbic when the person's anonymous. and yes, the plan is ON. poor guy. oh, and are we planning ranson? call anytime.

@ anonymous: I think where you live has less to do with your writing than who you are. maybe your friend's just..well, good at other things? Also, If you live in Qiaotou, it doesn't mean you have to make buttons, right? and i'm a teensy bit good at writing only because i don't read to achieve...

but as i said, thanks. i love complimentary comments. (and what part of america? canada, panama, gautemala, brazil, USA?) :)

Anonymous said...

a little canada, a little honduras, some northeast flava, a nice mix. i must go now. won't say its forever. but keep reading! and achieving separately!

crackfire said...

Haha sounds like a typical old world Bengali Household, not that I have been in any. But do post some picks of the Book Mountains.

adwaita said...

samit be sweetheart! :) cheers to him!

newagescheherazade said...

@crackfire: oh it is, it is. positively prehistoric, but I love it. and you can visit mine, but not if you're an axe murderer, please. we do have SOME prejudices left. :)

@ adwaita: that he be. were you there?? why didn't we meet??

adwaita said...

got stuck at work and cudnt go.so so wanted to...hav u finishd teh buk?dnt tell me wht hapns!!!

barb michelen said...

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crackfire said...

Axe where is my axe! damn things disappear right when you need them.

new age scheherazade said...

@adwaita: read it much before DDay. and it is all oooh, so read it quick.

@barb wire: you really thought i'd get caught, you evil bot?

@ crackfire: :D they also fall on your feet if you're not careful.

undifferentiated said...

me readin unwaba rite now rite now rite now!!!!!!

undifferentiated said...

am so so glad kirin got his happy ending. i so love him maaan!grin grin.

Subhayu said...

Anyone who has an old house (and loves every inch of it) will know, dust and mess do not a home make. Which is why the dear old things have to be cleaned out from roof to ground floor every once in a while. (In our case, once every 50 years). And who is it that performs this expurgation? The daughters of the house, that’s who. In this case, one daughter, the others being responsible and working (yeah, right).
Me.

haha..that is the most funniest thing that i have read in ages...my god thanks sriri son afor providing me a good laugh!!

new age scheherazade said...

haha.it's all true!

Shrey said...

Well written really. Alternative career prospect, much.

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Shrabasti Banerjee said...

i know what you mean. I live in a similar house in bhowanipur as well :-).
i love your blog. guess you're tired of being told this, but post more often!! you're in princeton now, aren't you? sujaan told me about you :-D
haha, it's weird that i'm commenting on a post more than a year old. i don't even know if you'll read this, but i just felt like saying something^_^