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Maximising your space while you minimise your stuff

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In the last of our four-part series on everything you need to know about moving, columnist and serial home-changer Arun Janardhan says that in your home, create areas where you perform certain functions. And try not to eat in bed!

Just a few weeks ago, after much sorrow and resistance, I was forced to abandon a pair of canvas sneakers that had lived with me for over a dozen years because their soles had ruptured into at least 20 pieces. It was a separation soaked in angst and some monsoon water. In another incident of equal heartbreak, a running shoe lost a part of its bottom last week and despite my best efforts of scavenging the footpaths of the neighbourhood from top to bottom, I could not find the missing piece and hence stick it back.

As fervent readers of this column would know, I am a keeper, a re-sticker, re-stitcher and staunch believer in using objects till they can no longer be used. I have been for a few years trying to minimise possessions and not get new ones unless absolutely necessary—not including Netflix, which is virtual anyway or the waffle iron and single malt, which is needed for preservation of one’s health.

Hence, one object always present at home is super glue, which requires much care to use. I once stuck my finger to a shoe I was wearing, which later proved that I could be quite bendy when needed.

A report last year in The Telegraph in London about Prince Charles reinforced my beliefs in stinginess, besides reminding me to alter my pants from the late 1990s. The Prince of Wales keeps scrap material from every suit commissioned in case it needs mending later. He is known to wear patched up clothes, his Royal Air Force uniform is understood to be from 1972 and he still wears a pair of shoes from 1971. He said in an interview to an Australian magazine: “I have always believed in trying to keep as many of my clothes and shoes going for as long as possible—through patches and repairs—and in this way I tend to be in fashion once every 25 years.”

Needless to add, I do not throw away much while moving houses because why give away CDs just because you have no CD player? They make for great coasters and who knows, like vegetarianism, they may come back into fashion. This habit bordering on hoarding allows me to retain a familiarity at my new dwellings, a monotony that’s as comforting as it’s lazy while keeping my belongings to a minimum. This also helps when you move next—don’t movers charge by the number of boxes packed?

Linda Goodman described Librans as folks who would straighten a photo on a stranger’s wall, turn down the volume of a blaring TV and whose need for balance can be annoying. I can sometimes travel great distances, like to the living room, to make sure the edges of the tablemat are parallel to the edges of the table.

Having said that, my meagre possessions are housed in specific corners of the house and they remain there till the next move. It helps me find things easily—unless I have kept something so carefully that it becomes impossible to find. This is also a reflection of the need for equilibrium and familiarity—even in the middle of the night, in complete darkness, you can find that bar of chocolate you kept in your jeans pocket as emergency in case there was no dinner at Damodar’s birthday party.

Maximising your space

If you have attended one of those meditation practices where you cannot speak for days on end, they will tell you to reach out for the same place in your home for your meditation. So for people like me, it’s important to organise our belongings in a manner that does not conflict with what we need to achieve with it. If the writing desk is facing a wall, when it moves towards the window, chances are my gibberish will become sentences sentences will become gibberish.

People like us can work in only certain places, prefer to write with a certain kinds of pens, read better in specific zones and eat everywhere except the bed (that leads to ants and itchy nights), which is the only exception. Whenever I have moved to a new place, I find these zones through trial and error and then stuck with it. One of my roommates from another era took great pleasure in switching my shoes—the right one to the left—and would watch me squirm for many seconds before I corrected them.

This is, of course, slightly detrimental to sharing of living spaces with another person. If that person happens to be a spouse, there are chances of discord. So be warned—or avoid marrying Librans.

But there is a certain value to this style of living—uncluttered and organised, with a slight chance of mess but not lack of cleanliness. As Kamila Shamsie writes in her book Home Fire about a certain dwelling, a home is one that makes no demands on you. It allows you to simply be.

This is the fourth and final part to the series on moving homes. The writer has lived in over 30 houses across seven cities. To find the other blogs on this subject, click here.


Ann Dominic

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