An Ode to Juniper

I am not singing the glory of the coniferous plant in the cypress family but an ode to the concrete kind made of brick-and-mortar and steel, twenty-eight storied, and one of the oddly angular buildings in Taikoo Shing. The building’s uniqueness is not just its angularity but also its close proximity to an office building. The angularity afforded very close view of everything around me. I was fortunate (?) to live in two different flats on two different floors on two different sides in Juniper. And it afforded two completely different views.

From one of the flats, I had the best box seat at a silent office opera day after day. When I had told the agent I could see just about everything in the office, he was nonchalant in his response – “Don’t look there. You have a beautiful sea view. You turn and look at the sea and the ships. Ignore the office side.” He was right. We had a beautiful sea view from every room. But I somehow seemed drawn to the human drama in the adjacent office.

I was privy to the office birthday cake cuttings, power point presentations, and the somber moments, the angry boss and the sulking employee, the scurrying around and the stillness. All of these were cumulated moments gathered from random watching while sipping tea from my vantage position on the sofa. I was particularly fascinated by the slender non descript girl who constantly moved around the filing cabinets. I never saw her sit and she always seemed to be at someone’s beck and call. I would miss her on days I did not see her. When lights went off, it felt like Curtain Call.

The other flat I lived in was on the 28th floor with a roof top. I could see a bit of the dragon’s back, a bit of the sea and majorly dominated by the menacing skyscrapers with bright neon hoardings on them. Nothing spectacular. Very Hong Kong.I could see a million windows that were all the same and flashes of humans seen through these winows. My only thought used to be – How small, how miniscule, how insignificant we are. Like animals in cages.

Almost every night I would go up to the terrace and look at the windows closest to me. Bright fluorescent lights would be on the entire time. The upper window and the lower window I called them. I could see two old ladies watching television. They would be relaxed on their respective sofas with their feet stretched out. Often the channels would be the same. The similarity of the scenario drew me to those windows every night. Were the two old ladies friends? Did they meet and discuss the programs they watched the night before? I was curious.

One night I went up as usual and there were no lights in the upper window. I wondered why. Nights went by and yet no lights. One day the lights did come up and there was a small boy watching television. But the show was different. Not the same as lower window.I found it disturbing. What happened to that old lady? Was she just visiting her son or daughter and had gone back to her home? Not knowing was unsettling. Somehow strangers seem to become familiar. Which is why I have been able to recall this after almost a decade.

Food for thought isn’t it? Please share your experiences/comments.

 

Nirmala Nagarajan

About the Author Nirmala Nagarajan

Nirmala is now an aspiring writer who has published three short stories. She is currently working on a novel. She has been a banker, and a teacher-librarian career-wise but mostly a student-for-life. She looks forward to her summer stint at Oxford University where she will be studying an advanced course in Creative Writing. She is married to Aga, otherwise known as Captain Nagarajan, and has a son Jai. She loves to travel and play scrabble.

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