When less is more

All that I hear from everyone these days is, ‘Have you settled in?’

I tell them that no, I have not settled in yet, and add under my breath, ‘What’s the point?’

For the moment though, I have learnt by heart the Oriya song which is the caller-tune of my plumber-cum-handyman. I call him a zillion times a day for one thing or the other. And the Man Friday that he is, he fixes whatever problem I might be facing. It need not be only the leaky tap or a clogged drain. He can get me an electrician, do minor carpentry work and even find a maid for me. Having to listen to the song is small price in comparison, don’t you agree?

You know something? When one keeps shifting houses and localities, sooner than later you end up in the same neighbourhood you have lived sometime in the past. So it is this time too. That means I have some good friends nearby! Isn’t that swell?

This small housing society is one of the older ones and so everything about it is ‘charmingly’ old-fashioned. Luckily, I am used to every type of facility and non-facility and the L&M doesn’t care about anything else so long as his TV is working and the internet is connected, and oh, there is a walking track and plenty of fresh veggies. He is one happy man these days I tell you, since all his needs are met. And I am one happy woman too because her L&M is not cribbing.

The first day we came to this house, my next door neighbor — a young mother of two –graciously offered us tea and snacks. I met another girl living in the flat upstairs, on the stairs. She smiled a wide toothy smile — friendly and welcoming. ‘If you need anything, let me know aunty,’ she told me. It felt good to hear the words, spoken with sincerity. It is rare to hear such welcoming words these days.

I don’t know why I liked this house the moment I saw it. Even the L&M was surprised. I had knocked off some of my requirements I look for in a house and bent some more of them. It was too small for one — the rooms were small, the kitchen smaller. The housing society was not tosh; there were no landscaped gardens nor was there anything elite about it. And yet I felt instantly at home. A fortnight and more here and I know my instincts were right: I can see kids playing hide-and-seek, tag and other games in the evenings. The mothers yell for their Sunnys, Buntys and Pinkys to come home this instant or else…The older women smile at you and ask, ‘Aur? Sab theek? ’ (So, is everything fine?) But the best part are the owners, who were happy to let it out to someone who would just take care of their property for a small rent.

And now for the ‘settling in’. I think I will always feel uncertain about any dwelling and so will never actually feel ‘settled.’ Perhaps this innate gypsy in me makes me restless. So used to change am I that I need to at least keep changing things around. The L&M will vouch for this fact.

When we wake up in the morning, he looks apprehensive and his first words are, ‘I hope everything is finally in its place now.’ What he means but doesn’t articulate is , ‘Are you planning any change in the house today?’ There is considerable trepidation in his voice, which mounts as I remain silent. My mind has been working overtime and I DO have some changes in mind.  I can sympathise with him, for he is the one who has to shove, pull and shift the stuff around. Not a single day passes without some major shuffling of things around.

‘Let me get everything sorted out right and then we can relax,’ I say in a mollifying tone. ‘And oh, by the way, could you please bring that shelf to this room? No, not there, here!’

‘But that’s where it was the day the before yesterday,’ he says exasperatedly. I shrug. Well, he would not understand if I told him that it had looked out of place there that day but looks fine today. Who can say about tomorrow? I can swear he has lost some hair in the weeks we have been here – pulling them out in exasperation!

This is all in addition to the enlightenment that I have got. I now know for a fact that minimal is maximal or put simply, ‘less is more.’ If a house can teach you such a valuable lesson in life, I think that house is worth all the adjustments one needs to make.

Take the size of the house for instance: by the time you finish asking, ‘where is the ….room?’, you are in it. I don’t need to walk miles to go from one room to another. It is more like a few steps and I am in or out of it! My kitchen is mine alone. If you want to enter it, I will go out. No, I am not upset because you want to come in, I actually have to go out – it is not designed for two cooks.  Probably the architect believed in the saying, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth,’

Initially I felt I had made a mistake taking this house. Our Mumbai days with its small flats are all way behind us and I felt cramped. Where will I put this cupboard? What to do with this table? Things big and small loomed large but slowly I started appreciating the house. From appearing cramped, it began looking cozy. And it is neat – I am using this word for want of a better one. It does not afford us to be sloppy – no throwing of stuff all over the extra spaces and surfaces – there are no extra surfaces! That means the house is neater. You see now what I mean?

Talking of houses, I can’t but mention the 27-floor Antilia, the residence of the senior Ambani. The costliest house in the world at $1 billion, it is a study in contrast to my humble home. Six floors are earmarked for the family, one for each of the six members. That is a mere one floor per person! Another six floors house the family’s 168 cars, add a few more since the news item is six-months old. Wonder what the family does with all that space? That merits a separate post. There are 600 maintenance staff to keep the house in order! And here I am cribbing about managing the single woman who comes to clean and wash.

There might be some who would chastise me for grudging the tycoon his house. Or even say it is sour grapes. After all, it is his money and he can damn well do what he wants with it – even build a 27-storey home. I don’t honestly know if he feels the coziness of smaller home. I bet he actually only relaxes in the few rooms where his family congregates during the day.  So what’s the point?

But I am digressing frightfully. Coming back to my home it is not that small, come to think of it – three rooms, a lobby and a sliver of a kitchen. Am I happy? Oh boy! I said less is more, didn’t I? We use only two rooms – one to sleep and work in and one to watch TV in and seat friends when they drop by! The third room is for the children when they come or when we have guests. Palatial? You bet! Just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so is spaciousness or lack of it, I guess.

Contrary to what the ad gurus would have us believe, more is less and the more the dil maange, the less satisfied it is. So when we go for more, larger, or costlier, we are only getting into a vicious cycle of need and greed.

We have discarded the unwieldy pieces of furniture and got some compact ones – including a hideous looking but incredibly comfortable small sofa! I am actively considering downsizing our lives further to live light and happy. Best of all, I have come to the conclusion that we can well live in a smaller apartment — even a motor home!

Do dreams come true?

 

42 comments

  1. my mom too says this.. when she was just married, my parents used to stay in a single bedroom house with few spares furniture.. she always felt happy cleaning and all work was done by 9 and she had lot of time for herself. now we daughters have moved out, they live in comparatively bigger home, but she cribs.. she says there are too many things, even after weeks of cleaning, she feels the house needs some more dusting.. she says the house has become big, but the surrounding ppl are not so friendly, the house looks empty without us( kids) and just filled with furniture’s of all types..

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  2. And btw, thanks for getting me out of my reverie on to your blog! I was out of the loop for so long, I almost thought I had lost all my readers! Was pretty much wasting away in frivolous non reading and non blogging activities for quite a bit! Guess, its time to jump out of that hiatus now!

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    1. I don’t have too many readers that I don’t miss my regulars. And I noticed that you were not there for a long time. And so I decided to chase you with my rolling pin 😀

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  3. Less is definitely more! I see these cluttered homes around me, and wonder why people have so much furniture, and endless cupboards stacked with stuff I wonder if they ever use! Less stuff, is so much more space for the body and soul!

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  4. Less is More – I can quite agree with this. I have 2 cell phones – nokia’s E71 and another one from nokia’s nest, C-1 (which costs just 1,400). Though I use the E71 as main phone, but whenever I use the other one as my main, I feel so light and comfortable. I can also feel that COZINESS of the thing being SMALL. Sames applies to living rooms and houses.

    By the way – nice articulation.

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    1. As far as mobiles go, the one that serves your purpose should be used, not going for any fancy features, most of which remain unused. And as you say, anything inexpensive is light to use because we are not burdened by the responsibility of keeping it safe. That’s why i prefer small places with less fancy stuff around the house.

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  5. Througly enjoyed your narration of moving into a house which makes you feel relatively cosy and settled. You have made it nearly alive with the swift glimpses of the neighbourhood too. Given to frequent shifting myself, the trepidations of L&M sound vaguely familiar….

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    1. Someone like you who shifts regularly and has to create a home from a house every time can empathise with the post. And yes, the L&Ms of every household is the bakra in this matter 😀

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  6. Small is beautiful and peaceful. If you have a big home, you are “forced” to fill it with suitable furniturers, interior items etc etc else you or your guest will say “looks EMPTY” and so you buy and fill stuffs and inprocess clutter it. Simple living is easy living. But the bottom line is Big or Small, your family makes it a HOME or it shall remain a HOUSE.

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    1. You said it Lakshmi! I have gone through that phase. Got a big house, needed suitable furniture and got them, got showpieces to fill the showcases and filled them, got table and other linen and crowded my cupboards….Now I have happily thrown out most of the things, given away others and am happy. Got just enough for us and the kids when they visit and the occasional guest. Love me love my home, right? 🙂

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  7. haha….I remember you talking about the small rooms. Yeah, big houses are a menace sometimes, especially when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. A small kitchen with everything in hands reach sounds handy.
    Talking of Ambani. Well he spent so much cash. If only he could have spent some more on a designer. Seriously, the structure is ugly.

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    1. the problem with small houses is that one has to really downsize and live light. Otherwise it can become claustrophobic. I agree with the designer bit. The house is more like a monstrosity sticking into the sky, isn’t it?

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  8. As someone who has just shifted houses a bit like you, I empathize with what you’v written 😉

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    1. Welcome here JJ. Thanks for the comment. I am glad you feel kinship with me 🙂

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  9. Loved this account of moving into your new home! Seems that you’re settling in nicely.

    Yes, a smaller house is a ‘clutter-free’ one. At least it should be- I’ve never quite managed that despite living in a small flat. 🙂

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    1. I am thinking of a major overhaul of the rooms again. And the L&M is decidedly nervous!! But I guess I will not do much after that. 🙂

      Clutter has a mind of its own. It can make itself present anywhere, big or small is immaterial. As long as the house is clean, clutter is fine 😀

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  10. The best part about shifting is you are forced to weed out all the unnecessary stuff you had been hoarding for years. Your maids are the happiest because they are at the receiving end of your largesse.

    Your cozy abode translates into less square feet to be cleaned(the maid will never crib), you get to bump into L&M more often and with your sliver of a kitchen, you might gain expertise in dishing out meals at express speed.

    Masterchef here comes Zephyr!!!

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    1. Hey, I am not cribbing! you know the other advantage of a small kitchen? I just stretch my arm — up, down, sideways and lo and behold! I have all the things I need. No running from one end to the other to get them 🙂 and come to think of it, cooking IS done faster. For someone who doesn’t fancy cooking, you have hit it bang on the head, Purba 😀

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  11. I get overwhelmed by the stuff in my dorm room, imagining what it’d be like if/when I have my own place!

    I think i’ll take inspiration from you and follow the ‘less is more’ mantra.
    😀

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    1. Living light is the best way to live. It is good for peace of mind and the bonus is that the place is clutter-free.

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  12. In the middle of the post, I forgot all about your house and went inside Ambani’s house, wondering over and over again what can a person do with the whole floor. Uffff! It was nice coming back to your one-at-a-time kitchen. And I feel pity for Ambani now 😆 He doesn’t know what he is missing!

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    1. i could picture you wandering around in that monstrosity of a house and rushing back to my kitchen LOL Did you manage to get in? Into my kitchen, that is…

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  13. Nostalgic memories of our old house dripped through my mind, where winter brought more warmth and summer led us to push each other out of the room. Less is always more….if realised, or else it will lead to an an eternal crave to shout “yeh dil maangae more” 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You said it — ‘if realised’. However, realisation is not easy to come by. We grow old and get knocked around till we learn the lessons of life.

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  14. I agree. The more simple we keep it, the easier and better it is for us !!
    Lovely post !

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    1. I am amazed at the things life keeps teaching — if only we care to see and learn 🙂

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  15. I used to be sad earlier that our house is small; but NOw I have realised that small means clutter free. It also means that there are no unneceesary purchases and thirdly the most important part- I can clean and mantain it myself without depending on a maid

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    1. Small is indeed beautiful. And you are right. We hesitate to buy stuff that might crowd the place, so it is also clutter-free. And another thing: there is no limit to the things we might want, but do we really need them?

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  16. Life settlement is a common word to all. If there is no satisfaction there would not be settle in life. I feel the life settlement is not a permanent. It may at the point of time. It may change after some days or years.

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    1. It is fine if it changes, as long as the change is towards downsizing of the lifestyle. There is more comfort and relaxation in simplicity. permanent settlement is when we cease to exist, till then it is life dynamic.

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  17. Know exactly what u mean. When we were looking for a place to stay, initially we were blown away by the fancy apartments with all the facilities and all. But somewhen when we saw our current house, it just “fitted”…we felt we had come home…out went the squash court and the olympic size pool and the likes!

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    1. Yeah, ultimately we use very little space in our daily lives. For those who want a favourite place in the house, it need be an entire floor, or even a room but a corner would also suffice. it is all in the mind, come to think of it.

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  18. A house can be small yet a happy place….its home.Cozy and comfortable. Keep the gypsy in you alive.

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    1. I will Alka. I have no choice; it is there in my genes, my blood…

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  19. i was just thinking on similar lines yday, amma..

    the office moved into a new space which is huge.. but over the months the space has shrunk in magically and feels cozy now.. its another matter that me being the only female, i am the much pampered princess here.. 😛 anyhow home is wr heart is. and for me its strangely the office 😛

    and yay, i am back, well almost 😀

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    1. It is great news that you are back, and hopefully the ‘almost’ will soon become a thing of the past. the space in your office would not have shrunk, but just got crowded with stuff 🙂 I know how it is. But yes, any place soon assumes a cozy feel when you begin loving it. All the best, princess!

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  20. Awww! Kala tikka post…what a wonderful way to look at a home..and I could almost feel I was with you in the not-so-posh place where neighbours still care and kids still play tag…lovely post cybernag. I am so glad Ratzz introduced me to your blog..every post brings a smile..
    and oh just to make you feel better, my mom is exactly like you. This is here one day and the next day she makes dad shove and place it somewhere else to be back to the original spot on the third day. and you know what her logic is. every corner of the house gets cleaned that ways! hmph! thats my dad’s reaction 🙂

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    1. It is nice to have you here too R’s Mom. And thanks for making me feel kinship with your mom! I can now tell the L&M that I am in good company and so he should stop cribbing 🙂 Your mother’s logic has great merit. Best way to clean the corners 😀

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  21. Yeh Dil Maange less it should be! True, Its not the furniture and the spaces but always the people and the love around that make a home! I am glad you have found a nice one 🙂

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    1. I usually make a home fast enough. But when the place has good vibes, it helps. 🙂

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  22. well said!

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