Of all of Elif Safak’s books that I have read, The Architect’s Apprentice is my least favourite. It’s quite laborious and tedious in many ways. However, I took something away from the book that I turn to sometimes whenever I can remember that I am a (dormant) artist. An artist nonetheless. In the book, the architect demonstrates to his apprentices an unparalleled commitment to his work, and as a consequence of which, they not only respect him but also take their craft seriously. At one point in the book, the architect or the narrator, I cannot remember who, explains how larger than life, long-lasting art is created. It is built when and only when ones art becomes greater than the self. Only when your creation rises above your ego (collective ego, when working with a team) you’re able to create something truly magnificent. Sometimes I wonder if God tried to rise above Himself, too.

When I travelled recently, I met P. I stayed in her lovely home, and finally got around to petting her cats. Also, we shared quite a few cups of coffee in the lawns of our campus talking about this and that. In between interesting dinners, a scrabble game, tall floor lamps, lots of boiled corn on the cob, and pot pourri, I saw time trickle away. It’s always said how Mumbai is fast, but one doesn’t really understand it unless you stay elsewhere. I just wish our city had much lesser people and big enough houses. At P’s I could deal with the fact that everyone had their own rooms, even the cats, but when I saw the washing machine had its own place that just did it for me. That’s my (amended) life goal now – to buy a house where the washing machine has its own space. Yes, that happens where P lives.

I tried to maintain my exercise regime while away and I did my suryanamaskars diligently for one week post which I joined the ranks of those who sleep in late and rush for breakfast before they rush to work. Much tch tch. But I was so stoked that the canteen there had boiled corn on the cob and sugarcane juice. I mean – yes, that infuriating absence of a better adjective – sugarcane juice in a canteen! Who does that? *Insert appropriately funny rhetoric.*

Among the various eye-widening things I came across, I’ve longed to post on this blog the magnetic poetry set I was introduced to. I stayed with a friend who had a set and she allowed me go “knock myself out”. It’s a really exciting thing to own. When I have my own house, I’m going to get a set, too. And every time I get down to cooking and I wait for the rice to boil or the meat to soften, I will rearrange the words to make meaning, and sometimes to break meaning. She also had a colouring book for adults that I coloured in while I waited for P for our last dinner in the city. We went to a place that embodied wit, and was right next to another place called Tabula Rasa. I’ve lost the art of beading stray incidents to make a necklace of signs from the universe. But if I could, that would make me chuckle. Oh what the heck, it still does.

Sometimes homes becomes people, and at others, people become homes. I met Boy for a while, too, who insisted that I must write no matter what, because my life depends on it. In some ways I was glad someone could remember what I started out to do. I was sad that the person who could remember it had to be leaving. Sigh. Well, he’s as handsome as ever, and oh that glorious hair! What did I ever not do to deserve a lustrous mane is beyond me. But one tries to put one’s faith in newly bought hair serum and heaps of fake self-confidence.

Until I can write about better looking hair, and poems about the meeting place of miracles, I realize life must expand while you’re at it. A pot pourri basket, a colouring book for adults with colour pencils, and a set of magnetic poetry will help do the job well.

“Run frantic
to yourself.
The moon is blue.”
– On the fridge





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