The balcony is the ultimate sweet spot in any house. It’s not entirely outside, it’s not entirely inside. It allows you to escape, for some time, the endurance or ennui of what’s within your home (if you, correspondingly, have several people or are alone, and the attendant consequences of that). At the same time, it provides you the space to not fully get into, engage with the outside world.
At a more romantic level, it’s perfect for a rainy day. You’re not fretting in office, agonising how to get back through that muck. You’re not in that muck, biding time (if you’re lucky to be in the comfort of a car) or braving torrent (if you’re not so lucky). You can either watch the clouds showering their benevolence on earth, or you can curl up with a pillow at your back, a book in your lap, and piping tea and pakodas by your side, treating the splish-splash as background music.
At a less romantic level, it allows you to be yourself yet be obscure from the others. You are free to scratch your nethers, or adjust them, with just a coy look here and there to ensure no one is out in their balcony too.
And then, one day, unable to see such happiness among house-owners, the builder lobby, along with their friends from some of the other industries, such as fittings and fixtures, decided to change all that. They met up, reached a consensus (with much bullying by the builders, no doubt), and resolved to no longer have cement/iron/wood balustrades for balconies, but those made of glass. They even coined a slogan, ‘Glass is Class, Rest is Crass’.
Sure, these look cooler and more contemporary, but it spelt the demise of all those joys described in the first three paras. It’s also perfectly understandable, I guess. In the era of social media, privacy is a dead thing in the balcony too.
But here’s something to make you feel better. The Bombayite (I too have been one until not long ago) reacts to this trend with a bemused shrug: “What balcony?”