From where I am sitting, I can see the curtains at the windows. The windows enclose the “gol-baranda” – translated from Bengali, that means the “circular verandah/balcony”. Actually a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t a balcony at all, but a good sized room with a roof and four walls. But one of the walls is curved in a semi-circle, with glass windows spanning its breadth. The unusual shape of the room, gives the impression at first glance, of the deck of a ship – as if one might just step out and step off inadvertently, if one was not careful! The “gol” in the name can be attributed to this shape. Besides, we love balconies and hanker after them, particularly the crescent moon shaped ones.
The glass windows are unfettered by grilles. Perhaps a compromise on safety, even if we are on the third floor .But then , how else,can one marvel at the orange-red “flame of the forest” in the park outside, in glorious contrast against the overcast steel coloured monsoon sky; reach out and catch the raindrops ; or spot the little coppersmith barbets flitting from branch to branch in the crisp winter air, the green of their wings , exactly matching the leaves of the banyan tree and their crimson foreheads a perfect camouflage against the red banyan fruit, that they love to feed on!
The curtains in a floral blue and green print against a white background, blend in the with the surroundings – or so we like to think! They are drawn close on hot summer afternoons, when the light from the park outside, seeping in through the curtains, seems to emit a green glow.
We also sometimes refer to this room as a study- but with so much going on in the world outside, it’s no wonder that very little studying actually gets done here! And that reminds me of one of the arguments I had once heard when curtains were first being put up – should the colourful side, the right side, of the curtains be facing the room-and provide a pretty sight for the family members and guests? Or should it be the other way round, and the colourful side face the outside world, so that the house, from outside, looks prettily framed? Inside Out, or Outside In? I am not sure I still know the answer to this.