Home Sweet Home – Smriti Saigal’s Two Balconies, Sector 47, Gurgaon
The world of balconies.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She first went up to the 6th floor, moved higher to the 13th floor, but later fell down to the first floor before settling down here on the 14th floor.
Her life has literally experienced all these ups and downs—from the ground floor of her parents’ house in Kanpur to the apartment towers where she has been living with her husband in Dubai, Gurgaon, Bombay, and finally back to Gurgaon, in the Greater Delhi Region.
Smriti Saigal suggests that she is happy with this 14th floor apartment—she adores balconies and in this home she has one on both side of her drawing room.
“I see the sunrise from one balcony and the sunset from the other,” says Ms Saigal from the isolation of her home in Sector 47. Dressed in a red cotton sari, she is chatting on WhatsApp; the pictures are taken through the screen that connects her to The Delhi Walla.
At a young age of 38, Ms Saigal seems to have attained a life of contended existence, and some credit has to be given to the intimate relationship she has created with her two balconies. Back in the BC (before corona) era, when her husband, Abhishek, would be out in the office and daughter, Aanya, out at the school for a good part of the day, she would be alone at home, reading the book-of-the-day by the dining table and occasionally raising her eyes to cherish the balconies and the world outside.
“I would spot figures walking on the road… nothing would be clearly discernible but there would be a sense of the world on the move… I would feel connected to its rhythms, I would feel alive.”
The view from the balconies looks hallucinatory even through the phone screen. There’s the sprawling sky, pinpricked here and there by the tips of the Millenium City highrises. These days the views are more colourful due to the blooming amaltas and gulmohar trees. Other trees too sooth the senses. “Each tree is green, but each has a different green.”
This afternoon a bird is sitting on the railing in the house’s west-facing balcony; it is as still as a drawing room showpiece.
Ms Saigal points out that one of the advantages of living on a high floor is that one’s balcony is not only visited by common pigeons but also my mainahs, bulbuls, cuckoos and other birds who tend to stay away from lower floor dwellings.
Alas, the lady no longer has the house to herself in the afternoons. The lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has terminated that privilege. “Now my husband and daughter are always at home, “ she chuckles. “But I still find time for myself, my reading, my writing.”
Now Ms Saigal goes out to the balcony (the one with the sunset) and stand by the balustrade. The bold bird refuses to fly away, as if it owned the balcony as much as Ms Saigal does. The scene looks like a painting.
Her life on the 14th floor