“When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see.”

I first came across this quote in a post from Humans of New York, the world-famous project run by Brandon Stanton, who stops New Yorkers on the street and asks them about their lives – gathering fascinating stories from people we might just walk by without looking twice. For this post, he photographed a woman with this quote by Don DeLillo tattooed on her back.

For a bird to look into a home, it would have to peep through the window.

Windows are intriguing structures- they occupy the liminal space between the indoors and the outdoors. Yet, they’re neither here nor there, revelling in their eternal in-betweenness, lingering at the precipice of exposure and concealment.

Historically, human beings have always loved to sit by the window (look at the sheer number of iconic paintings with figures at windows). But pandemic-induced confinement has made us even more appreciative of windows, I think. We looked onto the impossible worlds outside.

Why am I waxing poetic about windows, you might ask. Well, the truth is, windows have always lured me. I have been lucky enough to live in houses or apartments where the views have kept me tied to the window-sill for hours at a stretch, especially during the pandemic, when I moved eleven times across four countries.

In Krems, Austria, I lived in a tiny room in an attic where the window was on the roof. The window opened to the sky, and the horizons were lined with vineyards. I may have written a few too many poems about this view. I would stand on my toes to gaze at the purple-orange bruises the sun left on the sky when it set, overlooking the Danube river.

In Aalborg, Denmark, I had a huge window overlooking a four-way street crossing. In the summer, I would sit with my legs out the window sill (not the safest thing to do, I’ll admit), and cloud watch until the sun set around 11 pm. These windows were my lifelines, particularly on the days I missed home.

WindowSwap is a website you can visit to “look through someone else’s window, somewhere in the world”. Every time you refresh the page, you’re taken to a different window – maybe in Pune, India, Amalfi, Italy or Curitiba, Brazil. Anyone from anywhere can upload 10-minute-long videos of the view from their window. Go take a look. Maybe upload your own impossible world outside.


P.S. This is a window of opportunity for you to get into your friends’ good books by recommending Just One Thing to them. What’s stopping you?