Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The making of my cosy little nest

Unlike today where working youngsters in their twenties easily get loans and buy a readily made house, we know it was difficult to build a home in olden days.  Infact,  there is a saying  in my mother tongue “ Veetai katti paar, kalyanam panni paar”.  It translates to “Build a house and see, conduct  a marriage and see”.  The amount of challenges one faces while conducting a wedding and building a house is what it  proverbially states.  

Long long ago, Salaried class people who had no easy access to bank loans and hiring building  contractors had to face lot of difficulties while building a house.  My husband’s grand parents house in Lalgudi  near Trichy was built with a few  such challenges.  They did’nt compromise on quality but they did save costs. To save costs,  it seems even grandma used to pitch in with the work along with laborers. Sometimes the laborers would fight with the contractor and refuse to work and then patti and thatha would try to play the mediators so that their house could be built on time.   The best wood(pillai marudhu)  for making doors was brought specially from across the border Kerala.  The members of the family would pitch in to paint the house. No branded paints those days. They used to buy the boiled seashell pieces  which was available in the shops. The boiled seashells when immersed in water would bubble up and become lime pulp. This would then be mixed with the “blue” used for whitening clothes and painted on the walls by the family members.  Limestones were also available but these seashells my mother-in-law says imparted a sheen to the walls. I have  spent my vacations in this beautiful house called “Madhurambika Ashram”. It had a huge frontyard where creepers of jasmine arched the entrance. There was a lemon tree which yielded golf ball size lemons in one corner, while the other corner had a parijatha(coral jasmine) tree.

The entrance to the home was through a grilled verandah. The grills were held by  plastered walls which were painted with lime and redclay alternatively like in temples. What would arrest one’s attention would be the shining walls of the home where sepia toned photos of the family lined on the walls.  The shine and the whiteness would ofcourse be the courtesy of those seashells.

The backyard with a well, washing stone slab,  grinding stones, tulsi brindavan, swaying coconut,mango, tangerine trees  and kitchen plants completed the picture.  A simple, warm home sans frills. But patti, would often say that the smiles, chatters,  and laughter (galagalappu) of her children and grandchildren are what made it a happy home.


That was patti-thatha's home(grandparents). Now read, the making of my present home. I don't want to miss any detail, so a very long post by my standards but i would appreciate if you read till the end.

I and my husband wanted to create  a happy home like patti.  An independent home with a beautiful ornamental garden in the front and a useful kitchen garden at the back. But, we were people who were on the move. Investing in an independent house  in a new city and then moving away would invite troubles like maintenance of the house, renting out etc., We already face one such situation in Bangalore. 
  
Around that time, most of my husband’s colleagues  decided to invest in an apartment complex. We too went with them but my husband was not happy with the construction. He wanted a home without common walls, a house that is spacious, airy and had lot of bright light. He did not want corridors which were similar to hospitals or hotels. In short,  he was not happy with the construction of flats too which were built with hollow blocks and not bricks. Independent villas in gated communities were not to our budget.

 Having lived in a township at Neyveli in a duplex house which were airy and naturally lit and had huge front and backyards, My husband found it difficult to think of such flats as home. Even for me although, I did not live in airy and spacious houses, I have lived in independent houses.  In Bangalore, most houses were built on BDA property which came in the dimension of 30x50 feet.
 
Apartments were not our liking and so we dropped the idea and lived in an independent rented home in an enclave built by employees of an international research institute which had a lovely play area. A very lovely enclave but not lively I must say, because most of our neighbours were retired employees of that institute and though we had company in other tenants, we were at the mercy of our landlords who did not like the children running and playing. They would scare the children saying there are snakes and would always hush the children or take away the ball.

Meanwhile another set of friends went to buy apartments. So another opportunity came our way and this time my husband liked the second phase of the same builder. We saw the plan and screened the  houses that were not booked.  My husband studied the plan to see which house was airy and bright. The way he was studying the plan and dismissing the flats  annoyed me.  What was acceptable for me was not acceptable for him and vice versa. Finally, we came to a consensus and  blocked the flat on the 5th floor which was still not built, but  in the air.  And, I must say, I am happy with his choice today. This is one of the premium flat of our complex, airy on all three sides  which are open to the space above the gazebo, amphitheatre and the main road. The 4th side is our neighboring flat which is a good 10 feet away with no common walls. No  common corridor, we walk from the lift to my home which has an independent feel. Today we are happy to have made apartment as choice, because in the past 8 years, there is a lot my children and we have learnt from this joint family called condominium.

Although this apartment was built by the builder,  To turn it into our home, it had our personal touch.  We were there from day one to supervise and inspect our house. Initially every 15 days, then every once a week, and finally it narrowed to almost daily when it got its finishing touches. We did make some design changes in the structure of the house which had the approval of the builder.

We were happy with the construction materials used for the house.  We were equally happy with the extra fittings, though I changed some of the fittings to add our personal style.  Wood work was left to our choice. Like our grand mom’s home we wanted the best and we were ready to cut the cost of the middle men by sourcing it ourself. We did a lot of study on this during the nights to find the right type of wood, the veneer, polish , hardware, the design etc., Finally, we entrusted the job to one of the   Rajasthan carpenters who were rustic but the best. It is already 8 years and I am yet to find a nail out of place, while our friends who went with MDF have had multilple repairs and refurnishes.  For tiles, although the builder provided good quality ones, I wanted  to have some signature spaces and so we traveled to Troop bazaar, sultan bazaar  and other places in old Hyderabad which is famous for tiles, awnings and bathroom fittings.

There was another thing that I did not change that is the painting. We were happy with the ivory color emulsion of Asian paints Home solutions  used for the interiors of the house.  I did’nt want textured walls simply because this is a dry city and dust would fill in the crevices and it would be tough to dust out.  The simple ivory color  makes the house elegant and rich.  We can always accentuate the walls with colors.  Even their buckets which holds the Asian paints are sturdy and stronger than the regular washroom buckets.

For knick knacks, we have mostly bought earthy artefacts from artisans which are warm fillers for the home. We invested on some lightings too which did not need periodical change. It is more than 8 years and I hav’nt changed the wood work, the fittings not even painted my home again. The Asian paints work is still the same after 8 years and the walls have never required a new coat. The buildup of minor grimes due to daily use and the chocolate finger prints of my son have been erased with a simple shampoo soaked sponge. Just an year back, to add some drama, I have used wall paper on one of the walls of the drawing room . The simple cotton blinds and sheers also often change adding color and variety to the home.

But do material things make up a home?


If ever I move out of this home, i will not remember those material things, but like patti said, the precious growing years of my children, the little spicy fights, the togetherness, smiles, chatter, the voices that echoed around the house when we had the family reunions with relatives, the warm conversations over a cup of chai with our friends in our drawing room, The painful partings when they leave. The corner that was alloted for the PC from where i blog,Not the sheer curtains that allows sunlight but the reflection of the dust rays, the gentle cool breeze from the lake behind , the  balcony from where i see the moon, birds flying in a pattern, that little birdie making its nest. I will remember the comfort, solace and serenity that this home gave me. All these are the heart and soul of a home and convert  a brick house into a cosy home. 



This kitchen where we cook our daily rice, rasam, daal, roti. the platform where we wash with sudsy water and the floor where we sit down to eat our brunch or our daily meal will go down us a memorable place one day.

The drawing room (forefront) which witnesses many reunions and partings. The beauty wall divides the space. At the back the dining hall which opens into our back balcony, to give me a view of the shining moon, watch the children play in the ground , the clean blue swimming pool, the amphitheatre, a glimpse of the lake which is named after the lake of Shiva's abode.  So many memories made and are in the making...........

The wardrobe designed by my children when they were just 9 and 7. They went through many manuals to narrow on this design. The precision wavy cuts done by our carpenter babulal and Kishan are all hand made. There is no machine cutting. This wardrobe too stores many of my children's treasures. In the top shelf is their childhood memories in the form of scrap books, report cards, selected old clothes.

Yet again, our children's choice of wall painting for which we sought professional help. A double decker bed which was designed by my husband and executed by the efficient carpenters. A space saver, the bed under has castor wheels. But more than all that,we are grateful,  the bedrooms gently put us to sleep each night and takes care of us as we sleep soundly.

The corner where we showcase some of India's artisans. The earthy and handmade  artefacts are warm fillers of my home against the backdrop of Asian paint emulsion.

The front balcony frames the historical Gunrock and the sunrise which I enjoy with a cup of chai and the birds flying out of the greenery around. 

My little ornamental  and herbal garden in the front, not as big as patti's home but gives me immense joy when a small bud flowers or a leaf sprouts from a plant which i give up as dead. It adds to the micro joys of our life. 

A multi colored rose which changes its shade from pink to yellow blooms in this little garden along with many little flowers which we offer to God. 


Again, not a big kitchen garden, but we have made niches like these in our back balcony, where we harvest potful of joy in the form of methi, coriander, curry leaf, haldi,mint etc.,


This post is written for "The beautiful home blogger contest"  @Women's Web in association with Asian paints and ripple links

16 comments:

  1. Wow, such a beautiful house! Its grandeur is very eye catching. The wardrobe in the children's room is majestic. The over all effect is that of splendour. It must be a pleasure to live in such a grand 'nest'( as you call it) Wish you all the best for the contest.

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    1. Thank you, Ma'am for those grand words:)

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  2. Agree with that saying, building a house is truly challenging and making it a home is equally beautiful. Love your home and its decor, the personal touch you have given to it! Looks so warm and inviting!
    Good luck for the contest, Asha :)

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    1. Thank you Shilpa :) glad you found it warm and inviting.

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  3. It is a real challenge to build a home from the scratch. In those days, banks did not give home loans. So when people built their homes, they were almost about to retire. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos. Your home looks very beautiful.

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    1. Yes, our grand pa too stayed in railway quarters all through their life and finally with the retirement money they built the home.

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  4. Builing a house is a very difficult job and then making it a home is equally challenging but satisfying ..you home is so beautiful..
    Good luck for the contest!

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    1. and it is more satisying to live in such self-designed homes. Thank you, Renu:)

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  5. Wonderful home by all standards, but even more, wonderful people inhabit this home. May it always bring you and your loved ones much happiness.

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    1. Thank you, Ramesh for those kind words:)

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  6. I am in love with your home. So much love has gone into the bricks and cement. Wonderful post.

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    1. Thank you, Parama for the love and visit:)

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  7. Absolutely beautiful home. The pictures speak for themselves.
    Congratulations, for building such a beautiful apartment with materials sourced out independently.

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    1. Thank you, Rama:) Glad you found them beautiful.

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  8. Like the way the kids have designed their own rooms. Very spacious too. Agree with you about how difficult it was earlier to buy a house.

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    1. Thank you, Haddock:) Glad you liked their design.

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