Sunday, 17 July 2011

The unbearable loveliness of things

I'm not normally the most materialistic of people, but today I made the mistake of wandering into an art and furniture shop in Hauz Khas village, a lovely little enclave in South Delhi built around the ruins of a 14th century Madrassa (theological college) and surrounded by a huge deer park. Oh, such a mistake. If there's one thing that India knows how to do, it's make objects of such loveliness that one's wallet practically leaps out of one's pocket of its own accord.

The thing is, I currently live in a rather large and very empty apartment. When I look at that exquisitely carved and painted wooden seat for somewhat less than the price you'd pay for one of IKEA's less nice sofas, I actually have a spot where it would work. That huge, beautifully painted panel? I have the wall spot for it. That delicately enamelled screen? Perfect to separate off my dining space. You would not believe the sheer number of lovely things and the number of arguments I had to have with myself to stop me buying them. There was even a swinging wooden double seat, complete with wooden frame carved in the form of various animals, that would fit beautifully in my living room. But, of course, it and all the other lovely, lovely things were entirely impractical.

Because the big empty apartment is a mirage. Anything I buy here would need to be shipped back to the UK, probably costing about as much as I paid for it. And of course, back in London I don't have a great big empty apartment. I have a tiny (but much-loved) flat that is already pretty much stuffed to the gills with furniture. So I am going to have to do a lot of resisting for the next couple of years.

But oh, lord, there were some lovely things. And my apartment really is very bare...

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