When Manavi told Aditya Ghosh that she would marry him, she had no idea that she would have to spend the next few years fighting to see. The bespectacled new mother, with minus six vision, needs bright light to see clearly, let alone read.
“I hate yellow lights,” says the 30-year-old.
Aditya, 34, the head counsel for the travel and technology company, InterGlobe, prefers yellow lights that create a lounge atmosphere. “I can’t stand white lights!” he exclaims.
Seven years on in the marriage, the War of the Light Switches continues to rage.
But what sane person asks what type of lighting you prefer when you’re dating?
“When a couple starts planning a home, most of the time, one does not appreciate the other person’s point of view. People have very specific ideas about what they want in their living spaces,” says Ajay Batra, a Delhi-based interior designer.
As the median age for marriage keeps rising, more people are moving into their first home with their future spouse, lugging along their own furniture and their own set of style preferences.
Karan Anshuman, 26, and his wife, Anuradha Sharma, 24, managed to meld their styles more or less seamlessly since they had a year before marriage to decide on furniture. But Karan’s electronic collection became a point of contention. As a film writer and director, Karan admits to being “a little anal about [his] electronics and gadgets” and insisted that one room be under his domain. The couple were married recently and Karan says his wife is still a little upset about the room. “But she can watch movies in there any time!” he protests.
Devika Mahadevan, 29, the director of a non-governmental organization, had no problem letting her husband take control of the design of their new house, as Kapil Gupta, 33, is an architect and “has a million more ideas about style”. Still, at first, she worried that his love of minimalism would overrun her bohemian flair, especially when it came to colour. When she voiced her concerns, he immediately included colour in the plan, like the red flooring in the kitchen and a green bathroom.
Now she wouldn’t change a thing: “I was nervous about some things, but it all turned out looking so fabulous, I finally learned to just keep my mouth shut.”
However, marrying your individual styles may not be enough, especially if you plan to live in a joint family. Batra recalls the case of a couple who hired him to do their home. The young couple had lived abroad and had a forward-thinking design aesthetic. When they returned to live with the husband’s family in India, the parents baulked at some of the design changes the duo wanted.
The practicality vs aesthetics debate raged until Batra came up with a compromise: The parents kept the rest of the home as they wanted it, but the children could make over the second floor to their desired specifics. The solution worked well.
The Ghoshs were also bowled a googly the one time they thought they had finally found a way to end the War of the Light Switches. Floor-to-ceiling windows installed on the ground floor would provide the natural sunlight Manavi needed to read the morning paper without compromising Aditya’s ban on white lights. The perfect solution. Except Aditya’s parents were not pleased with the prospect of huge, unprotected windows, especially in a new home in a new colony in Gurgaon.
“They said, ‘At least give us some sense of security’,” Manavi recalls. But, to Aditya, the grills would ruin a key aesthetic element: allowing the front rooms to merge seamlessly with the outside garden.
“He didn’t want any grills at all. In the end, we put them up, but they’re as thin and as far apart as possible.”
The parents eventually came around. “At some point you have to stop arguing. If it looks good, in the end, the argument dies its own death in any case,” says Manavi.