Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Blue Room Confirms It

To me the ultimate couple, engrossed in each other, has always been the image of a teenaged Isaac and his tree. Completely oblivious to the world around them, Sir Newton would spend hours under that apple tree, unaware that one apple would follow what all apples till then had and which all apples after it will, and he would gifts Gravity to us.

I am no Newton, just in case you had to be reassured, but I also have my partner in solitude, of 17 years now. The blue room. The bathroom, as it used to be called in those days when dudes were referred to as bosses, and cool meant a milder form of cold. With the passage of time it has been conferred names to rival in number those of Indian Gods, Restroom, Washroom, Loo, Gents and so on. But the blue bathroom in my house, where my parents and sister stay now, remains special.

I was just over six when I entered it for the first time, and the attraction was the 'western style' commode. If you don't know what the other style(s) is/are, you are doing good. Anyway the room is not too large, 10 feet by 4 at the most. Has blue tiles covering the walls till quite high up, and the usual basin, bucket and mugs, a few faucets and taps, clothes rod, water heating immersion heater and the mirror above the basin with a row of bottles, tubes and bars of soapy, shampoo-ey and other liquidy things.

Somehow it always used to be the 'cool'est part of the house during hot summer afternoons, before the air conditioner took pride of place in one of our bedrooms that is, and I used to take a stack of newspapers or books and spend a good amount of the long summer afternoons on the commode. It was this place which introduced me to the editorial page of The Telegraph, the Kolkata based newspaper I still visualise when someone mentions newspaper. Sitting on the commode I learnt about the Mandal Commission, the gene theory, read most parts of the Harry Potter books, memorised many of the poems in my school syllabus and imagined myself to be in the shoes of all the Bill Clinton, Sanath Jayasuriya, Tom Hanks and others about whom I read in The Telegraph.

The bathroom being a scarce resource in most households, including ours, I learnt to read fast on that blue commode. I skimmed through the articles, read the sports and international sections inside out and at least three other articles and solved the anagrams on the third last page of the paper, in fifteen minutes flat, unless someone else from the family had biological needs clashing with my timings. I will take this opportunity to thank the rarely mentioned room for most of what, if at all, can be called my quizzing exploits. It was this place where I rehearsed my speeches for school and college farewell, and before every show I conducted I practiced most of my jokes on the bluish bucket, the twice painted wooden stick, stack of unwashed clothes and the mirror above the basin.

This is in fact the part which prompted me to write the article. The basin has as much of a significance in my life as the Amazon basin to the tapirs and piranhas of Brazil, keeping creative liberty in exaggeration in mind.

When I saw the basin for the first time, I had to stand on my toes to somehow turn on the tap in the right hand corner. With the passage of time, I could perform this task with alarming ease and on all my ten toes and the soles of my two feet. Then the moment arrived. I could see myself in the mirror perched above the basin, which had always been the benchmark of 'I Have Arrived' to my eight year old brain till then. It was the same mirror which showed the first signs of facial hair, and was also the first when I first rubbed the blades of the shaving razor against those facial hair, which by that time had become a little ungainly.

In the meanwhile, I crossed the basin. I had to stoop to conquer my reflection. I admired what nobody else ever did or will. My Greek God good looks. The same place provided a rude shock yesterday morning after I took my bath. Everything was in it's place as it has mostly been over the last seventeen years. When I looked at the mirror above the basin all I could see was a huge, bulging mass of flesh. The big fat paunch cried out loud ' I Have Arrived.'

I toweled myself dry and quickly put on some oversized clothes. The Blue Room confirmed it.