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      Volume 11 |Issue 31| August 03, 2012 |


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Where do they keep their stuff?

Aasha Mehreen Amin

Have you ever wondered when being shown the impeccably decorated, squeaky clean house/flat of your gracious host - where on earth do they keep their stuff? Stuff refers to all those things that have lost their use for the last twenty or so years but items that you just can't part with. They build up into mountains of memorabilia over the years and are usually kept cleverly inside drawers, cupboards, entire rooms that are forever locked up and only one person has the key. This is why when they show you their lovely bedrooms with fluffy cushions and symmetrically lined up stuffed toys and even the ironing room, there are no traces of those dust-gathering, space-occupying remnants of the past. It would appear that these people are just not hoarders – an ugly, mean term for those of us who value every little thing in life – they don't keep anything extra that they don't need or that doesn't go with their avante garde décor.

Cartoon: rlillustrations.blogspot.com

But don't be fooled even for a second. These people do have stuff. They just know how to make them invisible to the visitor's eye. Nobody has really found out where exactly they keep those Life magazines from the 70s, their clothes from the eighties that are sure to make a comeback, Quality Street wrappers in ten different colours, cassettes from those golden years, shoes with a little fungus (nothing a bit of spray paint won't fix) and a thousand other items of extreme significance. Wherever they are, they do exist and have been carefully preserved somewhere, somehow. It's no use looking into their cupboards and cabinets when you’re pretending to use their bathrooms; they are on to you and have preemptively taken out the stash and hidden it where you will never lay your eyes – like above the false ceilings or under the floor boards or even a secret chamber behind a suspicious looking painting of a ship in rough sea (remember the Chronicles of Narnia).

Sometimes these people are so brazenly confident that they show you their children's bedrooms with neatly arranged Lego figurines, rows of robots, Transformers and Doraemon paraphernalia, an entire Barbie utopia and Disney-themed bathroom.

After the grand tour when your self-esteem has reached ground zero you may be made to sit at a living room from the pages of ‘Travel and Living’ overlooking a diamond and ruby studded skyline while your host goes off to get you that much needed aperitif, probably with a little umbrella on it.

This is when flashes of your own home start haunting your delicate brain poisoned with self-loathing and ingenious rationalisation. Yes yes, the stack of old newspapers do look shabby next to the stack of old magazines over which you keep the charger for the laptop so you can find it in an instant. But it's all for the pursuit of knowledge and future research. And those bags that keep multiplying as soon as your back is turned – a bag for laundry you were supposed to send a month ago, bags of oversized, undersized clothes that need to be tailored (maybe some time next year), the bag of very important documents that you can no longer lug around all day long in your own bag, another one with old wrapping paper that should be reused, the bag full of bags, the bag of old clothes, the bag of new clothes and the bags full of things you may or may not need – but we'll sort that out later. Yes there are a hundred and one shoes lying about like hippies on a beach but who knows when you may need that shriveled up Kolapuri or the crisscrossed Gladiator sandals? The suitcases on the floor since January's trip? Apart from holding your everyday clothes (so you don't start an avalanche by opening the closet), they serve as tables where you can pile up more clothes. Stacks of heavy books too tend to become surfaces for other stacks of things until inevitably - it all comes tumbling down.

As for screens, hardcover books, cupboard doors that refuse to close - everyone knows that anything with a pointed edge is a perfect place for hanging stuff -a dressing gown, a wet towel, your favourite cap, a necklace that needs to be hung so its three layers don’t get tangled...

Your mind may wander towards your bathroom but thankfully this is the point when the self-torture stops as your host breezes in and offers to show you her rooftop garden.


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