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Monday, July 4, 2016

Middle Class Sofay Ki Kahani



Not very long ago, there was something called Sofa. It was the finest piece of furniture in the house. If you are a boy, I am very sure you never cared about it. For girls, we devoted our Sunday, Saturday and all other holidays dusting or decorating it. Only worthy guests were entertained on the sofa. Rest of the lot - Sharma Aunty, Priya ki Mummy and Neelam Aunty never saw the light of our sofa, let alone had a feel of it. I remember, I truly grew up the day my mother said - Jaa ab sofay ki dusting kar! My eyes welled. From side table to sofa was a huge transition, and I stood up to the challenge. I washed my hands with soap, and searched for daddy ki purani baniyan and switched on the drawing room light. I even remember the cut-color-clarity of our sofa. It was of rexine. Rexine was the middle-class version of leather. We had no idea how to differentiate leather from rexine. We judged it by the standard of the house - Bada ghar toh leather, varna duplicate! I liked rexine. It was easy to clean. Once a guest spilled samosa chutney on it and I cleaned it with Rin. Such was its durability! It was dusting-friendly too. Faux ki duniya mein sabse vafadar!

Time changed. Rexine was kicked out and Velvet Sofa came into being. It looked royal, but was difficult to maintain. However, the most difficult decision while upgrading our sofa was not of fabric, but color. It was around Diwali. We went to the market and Dukaan wale Uncle ji showed us velvet sofa and said, ‘Sofa in magenta color is in.’ ‘Yeh to Dulhan vala color hai,’ was my brother’s golden reaction. I think he must have seen too many brides in magenta Lehenga. ‘No-no-no!’ my mother rejected it in three words. Dukaan wale Uncle ji pointed towards printed brown velvet sofa. Mother felt a little comfortable. Brown and black are two favorite colors of middle-class women. Purse, shoes, back-clips, lipsticks - when in doubt, buy brown or black. Middle-class ki tarah, ye do colors har kissi situation main adjust kar lete hain! We bought the sofa and two kilos of gulab jamun to treat the neighborhood. The highlight of that evening was me and my brother stuffing gulab jamun in our mouths whenever mom asked us to bring it from the refrigerator to treat the guests. Calories ka to pata nahi, par aadha kilo gulab jamun to kha hi liye honge!

We took good care of our brown velvet sofa for many-many years. It’s such a pity that our sofa was the first thing that submerged when flood hit our town. We couldn’t save it. And Sai Baba ji also failed. I told my mother 13,200 plus freight doesn’t make it worthy for Sai Baba ji. He must be busy saving Chauhan’s sofa costing whooping sixty thousand rupees. After all, even God has to set his priorities right. Right? Now, true to our middle-class nature, we didn’t change the sofa. We fixed the broken parts, puffed the foam from here and there, and dry cleaned it. ‘Ab naya sofa to bete ki shaadi mein hi aayega!’ as one wise neighborhood aunty professed.

Our parents still own that brown velvet sofa. It is the biggest survivor of our house, sizewise. It is, also, a jukebox of memories -

I remember my mother’s winning smile when she negotiated down the price of the sofa by 300 rupees. ‘Itne mein mithai aa jaayegi,’ her five-word winning speech!

I remember when my mother used to iron the sofa back covers, I placed them instantly to avoid creases. I also made sure no unworthy person sat on it, just to avoid creases.

I remember my family celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and even entertaining one super-worthy guest, their ‘son-in-law’ on that brown velvet sofa.

Best of all, I remember post my marriage, when I asked my brother to adjust the cushions, he snubbed me by saying, ‘Apne ghar ja kar sofa-sofa khel!’ To which, I said, ‘I have a couch, not some middle-class sofa!’

By the way, till date, I don't know how to differentiate couch from sofa. One thing I surely know, middle class may own one average sofa for many-many years, but they knit hundreds of memories around it. That got me into thinking - Papa ne ‘Sanam Bewafa’ ki cassette aaj tak sambhal ke kyun rakhi hai?

Post  Script - Not very long ago, there was something called sofa - jo ab couch ho gaya hai!

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78 comments:

  1. Such an entertaining post, Saru. That printed brown velvet sofa! I was smiling throughout. :) The picture is apt for the post! One of my favourite shows. Maybe, it will be back with the second season.

    And, Black is my favourite color (umm...brown too :))

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    1. Yes, back as a web series.

      Thanks for reading, Tarang.

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  2. Your post brought back many of my childhood memories. I used to feel same compulsion to keep the 'sofa' clean and cushion in proper order.

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    1. Hi-Fi! I still harbor that compulsion.

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  3. ekdum mere dil ki baat likh daali ... We had Magenta colored, sofa ... about 17 years old now... so many memories and beautiful moments :) So true, the sofa was only for special people and special sofa covers were taken out only if the guest was super duper special :P

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    1. Hahahaha... We were certified middle class.

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  4. The beauty of sofa in those days reminds us that we should never forget our middle class values. It was a luxury in those days:)

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  5. That was a trip down the memory lane, Saru:)

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  6. Such a sweet and heartfelt post, Saru :). I am amazed at your recollection of small anecdotes to be woven into a story :). And yes, till date, I dont know how a couch is different than a sofa!!

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    1. Same here. BTW, even I am amazed, I remember so much and in so much detail.

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  7. This was simply brilliant Saru...had me in splits! Itne me toh mithai aa jayegi...golden words! Jaane kahan gaye woh din aur woh sofay!

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    1. Sach mein! Thank you so much for reading, Kala.

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  8. Another superb one from your Saru....sofa kya, aajkal to duniya bhar ke naam hain....Just yesterday a friend of mine who is looking for living room furniture....matlab drawing room ka sofa....said she liked a chaise lounge she saw....and dumb me asked....yeh kaunse type ka sofa hain.....:)...sofa to sofa hi mere ghar main....koi use sectional kahe ya couch kahe....:D....

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    Replies
    1. Seriously, I stick to sofa. The variety is so confusing. Though, there is one I love - Tufted Chesterton.

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  9. Haha post is so middle class that i felt like home! :)

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  10. Could relate to this a lot!We still have an old sofa @ mom's place.Brought back lots of memories.

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  11. hahah! this cracked me up but this post is very relate-able. Loved it :)

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  12. It was so beautiful! During my childhood, we had a two seater sofa, which my mom bought from a neighbor, who upgraded theirs. It was there till I passed my 10th. True to your analysis, it was black in color. When we regretfully replaced it with a newer version, it still graced the passage outside our one room home for months, providing a resting place for strangers. Then, one Holi we burned it, along with the imbued indelible stains, bugs and memories!

    Whoever says that inanimate doesn't induce emotions? I love such beautiful posts of yours, Saru!

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    Replies
    1. No, objects add dimension to memories. Love letters, a withered rose folded neatly in a book, matinee tickets stowed in a drawer - all objects that we hold for the memories attached to them.

      Thanks for a beautiful comment, Rakesh. It makes my day! :)

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  13. Just like middle class loves to maintain precious things and values, I prefer my sofa to couch! When I was young, we upgraded our sofa on my birthday. Next day, when my friends asked me "Birthday pe kya gift mile?" I proudly said, "Naya sofaaaa!" By the way, Ambala mean flood bhi ayi theee?

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    1. Achcha aur bada gift tha ๐Ÿ˜

      Ambala was flooded many times. I was there in 2010.

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  14. Lol, Kyunki Couch Bhi Kabhie Sofa Tha. I remember all the fabrics, designs and shades of our sofas. Yes, sofa so good.

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    Replies
    1. Good old days, Alka. We took pride in everything we owned. There were no pretense.

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  15. I used to despise our sofa, it was wooden one with cusion seats ( a 3+1+1) which could be flipped, but it gave us so many memories especially when I used it as a spare bed whenever guests stayed for the night. Thanks for such a lovely read Basanti. ����

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    Replies
    1. It was more than a sofa. It was an integral part of our lives.

      Thanks for reading.

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  16. Such a sweet post, I was all smiles while reading it. Btw my Parents also still have that kind of sofa in magenta with all the threads and stuff coming out of it, which my mother cleverly hides under covers and cushions. The rats have already eaten up 50% of the foam inside it. But I don't think she's gonna change it soon as she has many other plans with high priority. ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

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    1. Ah, mothers are clever and smart. They know how to prioritize. ❤

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  17. This was a fun read and made me nostalgic. My mum is still obsessed with her latest designed sofa and does not let anyone mess with it.

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    1. She is like me. I take care of everything in my home to the extent of obsession. Thanks for reading, Manjulika ☺

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  18. Hahaha! I love the way you narrate simple things in such an entertaining way. A great read like always Saru!:)

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  19. Loved the post Saru ❤❤❤
    Rashmi.

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    1. Thanks and welcome here, Rashmi. ๐Ÿ˜˜

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  20. mai to abhi bhi sofe ko sofa hi bolti hu :)
    That Ratna pathak pic is so apt...Once a middle class always a middle class hu mai to

    Mast post hai Saru

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  21. This is brilliant Saru! Reminds me of the maroon velvet sofa at my maiden home, which is still breathing fine. I was the only one allowed to dust it being a good girl. I remember how pathetic it felt when my clumsy 'mausaji' used to squat over it. Aah! You have aroused beautiful memories of every middle class woman. :)

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    1. I know the feeling - hard work going down the drain. I puffed the cushions as soon as guests stepped out. We were crazy in our own ways. Thanks for a lovely comment, Sangeeta ❤

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  22. Ha ha..Sofa tales, popular in every Indian household. I remember How my Brother used to jump on it and spoiled the freshly creased Sofa covers. I used to call him "Gao-vala" on this. Nice post Saru.

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    1. Ouch, that hurts. Brothers can create a lot of nuisance but this is out of limits. Kidding!
      Thanks for reading dear!

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  23. This reminds me a middle class person always remains middle class. Hamara to ab bhi sofa hi hai. Couch bolenge to lagega kisi aur hi-fi ke ghar main hain. The transition from a rexine sofa to the velvet sofa brought back olden day memories. My parents started with laksi wala gaddiyon wala sofa, the covers of which were taken off and washed once a month. After 10 years of keeping that sofa new with the act of changing the covers every 3 years, we got to claim our dulhano wala velvet sofa. Ab 90s main wahi fashion main raha hoga. Well my parents changed their sofa but never could their middle class habit. Our old velvet sofa received 3 makeovers with complete velvet change and tightening the nails here and there in the last 23 years. It is antic now.

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  24. Ha ha this was funny. First, I love Maya Sarabhai and I can so imagine her saying that line. I never did pass the sofa dusting test. No matter how well I dusted it my mum would always find the one spot I had left out. We still have a sofa though. Time to graduate to a couch maybe - or maybe I'll also wait till 'mere bete ki shaadi' :-).

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  25. Ha ha.. very interesting recap of the 'sofa' indeed ! And i am sure that it resonates with so many of us :)

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  26. I remember putting a blade wound across the rexin. And of course, finding long lost pencils in deepest recesses

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    1. Saru excellent write up, refreshing the memories.

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    2. @Sweety - That's daring! You had action during your growing up years.

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    3. @Vijay - Thank you so much, sir!

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  27. loved it, still I refer as sofa :P

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  28. Ha ha:) What an amazingly amusing piece this:)
    (not of the sofa so far):D

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  29. Now that is an interesting insight. I don't recall these transitions but well, if it were, it is really funny. So there is sofa, couch and now ? Recliners ? :P

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    1. Maybe. I would love to have a La-z-boy! Fantasy, sigh!

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  30. Hahaha...the aristocracy of sofas were great in those days :-D I can relate to your post so well... :-P

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  31. Loved it! Astonished to see such a beautiful post on a thing like sofa.Totally paisa wasool post! :) had me in splits, specially the 5 golden words "itne mein mithai aa jaayegi". :) :)

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    1. Truly honored with your comment. Thank you so much ❤

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  32. Lovely post! Went down the memory lane myself

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    1. Brush of good old days. Thanks for reading, Neha!

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  33. Very entertaining. I liked your depiction of a sofa in the beginning. Very well written like your other posts.

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    1. Thanks, Aardhana. I was not aware that you are my regular reader.

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  34. I thoroughly enjoyed this post of yours. So funny.

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