Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mumbai freeze-frame: Wimbaldone

3. Wimbaldone

It was a large apartment, and that’s putting it mildly. The private elevator from the basement car park brought one up to the twenty-third floor penthouse to be immediately greeted by a large oval mirror framed in intricately designed wrought-iron. As you walked in, there appeared large open passages to either side. You are subliminally led on to the left, perhaps due to the angular placement of the large potted plant under the showpiece antique half-table placed under the mirror. You are then welcomed into a large living room with assorted pieces of art occupying even the most hidden spaces. Busts of vaguely recognisable historical figures, rolled up charts of what seemed like technical blue-prints, sketches of nudes on paper etc., were scattered behind the side-arm bolsters of the white buff-leather couch, under the rosewood side tables, behind the gleaming steel rack that housed the entertainment literature, below the monumental plasma screen on the wall facing the grand piano placed at the far end of the room, and next to the french windows leading on to the large unfettered balcony.

That day there were three people at tea in the balcony. It was that pleasant time of the evening when the normally rabid wind was temporarily lulled into a false sense of security by the sea.

‘I really don’t know what was wrong with him.’ said the host.

‘Yes,’ said the woman taking a sip of her zinfandel. ‘He was out of control.’

‘It can’t help that he lives where he does,’ said the guest, studying the framing that held the striped red and white café-umbrella above them, in place.

‘But still,’ said the host, ‘Someone has to take a stand with him at sometime or the other.’

‘I knew of this child once who had to be sent away, to an institution somewhere in Northern Europe, because she was always shouting out obscenities, even in front of other people.’ said the woman.

‘It leads on to other things later.’ said the guest, cryptically.

‘He has that mean and hungry look of a pariah.’ said the host.

‘Well, he certainly looks under-nourished.’ said the woman.

‘The last time I saw him, at Sheila’s wedding, he looked much bigger.’ agreed the guest.

‘Well. What is anyone going to do about it?’ said the host.

‘I’d rather not think about it. His mother is under the impression that the whole world is her mall. She was in Rome last week. I think she’s in Jerusalem now.’ said the woman.

‘A case of the broken home, I suppose.’ said the guest.

‘Certainly not.’ said the host, offended.

A studious silence later, they got up all at once as if by a common signal, and made their way to the master bedroom to which there was a little bridge connecting the two wings from the balcony, that saved them the effort of walking inside.

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