Skip to main content

Wall to Wall

Wall to Wall
Walls are often misunderstood. Take the erstwhile Berlin Wall that was ultimately broken down or the American ‘Trump Wall’ which may or may not be built. The long and mighty China Wall was built to keep the enemy out. Whether you like it or not, you cannot ignore a wall.

The walls at Second Chance House remind me of a cave. They are really thick. In fact, each wall is a foot and a half thick! Made in a special masonry style (now a lost art), it is made only of small and large stones which are put together in a special way. No cement has been used. How does it stand? I don’t know, but it sure has been able to stand the test of time for more than a century.

We are from Calcutta, the land of monkey caps and feeling cold at 20 degrees Celsius. These walls know of our predicament and protect us from the cold winds and the temperature drop. They remind me of the surrounding Himalayas as they keep out the moist clouds that collide against them and are reduced to water. The now warmer summers are also kept at bay once you are deep within its embrace. Thus, these walls fulfil the most elementary function of being walls – they protect you from the elements of nature.

Their bumpy and rough texture is a reminder of the fabric of life…..some ups, some downs and a lot of effort to keep it all together. Like an old woman’s gnarled hands which has so many experiences embedded in them, the walls speak to you if you have the patience to listen.

The serene quiet of the wall is in direct contrast to its partner – the tin roof. The roof gets all het up and noisy and keeps reminding everyone of its important existence, but the walls absorb earthquakes with a stoic shuddering silence.

Although they never say it out loud, the truth is walls like to be well-dressed. Ten years old or a hundred years old, no one wants to look old. When we met the walls of Second Chance House in 2020, they were in tatters and quite depressed. A hobo banyan tree had taken advantage and drilled roots through the chimney. Many other insects and pests had pushed their way into its cracks and were eating away its strength.

A little cajoling, a lot of mending of the tears and holes, gallons of fresh, smart, lively paint, some music and lots of laughter pulled these walls out of their dark dreariness. After all, it is a second chance for everyone!

However, these walls are not watertight compartments, nor are they rigid and narrow-minded. They have spaces and gaps in the form of chimneys. They hear things and whisper things. They agree and disagree with you. To physically walk out, you need a door, but your spirit can apparate very easily through these walls.

Sipping my evening cup of Dorje Tea, I sit outside the walls of Second Chance House, Pradip (the Sardaar) and I decide we need to plant some pretty, private ivy to cover one side of the walls to keep the mystery intact.

Write to me at


Be the first to comment.