Ugly furniture and a bout of efficiency

I would have never picked them


Nivriti Butalia

Published: Sun 28 May 2017, 6:22 PM

Last updated: Sun 28 May 2017, 8:24 PM

 I have the ugliest furniture in the world, inside and outside. I say it so blithely because it's not mine. Those awful tables, those rickety, unimaginative, not-even-sleek chairs. They can't be mine. I would have never picked them.
I don't know who did. Must have been my land-lord. He's a sweetheart. From time to time, on Whatsapp, we swap holiday pictures and hysterical jaundiced emojis. He probably just flitted through Dubai's Craigslist, and picked up something from the first page of results that showed up 11 years ago when he bought the flat that we've now leased. I know he bought the flat 11years ago because he said so once at Café Bateel over hot chocolate that he paid for.
Now, in the years that we've been in this house, apart from spilling paint on it, I've done nothing about the furniture situation. Too much effort plus why waste money. I told myself accepting the hideousness of the world is part of life. You can't change every-thing. The furniture made me into a garden-variety philosopher. That's cheaper than a student loan for a post grad course. But it also left me conflicted on things like aesthetics versus practicality versus cash management versus what's good for the soul.
I once visited a karmic healer in Delhi who had a lot to say about this. She incidentally, had fantastic furniture - rosewood or walnut or something with deep green leather buttoned seats, very officious. After scribbling my birth date and birth hour and moon from across a gorgeous writing desk, she told me my purpose in life was to manage conflict, pro-fessionally and personally. This was irritating. What kind of a purpose is that? I wanted my Rs500 back from this cow with the great sofas.
Of late though, I have reached the end of my tolerance for hideous furniture. In part, I blame Instagram. I follow a bunch of design and architecture magazines and strangers with fine aesthetic sensibilities. Every time they post a fabulous photograph of a nook, I mentally pull out my hair. Why do this to myself?
So, in a sudden bout of efficiency - induced also by having decided not to move houses after all (sweet landlords are hard to come by) - I decided to air the efficient side of my brain and Do Some-thing!
On a walk back from provisions shopping, and as I was crossing the ever-pleasing Le Pain Quotidien, carefully swinging, but not swinging too much, my bags of eggs and Greek yogurt and organic peanut butter and the rest of it, I once again admired their round tables and the nice chairs and thought these would look great on the balcony. If we're not moving, we may as well upgrade a bit. Wrought iron round tables with green marble would brilliantly substitute what passes off as our garden furniture - a table piled up on a table in one corner of my otherwise lovely balcony. They're kind of chest bumping tables legs in the air and I have the audacity to label myself as a person with fine aesthetics.
 I put grocery bags down, pulled out phone, typed garden furniture on dubizzle, and almost instantly saw a wrought iron contraption with rattan seats that I thought was just the thing I needed to complete my life. Called the number right away. Hi! Is the garden furniture sold yet? No? Great!
 Female voice on the line gave me the table-chair dimensions in centimeters - legs 75cm, length 145cms, width 78cms. She was selling to fund a cat's operation. Poor cat apparently had a lump on its neck that could be cancerous. All this discussed on the phone in under three minutes. Anyway. I told her let me go home and measure my balcony and see if table and chairs would fit, and get back to her.
Half an hour later, after struggling with converting metres and millimetres into centimetres - thank god for a husband who knows to do those conversion table thingies - I messaged her that the deal was on. She even dropped it off in her 4x4, saving me the trouble and cost of a delivery van. And just like that, after five years, and in under 12 hours since action initiation, I've got some less ugly furniture.

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