Revelling in the charm of Autumn

Updated: Oct 25, 2019, 07:30 IST | Rosalyn D'mello | Mumbai

A break from solitary housework and witnessing a shift in seasons in a vineyard-strewn Italian province yield a plenitude of grace

At Winegassl, an autumn celebration in Sudtirol, Italy, you get to witness musical line-ups, quite literally, as you walk through a lane that welcomes you with musical acts. Pic/Rosalyn D'mello
At Winegassl, an autumn celebration in Sudtirol, Italy, you get to witness musical line-ups, quite literally, as you walk through a lane that welcomes you with musical acts. Pic/Rosalyn D'mello

Rosalyn D'melloSince we'd been homebodies all of Sunday, my partner suggested we go for an evening walk. It was around 5pm, there was still light outside. We exited the apartment through the doorway that leads to the courtyard of the J. Höfstatter winery. He led me up the short flight of stairs that connect to the office, past the two lemon trees. Within seconds, we were trailing through vineyards, stopping occasionally to pick and snack on the salmon-hued remnants of this year's Gewürztraminer harvest. There was a light wind that would cause the trees to sway, showering the ground with their dried yellow, red, and golden leaves. Even the vines had turned from ripe green to yellow. Autumn was well underway. In the region of Sudtirol, Italy, this season is synonymous with celebration. Even though certain varieties of grape and apple are yet to be harvested, the bulk of this year's labour has been accounted for.

We'd spent the previous evening at Winegassl, an autumn celebration that takes place along a tiny street in Tramin. You pay a deposit of five euros for a wine glass, and pay as little as three to four euros to sample wines from local producers, including the Tramin co-operative's winery. There was a musical line-up, quite literally, as we walked through the lane (gassl) we encountered a range of musical acts, from folk to contemporary. The celebrations continued until midnight. This is also the season for a dining ritual unique to the region, called Törgellen. You are meant to hike your way to a specific kind of restaurant to enjoy a specific spread consisting of meats, sausages, sauerkraut, and finally, roasted chestnuts with butter.

On Sunday evening, as we walked past the vineyards into the woods and continued further uphill, I felt suddenly astonished by where I was and couldn't entirely fathom how I'd got there. I have many such moments during the day when the circumstances I'm in feel so dreamlike I wonder if I'm living someone else's life. I wouldn't at all have described my life before I met my partner as unhappy. Not in the least. In some sense or the other, my life has always been charmed. Through my feminist friendships, I've accessed so many experiences that I could never have conceived of given my limited resources; how little I earn in contrast to how my lifestyle appears. My present reality, the prospect of a life in Tramin is almost incidental, in that, it was not something I planned for, but a possibility that has arisen purely because I happened to fall in love with a man I think of as exceptional. Was it luck, or do I indeed deserve all the happiness I'm suddenly confronted with?

When I arrived here on October 3, my partner had already stationed a writing desk for me. This time not in our room, but in his sister's old room. It is possibly the best workstation I've ever had access to. I don't inhabit it in the way I do my desk in my bedroom back in Delhi; which is beside my printer and bookshelves and is also nestled in front of a window. I don't have things taped to the walls or don't even have all the books I'm always referring to, including my own diaries. It is a sparse space, with one lamp, with a ledge between the desk and the window, underneath which is a heater. But behind me is a large room with a piano, a sofa-cum bed, a sofa, and it's bigger than my room, and I inhabit this room with my presence, and I close the door and experience my solitude.

After 10 years of living alone, for the first time, my day is not interrupted by morning chores that involve me having to get up to open the door for the maid, to put the garbage out, or to deal with neighbours. My partner wakes up at 6am and brings me coffee in bed by 7.30am before he leaves for the fields. By 8am, I go to the kitchen and listen to a podcast as I eat breakfast — either poached eggs with fresh bread or with home-made jams or honey. Then I shut myself off the room I'm in right now and I work. Rarely am I asked to cook lunch or even dinner. I just get called in by either one of his parents who has made arrangements.

What I'm trying to say is that it is a luxury to live in a household where there is great equality and everyone contributes from a space of love and respect and not obligation or duty. My own home in Kurla, Mumbai was never gendered in terms of who was expected to do what. My parents were equal partners. I never imagined I'd find a living arrangement that mirrored that. Virginia Woolf said a woman needed some money and a room of her own to write. I've had that for years, and cannot emphasise enough how liberating it is. But for the first time in my life, I feel like I have the privilege of uninterrupted time, even between my many assignments. To have money and a room is vital, essential. But to have time and peace of mind, that's the greatest, most humbling form of luxury.

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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