I'm looking at things I've ignored all these years, thanks to this lockdown-induced disorientation. Such as the names of homes in my neighbourhood.
I'll begin with the street back of mine, with a house built across two lots. It's a palace in which lives a national treasure, a cricketer celebrated for having been dependable in any match, anywhere, against any foe. Never touched by scandal, this is a golden boy adored without exception.
Samanvay, reads the plaque on the player's house in supersize letters. I browsed the many meanings of the word on the web, and what the sportsman has in mind is, I think, the shared, core essence of all things. The other meanings are greater googlies when viewed in the context of a naming a house.
Let me move on, up to the end of the cricketer's street that terminates at a T-junction. It stops before a neoclassical pastiche, with fluted columns and all. Bliss is its name, and aptly so, I think, for a towering dig on the heights, with German cars in front. The dwelling on the right of Bliss is Sakura, with a leafy compound. I haven't had the pluck to peer in and check for the blossomy sakura tree. Is Sakura built by somebody who served in Japan for a time?
Left of Bliss is fatalistic, grateful Providence, and is of a piece with the style of Bliss.
As regards Zuriberg, down the lane from my house, they say the owner used to be a doctor in Switzerland. And Maple up the street belongs to an elderly occupant (a Padma Vibhushan) who taught physics in North America. I suppose Belvedere, a short distance from the neighbourhood park, earns its name from being such a stately mansion to whose upper deck treetops and rooftops of all other dwellings pay obeisance. Its name is engraved on metal, and amber light washes over it from above. Right by Belvedere, are the inhabitants at La Dolce Vita devoted fans of Fellini? Or did they live for a time in Italy? Like Belvedere, this is an inscrutable masterpiece with forbidding walls and gates and frowning guards.
Not all names need much guesswork. There's Padmashree, soaring above the park, where lives the top leader of the ruling political party. Padmashree relates to the goddess of wealth whose feet ever rest on the lotus. Also, the lotus is the sacred symbol of the minister's party. The leader is honest about his aspirations: power and wealth. I can tell you he is a good man, and rather young for one in such an exalted role.
His neighbour round the corner lives in Ratnalaya — the abode of gems.
I'm going to stop here. I just passed Tranquility, written in elegant cursive. (This world that's closing in on us has been ominously tranquil for weeks now.) Let me tell you where these homes are. They're in Dollars Colony, called so because one had to pay in dollars to buy a piece of it. The American currency was scarce when the plots were first sold, and the government hit on an idea to earn some.