Halls and Hallways

It is possibly only in India that the living room is also called the “hall”. In the  UK, where I briefly lived, for example, the “hall” in the home refers to the hallway, the little passage that connects together all rooms. Actually, thinking about it, it is not surprising that the living room in India is called the “hall”, since it also performs the job of the hallway.

We rearrange the furniture in our home fairly often. Recently we had people moving in downstairs after that house had been empty for over a year. The first thing we told the new neighbours was that we rearrange our furniture rather often, and we’ll try our best to do it without noise.

That said, most of our recent rearrangements have involved the bedrooms. The living room has been left alone, since we’ve been completely unable to “plan and draw”(as my chemistry teacher used to say in class 12 while teaching us orbital diagrams).

The problem, we realise, is that our living room has “too many orifices”. It is a rather large room that combines the living room and the dining room. The main entrance into the house leads into it. And one bedroom, the kitchen, one balcony and (finally) the hallway that lead the two other bedrooms and one bathroom lead from it.

This large number of orifices for our living room means that there are few “U-shaped spaces” which can be converted into nice living quarters, with a TV, and comfy sofas, and what not.

And when I think about all the other houses I’ve lived in in India, this has been true there as well – the living rooms have had too many orifices, and the houses haven’t sufficiently made use of hallways to separate out rooms. The result, everywhere, has been living rooms where you have televisions that don’t sit directly opposite sofas, living rooms where the sofas are massively misaligned, and so forth.

Earlier on in the pandemic I had lamented the death of the verandah – as a in-between space where you could meet people who you didn’t want to invite into the fullness of the home. If and when I actually build a house (rather than buying one), I’ll possibly want both a verandah and a hallway.

I’m increasingly questioning why it became fashionable at all to have the main door of your house leading straight into the living room.

Mahabharata at home

I was Parikshit. I was peacefully reclining on my bean bag and watching football when an ant that had been crawling on the floor decided to attack me. Like its cousin Takshak, it bit my foot so hard that that I was screaming in pain. Unlike Parikshit, though, I didn’t die. I instead turned into Janamejaya.

For this vile act of this one ant, I decided to put an end to the entire ant race. Unlike Janamejaya, I didn’t bother with trivialities such as conducting a yagna, feeding mongooses, reciting the Mahabharata and stuff. I immediately swung into action, with a Mortein Gold bottle in hand. I sprayed the liquid liberally on the line of ants that was walking across my living room, on the carpet, on the kitchen shelf even. I sprayed Mortein with a vengeance, in an attempt to put an end to the ant race. Massacre did happen.

That night I couldn’t sleep so well. I still can’t yet decide if it was because of the pain of the ant bite, or because of the sin I committed by murdering so many innocent ants. Maybe reading the Mahabharata once again will help me get rid of this sin.