Driving through the chaotic traffic of Allahabad- you come to the locality of Civil Lines-and enter through a red painted gate into a haven of greenery and quiet. The old-style red gate, the moss covered drive lined with old trees and then the low, creeper laden white washed bungalow are all indicative of the graciousness that lies within.
My sister’s friend, Vandana, better known by her pet name, Munmun (most self-respecting Indians have pet names and are known mainly by these !) greets us warmly at her front facing verandah. I love verandahs, especially those with floors such as this one. They are of highly polished concrete with marble chips. We call them ‘mosaic’floors. These were put into most Indian homes from the 1950’s.
To tell you the truth, I am having a whale of a time doing what I have ALWAYS wanted to do–explore home interiors ! And now I have an excuse- I write this blog !
As we sit on beautiful, woven cane-backed chairs, Munmun’s husband, Ladlie Tandon joins us. He is of slight build and is soft spoken. His dignity and humility are expressions of his refined and cultured background.
This house had been acquired by his great grandfather, a zamindar, looked after by his grandfather-owner of many estates and Member of the Legislative council in Lucknow and lived in by his father- a well known lawyer of the High Court at Allahabad.
Ladlie and Munmum moved into this house in 1994 upon the death of his father. He resigned from his post as a senior executive in Tata Steel Company(who, by the way, according to him, are one of the finest employers anyone can have!) to return to look after his ageing mother and house. Wonder how many would do this sort of thing today ?
The house- you have guessed it- has grown to be old. 150 years old !
The structure remains the same except that the terracotta tiled roof has been replaced with a flat concrete roof, mosaic floors added, wiring concealed and the verandahs on all four sides of the house have been enclosed. It remains honest to its origins and therefore more beautiful!
The verandah opens into two rooms in the middle–an enormous drawing room and a large dining room. And it opens on either side into a study on the left and a bedroom on the right.These two rooms continue into two or three rooms each on either side of the house-opening into verandahs-what sense of space!
Many pieces of the furniture are high quality antiques as are the bric a brac placed around with love and care. The vintage of most things is not too clear to their owners except that they are very old ! But with any guesses, I suppose they would be between 100 to 150 years old.
On another wall, embossed green porcelain plates, again, acquired possibly by their grandfather-
When I mentioned that I like crystal/glass only in the form of decanters(see my tablescape with decanters by clicking here), Munmun led me to a side board with beautiful old crystal decanters (Waterford ?). This was only a preview because they have many more inside their cupboards !
What a joy this was-to see beauty and dignity-and to see the care taken of an old, old home ! It is, after all, like taking care of a beloved parent !
I realize that this home, like some others in Allahabad that still remain, is actually part of the collective heritage of India! Wish it would be declared as such !
Thank you so much Munmun ji and Bhai sahab for sharing !
Do let me know what YOU think.
Hope you have a wonderful week ahead !