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It's a new year and a new dawn and I can't help breaking into a song. Okay. I'll stop right here. The truth is even though I look at 2017 with a lot of hope and foolishly-optimistic vacant eyes, I also find myself at the end of the road that's been my home. Yes, it's most definitely moving time for us and bidding adieu to a house that was so much more than just brick and walls.
Moving day for me is the biggest and baddest of beasts. But it is long due, slowly building up in the form of ugly clouds of seepage on the ceiling in various places. The grim clouds of peeling cement loom over us as if hissing "It's time to let go." And in case I forgot to look up and cringe at the horror of it all, I am showered with some rather ill-timed concrete droppings on my freshly-shampooed hair every now and then.
In my present home, there is one thing I took great comfort in and that I think is most important in a house, among all the memories you may build in it. It is the sunlight and the lovely cross-ventilation that makes you feel you're standing on top of a cliff. I could be sitting cross-legged on the floor cushion for hours with the perfume of lavender incense sticks blowing my way as I watched my daughter Saanvi play with her wooden abacus in her room from a distance. My home, a messy clutter of a space, has a clean sort of aura, the kind that'd have plants grow into lush-green thickets. (I never put that theory to test though.)
The aura of a home is very important. Just like your body, your home harbors all the negative and positive emotions that you go through in a lifetime - your anxieties about the future, your dwellings in the past, your infatuations, your heartbreak, grief, loss, birth, happiness...
Here's an example of how I know this to be true. When my daughter was just four-months old, we visited a lot of our family. And while in some homes, she settled down immediately, rolling on the floor and reveling in the joy of discovering a new space, in others, she wailed uncontrollably. For no reason at all. One such house that gave her traumatizing nights was unfortunately my own maiden home. It is a house that I lived in for a good part of my life. And even though Saanvi is almost five years now, she still has trouble sleeping when we visit my home. Thanks to this spooky anomaly, I can't sleep in what used to be my own room any more.
Why is that so you may wonder? Is it haunted? I've been wondering that myself. But rationally speaking, one contributing factor is that even though my maiden home is much roomier than my home in Mumbai, it lets in very little air and sunlight. And that is a huge issue as far as I can tell. A house that is not properly-ventilated and dingy is a breeding ground for germs and diseases. I didn't think about this when I lived there. I had little to suspect that my home could have affected my health and aggravated any allergies I had. And it is surprising to me that while I may have lived in that house for long, and I do remember falling sick quite often, I never once attributed my sudden allergies to being indoors. It was always, "Oh, it's the change in weather" or "Oh, it's just stress from working too long".
One thing that we tend to overlook in our everyday life is the indoor air quality of our houses. As practitioners of Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra or any other home-cleansing philosophies would emphasize, indoor air is a big part of a house's aura and it has serious repercussions on a person's mental health and physical well-being.
What are the odds of a house having good vibes? You may be sitting in a new house, a restaurant, or in a mall with no idea what went on there. And how would it matter anyway? What would matter, however, is how much you are exposed to indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke, radon, fine particles, carbon monoxide and other Volatile Organic Compounds. It SHOULD matter since they can cause anything from headaches and asthma to elevated stress, high BP and cardio-vascular diseases. They can affect your hearing, your vision, your moods, and your intelligence. Recently, there has been a study that talks about how exposure to formaldehyde, found in scented candles and floor cleaners, is one of the top triggers of body rash, watery eyes, wheezing and sinus issues.
Over my research and personal experience, I've found that while Vastu Shastra or Feng Shui may not always be economically viable options, there are easy ways to cleanse your homes and combat indoor air pollution:
Ventilation: Let the fresh morning air in, especially when cleaning is in progress. Fresh air is the only thing that can drive out indoor air pollutants.
De-humidification: Humidity in a home should be less than 50 percent. So use vents, fans and dry your clothes outside. Humidity gives rise to mold, a leading trigger of lung infections and asthma.
House plants: A few common indoor plants are known to reduce toxic agents naturally from air. Spider plants, Aloe Vera, Snake Plants and bright flowers such as Gerbera daisy all help in cleansing your home off formaldehyde, Benzene and carbon monoxide pollution.
Vacuuming: Vacuum regularly, wash and change your bed sheets at least once a week and wipe out cobwebs and dust mites from the corners.
Invest in an air purifier: Air purifiers seem like a popular choice in highly-polluted cities where natural air itself becomes a threat. While indoor plants do help to control indoor air pollution, there is no evidence that they can combat significant levels of gaseous pollution. Air purifiers are tested to help in cleaning indoor air by filtering out fine particles such as dust and pollen, gaseous pollutants and odours.
Clear pet litters frequently: They contribute to E.Coli bacteria in a home and hence are the biggest allergy triggers. Pet litters or bird droppings if you stay in a high-rise apartment should be cleared everyday.
With moving day coming closer, I'm going to find a way of ensuring and enforcing good vibes in my next home using these simple guidelines. Good vibes begin from good breathing.