Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year...

Here's wishing all my readers a happy, peaceful, and safe 2009!

Happy New Year should also spell "Happy New Home" for me and my family. So I will be away from my blogs for the next few months as I will be moving houses.

Hope to be back with you all, dear readers and visitors, in the middle of 2009 when I share fresh snippets from my experiences of turning the new house into a real home.

Leaving you with a make-believe image of our living room that I created using the very interesting Arrange A Room tool on Better Homes and Gardens.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Painting Our Grills

We have had some harrowing times with getting odd jobs done around the new house. For one, due to the high demand for skilled masons, carpenters and painters in this area (due to lots of new construction projects), the workers charge an exorbitant sum. Imagine paying 150 rupees to get a 70 rupees worth door latch fixed!

Secondly, the quality is never guaranteed. In fact, we realized that despite paying a princely sum, we were very often at the mercy of completely unskilled labour. Like our fabricator who used inferior quality primer on our grill work, causing parts of it to catch some rust.

That is when the hubby and I decided to do the paint job for the new grills ourselves.

And so we’ve been hard at work the past two weekends trying to figure out how best to tackle it all. We bought some metal paint, a thinning agent, a couple of brushes and got down to it. Though our pace is rather slow, at least we know that the quality won’t get compromised. We just completed the grills on one balcony – they don’t look too bad, what say?

Will keep you posted on how and when the remaining ones get done.

Any tips from anyone on how best to finish our grill painting?

P.S: I must admit that I found the painting exercise immensely therapeutic. And got to spend some quality time with the hubby in the process. Talk of killing two birds with one stone!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Update

I haven’t posted anything here since the griha-pravesh for various reasons:

  • We (me and the hubby, that is) have been super-busy and unable to devote any time to the new house. So the poor house lies abandoned like an orphan child these days (and it breaks my heart to write this)…. However, there is hope yet. With a status change in my career (you can read about that here) I am hoping I will be able to focus more on the new house.
  • I haven’t received a single comment on the previous post, and that really depressed me. My feed tells me that a lot of you come strolling by, but no one stops to say ‘Hello’ and that is a little disheartening. After all, I write to be read, and unless you tell me how you find the content, how can I improve on it? So I’m hoping my pleadings will have an impact, and I’ll see more comments appearing on this blog.

Ok, after that bit of shameless self-plug, here comes a bit of good news. Right after the griha-pravesh, I won a Gallery Days Giveaway contest from the wonderfully talented Debbie. As a result the new house is getting a hand-made gift all the way from New York!!

Am I excited? Suffice to say that I can’t wait for the gift to reach me. :)) After all, who doesn’t LOVE gifts, especially such special ones.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Griha Pravesh: Alls Well…

Okay, now that the ‘pooja’ for the new house is done and over with, I can fill you in on all the (gory?!?) details. So here goes…

The date for the ‘griha pravesh’ was 14Aug08. Not just a random date that suited our fancies (and happened to be convenient). It was a date that was chosen after much deliberation, with due consultations with the priests and the Hindu ‘panjika’ or date chronicle. Brownie points to the family elders for all their contributions. (I hope none of them ever come visiting here, and discover the tongue firmly in cheek!!)

The previous day (13Aug08), when we were running around wrapping up stuff for most part, had already given us an inkling that the rain gods were choosing to participate in this one. As I broke off some leaves from a mango tree for the ‘pooja’ I was soaked completely. ….and bitten on the little finger of my left hand by one of these beauties. Ewww! The pain was awful and lasted right till the D-day.

So the massive traffic jam that started the day shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Result: the hosts reached the venue late!

Imagine our embarrassment…. I had to beg a cousin who stays a couple of blocks away from the new house to chip in and follow up with the caterer. Anyhow, we rushed through the decorations and the ‘alpona’.

An ‘alpona’ is a floor design traditionally created with rice flour soaked overnight in water. It is considered auspicious to decorate the house with these designs during rituals and special occasions. The pictures here show the designs I created at the main entrance…

and the ‘pooja’ location (the east wall of our living room, to be precise).

We put up a string of mango leaves and marigold garlands on the main door, again a propitious sign as per Hindu customs.

Finally when the priest decided to get started, the heavens decided to open up, and how! This one day the rain gods decided not to close any of their doors. So water came pouring down in sheets and buckets, and while we blew conch shells to purify the environs the rainwater created mud pools right outside the gate. Heavenly!

That image shows the priest hard at work, trying to appease the gods on our behalf. :)

By early evening, the ritual and the feasting was through. There was enough chaos with all the guests milling around, the kids creating a general racket, and the rain getting everyone sloshed.

P.S.: To add to our embarrassment, one of the guest cars managed to get rainwater up its engine as it navigated its way back through water-filled roads. The poor folks had to sit around twiddling their thumbs for a good two hours before the engine decided to rev up again….

P.P.S.: Me and the hubby had a safe night in the new abode, feeling cozy and secure from the rain as we sipped tea indoors. And later went to the terrace to check out a pretty sunset. :)

So, the moral of the story – Alls well that ends well.

Phew! long story that.... now lets hear it from you all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sneak Peek

Here’s a sneak preview of the house that is consuming so much of my thoughts, time and energies these days. To start with, this is a picture of the living room, or the drawing-cum-dining area.
To me, this space presents a design challenge for there are quite a few things that seem not-so-right with it:
* For one, there is a huge, long wall that needs to be visually divided between the living and dining areas.
* The main door is a tad too wide and takes up a lot of floor space when left open, even partially.
* Using conventional furniture placement (sofas, chairs and centre table on one side, and the dining table and chairs on the other) might just compromise with the visual flow by creating obstructions.

What a start when you don’t know how to deal with the first room of the house!

Then this is the master bedroom, the one part of the house that I am pretty happy with till now.

All its dimensions seem just right- so I hope to have our bed, a small area with my computer (that doubles up as a home office, if required), and some reading area where I can curl up with some good books.

Here’s a view of the fabrication work we got done in one of the balconies. I can already visualize how it would look after a paint job and some decent planters spruce it up.

I would have loved to show you the kitchen and the kids’ bedroom as well. But the kitchen is a mess as I am stocking up stuff for the ‘pooja’ later this week. And the kids’ room would look infinitely better when it has some furniture in it.

So finally, in preparation of the ‘big day’ that happens later this week, here is a picture of some baked clay pots that I painted for the ritual. What do you think of these?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Big Day: 3 weeks away

The date is set, the priest is booked, the guests (mostly extended family) are invited, and it is happening next month!! We have zeroed in upon a date for the “griha pravesh”, as the formal ceremony of entering a new home is called in most parts of India. And that means lots of activities, preparations, and running around. I am excited and nervous at the same time. :)

I promise to give a grand post on the actual event (with lots of pictures thrown in) but may just be sporadic in my postings this month because of you-know-what….

In the meanwhile, my hunt for Ganesha statues led me to a website I actually freaked out over…. Catch more about that here.

And wish me luck for the big day!

Friday, July 11, 2008

How It Goes...

Just thought of giving a low-down on our progress with the house. We are slowly inching closer to our dream of moving in. Each weekend is spent in getting something done for this newest member of the family.

Like last week we got iron grills put up in our balconies to beef up our security…. And add to the hanging garden I have pictured in my mind’s eye. I made sure our fabricator put up iron hooks on the grills from where I can hang some leafy beauties.

The next biggest item on our to-do list is to get a “pooja” done…. the actual ritual of getting a priest to perform “havan” (a religious rite involving consecration by fire) to mark a formal auspicious start of our lives in this new abode.

Have I told you that our house is very near to a railway track, and we can see trains passing all day? My kids, aged 2 and 4, love it…. After all you got to be a special kind of lucky to watch those long, winding trains gushing by, hooting loudly. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blue Pottery Planters

Ever since I saw the lovely tiled window sill that the builder provided in our kitchen, I have been scouting around for the right kind of planters. And finally I seem to have found what I was after…. Cute blue pottery planters - just the right size and shape for a lil’ herb garden. Can already imagine curry leaves, coriander and nasturtium blooms in them. :)

What I love about my planters are the designs on them. They don’t seem to have been crafted by a very experienced hand as you can see occasional squiggles going awry. But therein lies the beauty… they are quite different from the usual blue pottery designs that one sees around (like the ones in the picture here).

Agreed that my pieces aren’t half as bright but what the heck!They match the d├ęcor and colour scheme of my kitchen perfectly, and that is what matters.... Any ideas about what other herbs would work in a kitchen sill garden?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Terracotta Finds

Here’s a peek into the first few things I bought for the new house. Mostly decorative items that caught my eye as I visited a "haat" in the city. A "haat" is an open marketplace where rural artisans display their wares. We’ve been lucky to have a new one open in the city recently. More on that in a later post….

Going back to my new buys, the first was this teeny weeny terracotta tile that displays the Hindu symbol of auspiciousness – the Swastika. My husband wants to put this right above our main door. :)

Then came this terracotta planter that had been hand-painted in such vivid, beautiful colours. Can’t wait to plant a tulsi (as the Indians call the basil) in this pretty piece of pottery.

I'd love to post pictures of both these items, but I'd rather that you see them when they are in-action in the new house. Till then... have a great week ahead!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The handover

This weekend we finally got possession of the house. As the finishing touches were put in place, and the keys handed over by our builder/contractor. What a bunch it was! At least a dozen keys to God-know-how-many doors of the house. :) But it felt good to hold them… all shapes and sizes sitting snugly in our palms, as me and my husband celebrated with an embrace.
Another new start, another beginning… isn’t life so full of possibilities!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The never-ending story begins...

We are in the process of acquiring a new family home. Not that this is our first stab at realty purchase. But the first purchase was more out of necessity than any flights of fancy (financial constraints notwithstanding). This one comes closer to being a dream house.

Only, it is still a house – all mortar and bricks, with the outward trappings slowly falling into place. The tinkle of laughter, conversational chatter, drippy laundry, clanking cutlery…. and the warmth that a living space exudes, is still missing.

This blog aims to capture the essence of turning the house into a home, little by little, inch by inch. Stay tuned…

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