Desks. I’ve had all sorts. My love affair with them started when I schooled at Bishop Cottons in Bangalore – this was the best school I’ve attended in my life – and I’ve attended a lot of them. We had those traditional wooden desks that opened and closed, inscribed with the initials of generations of girls before us. The school turned 125 years old when I was there, so there’s no telling how old these desks were. Some were alike, most weren’t – but they all had a comfortable space inside them to keep your things cosily and smelled marvellously woody and musty. I remember arranging all my belongings tidily ‘tucking in’ pencils and erasers with the felt cloth that came with my glasses. And ink pots and fountain pens nestled in blotting paper. I would be ever so disappointed when my ‘place’ was changed – and I remember trying to drag my ‘own’ desk across to the new spot more than once rather than make another my own all over again.
Next remarkable desk was the one I ‘built’ in my attic as an 18 year old. Had a mini vintage lamp and a pin board over it and I had hours of anand presiding over this desk. Have had so many when I moved to the UK, a lovely one overlooking the Tay bridge when I was at uni in Scotland with pictures of my nieces tacked above it. My very first desk at ‘work’ was in a company I eventually stayed with for nine years and changed six jobs and five desks within. The very first one was in a tiny room filled with books which I shared with an elderly Englishmen who taught me more than he’ll ever know. He and I became the most unlikely of close friends. And the last one was in my very own office – the best one so far, which my friends Tony, Chris and Marty helped arrange and rearrange at least three if not four times. Wooden, grainy and old, ingrained with the work accomplished and thoughts thought of so many before me, it inspired and cheered me on as I did some of my best work. There’s so much that goes on on a desk – much more than work. It’s a place that I can run my life from.
These days I have no one desk, more’s the pity. They’re all borrowed and temporary and unremarkable. It’s a sign of things up in the air, of things needing to be cemented. Oh to settle down, Bombay – how I long for a desk.