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Dream Journal of A Laid-Back Slow Living Hygge Life

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

A sea-sided barsati was all that I have ever dreamt of…

For the uninitiated, barsati is derived from the Hindi word "Barsat" ,meaning rain, hence a barsati is a small rooftop room or a single room apartment on the terrace with a verandah outside, mostly in north Indian buildings. However, there is no sea in north India. So lets have our barsati in a sea-facing sub-urb residence in any coastal state.

A ripe tiny garden, the pride of the porch is crowded orderly with flowers planted on tubs, old boots and pickle jars, carefully poked holes in their bottoms to let the water drain out. Indian rose bushes, with its delicate but fragrant petals and bougainvilleas of nearly all known shades, together are rustling and waving to the distant breeze of the giant water body. There must be this one sole tree of wildly blackberries, a grand feast for sneaky neighbourhood kids and tiny chirpy morning birds. Or what about a mango tree... the one in the lane, that all young and old hearts goes eyeing it, craving the unripe fruits' sweet and sour taste, every summer.

At times the barsati is also gently replaced by a silent looking whitewashed cottage sort of a house. Quiet and neat, giving away a retro bed-and-breakfast appeal. If you ever happen to visit Guwahati's legendary neighbourhood of Uzan Bazar area, you may take a walk around to see for yourself those elegantly built and maintained Assam-type cottage houses. On my visit home in the last two-three years, it has been a routine for me to be around that area, citing one excuse or the other, to stroll around the river bank eyeing along these beautiful residences. My most favourite part of the city. So taking inspiration from those neatly lined-up urban folktaleish homes lets come back to the further construction of this daydream.

I once chanced to visit an old house. Its wooden staircase was creaking under slight change of weight. It was almost shaking the entire building, or that was what I imagined. This flight of stairs takes you to a room that was forever occupied by old rustic wooden cupboards and vintage window grill work. And in those cupboards sat in tidy rows some precious looking bone china, a few framed sepia-toned photographs and an little toys that belonged to some boy who has by then turned many pages of adulthood already. There were also a few old hardbound books in faded crimson and blue covers.

I was hoping that they were some classics of earliest editions, or maybe some adventurous old aunt who took up to travelling across continents and wrote about her Gellert Hill evening romances in Budapest, or how she was stranded thirsty and fainting in a Xinjiang summery afternoon. Maybe they were nothing but some old secret recipe diaries after all…

All one need is all the time of the world to read them, while the white, lacy curtains flutter with the wind and the light.

Waking up each morning you discover the explosion of sounds - the blue sea, the crashing waves, the breezy wind… and a chime made of shells… A mug of frothy coffee, roasted toast smeared with dollops of marmalade, golden fried eggs, and a handsome piece of rich moist brownie - a gifted beginning, only getting better and better.

Going cycling on dusty, muddy lanes with pals, licking fruity popsicles, or wolfing on ripe stolen mangoes on a hot summer afternoon, before falling into a languid siesta…

On a rainy weekend, sweating along a game of soccer with the neighbourhood kids at the beach, while getting drenched to the bones…

And on the way back home, jumping into the water puddles, making a complete mess of oneself! Or walk out of the house on a heavy drizzling evening, with an umbrella to the nearest tea-shack, and enjoy a sip, with priceless tales of good old times with a jolly old chap with the wrinkled face and the warmest smile!

Evenings would be quite and happy, sitting on a bench with a book of Ruskin Bond (telling about his window and the street below, mountains and rains, brooks and deodars, swallows and a mountain boy going after his goat) and occasionally watching old couples holding hands, whispering to each other walking by remembering their days of youth and love!

Parties would mean, friends: ageless, happy souls, strumming guitars or ukulele, singing out to all and dancing away, passing on steak and egg plates and pies and mousse, giggling over wine, in the light of candles and antique lamps, while the sea and its sound playing in the background.

Sunday afternoons would be spent playing the piano to sweet little kids singing to them carols and old school songs… or maybe just bake a delicious chocolate cake and call an old friend over coffee… or give a push to the neighbour’s family vintage and later joining in for a joyride to the countryside… 

Later enjoy the new coffee and walnut cake by the neighbour downstairs or play cricket with the older 'kids' out in the deserted afternoon alleys. Go visit the market and have a ‘cut-throat’ bargain over the favourite pieces of the fish.

Calling it a day, wishing the sea a good night as the shells in the chime clinks to the breeze... hmmm…

So much to do... so much to do...

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