That Laundry Bag Called “Complaints”

by | Sep 20, 2016

Every time I move to a new place, this line keeps popping up in my head:

These walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them. After long time you get so, you begin to depend on them. That’s institutionalised.

– The Shawshank Redemption

And I can’t explain the accuracy of this statement as far as my experiences are concerned so far. Although its about a prison, it works perfectly well for many instances in life too (maybe because there is something about Morgan Freeman’s voice that makes you believe that everything he says is wise and true). But this time, I was afraid that it would stop there at the first step. As I packed my bags from Udaipur, I was preparing for my Urban Immersion once again for the 22nd year of my life. I didn’t seem to understand what difference this year would bring anyway. I hoped it wont be the same old, same old life again.

So I convinced myself that it wouldn’t be so bad. I nursed my disappointments with thoughts of exploring the city; my new apartment; the travel that my work has promised me to offer; discovering new cuisines and what not. Somehow the ones placed in the cities are considered to be the lucky ones: less struggle, more comforts, you’ll have fun, they said (co-fellows, of course). But when you’ve taken an oath to be on your own after your bachelors and you have a shoestring budget to stick to, its not all that fun. The oath walked out of my door as soon as I moved here, but that’s another story.

Then I arrive at my PG in which I will be staying for the whole of August; where I will give that good old “Hindi is not our national language lecture” to my roommates for the millionth time in my life (still learn the language anyway, because I have no choice); where my roommates would switch off the lights and fall asleep by 11 pm and to add more joy, I would have four toilets lined up just outside my door. And finally, the rules and regulations put up by my roommate to make me wonder, if she was the one paying my rent. Still, I hoped there would be something great to look forward to.

There began my house hunting sessions. What started off with a regular search on real estate sites and social media went on to become regular visits to different (shady) localities in Delhi. I became that creep who sent “Is that room still available? Can I be your flat mate?” messages to random people on Facebook. But I had to make a choice between being homeless and shameless.

I never knew that a room which looks slightly bigger than a match box would cost my whole salary and humans considered shelves to be kitchens. There, I witnessed the apparent comforts the big city had to offer me.  In between all this my phone got mugged; received spam emails from my guardian angel on the same day and one more from the program team on how to save your salary responsibly, later. Nothing was comforting, to be precise.

But everything began to fall in place gradually. After a whole month of nothing but complaints, I saw a ray of hope emerging from all that I went through: I created a “home” out of the house I found for myself; work got upgraded from analysing excel sheets to background research for the new project I will be working on; I began to teach English to an office staff in Hindi and shared a cup of tea with my maid in the mornings as we struggled to understand each other’s Hindi. Most importantly I have a piece to write for my third blog post, my 2am coffee break and the silence to write that in peace.

There is this huge laundry bag in our life called “complaints” and it needs regular clearing. No maid or machine is going to help us do that. Its no surprise that it gets magically filled each time. But that’s the task. It’s a whole different joy to stand back and look at the empty bag each time. I am trying everyday, with all my heart—to embrace this city, to do household chores with some good music on, to sit patiently through the slow flow of water from the taps, to become a minimalist to reduce the clutter around, to tolerate the 6 am power cuts, to love my work a bit more, to wake up a bit early to relish my morning coffee. I am trying.

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  1. Swati Saxena

    I love your style of writing. This is such an easy read and still says so much.

  2. Anupama Pain

    🙂 … lots of love for writing this piece. And just when you will settle; may be you will be uprooted and asked to re-do all of this. The bag will slowly fill again and in a few month’s time i hope you will remember to empty it! Forever available if you wish to do that over a cup of coffee in South Delhi 😛

    • Maithreyi Kamalanathan

      Thanks Anupama. There is so much truth in what you actually mentioned. But yeah, we’ll meet soon 🙂

  3. Suresh

    Good one Maithy. Congrats . Keep trying.. all the best!


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