Thursday, April 26, 2018

Adept at Layering of Cultures (Home Tour)

An elegantly edited Gurgaon home is a visual reminder of the homeowners' intrinsic love for diverse cultures and a life well lived. The Bondals have had the pleasure to travel and experience life in different countries as Jaishankar Bondal served as an Indian diplomat for 34 years. They've had the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy the sprawling homes that were bestowed upon them while in service but decided to downsize when retirement came knocking. Gleefully accepting a slower pace of life, Jaishankar and Nirmala (a professional singer and artist) moved to Gurgaon for apartment style living. More from Nirmala on transitioning from palatial bungalows to their current maintenance friendly and cozy home, "We came to live in our apartment, since July 2008, after my husband retired from Mauritius, as "The Indian High Commissioner". We owned this apartment a few years before coming to live here, so we were preparing in the last few years of my husband's career , to shrink from the big and beautiful houses, while my husband headed the missions in Canada, Tajikistan and Mauritius. Well, in all the years with our govt., serving as the proud representatives of our country, we both were very particular to showcase the best we have culturally. However with no preconceived strong likes and dislikes, we adapted very well to people, places and ideas. Always happy to imbibe all that was offered to us in a place that was home away from home.

With Chinese language and politics as Jaishankar's expertise, we naturally stayed the most in China with 7 years in Beijing and (3 more if you count Hong Kong).This rich culture with amazing artifacts was a big temptation to behold. We however never spent on very expensive objects,but had a keen eye for things which we would always enjoy. We always focused on getting light furniture with which we could play around and made it easy for the many moves. 
The entrance to the home is decked in aesthetic charm leading you to believe that the rest of the home is no different. A Shiv Parvati statue in the tribhanga posture (possibly modeled on the life sized originals in the caves at Kanheri, Mumbai) takes centerstage. Around the base, a grouping of traditional brass lamps from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and a "tree" lamp from Goa take the vingette to a whole new level. Placed above the pillar is a four headed Ganapati, the heads representing the four Vedas.
The instrument on the small accent table is from Tajikistan, in Central Asia. It traces its ancestry from Persia, now Iran. It is called dutar, a two string folk instrument and a precursor of Sarangi and the Sitar. By its side is a scale model of a medieval Japanese carriage (pulled by oxen rather than horses). Made of lacquer,it can be easily dissembled. Behind it is a miniature Japanese screen,painted in gold leaf traditional designs.
The bigger wooden chest was sold to Nirmala as a "cooling box". It serves perfectly to store all of Nirmala's table linen and useful dining paraphernalia. Nirmala reminiscenes saying that, "Exploring Chinese markets and unorganized, yet bustling bazaars, was a tremendous pleasure, as one unexpectedly came across mysterious and beautiful articles.Today,the Chinese landscape has become modern,but predictably dull!"
Lighting up this corner is a traditional bronze lamp with Chinese characters on the lampshade. This corner is also smattered with a collection of bronze objects - a Korean bell, the famous flying horse from the " Tang Dynasty" period, a "Chinte" lion from Burma[Myanmar] and the "Ding" a Chinese sacrificial vessel or urn on a tripod.
A contemporary looking display shelf from Sweden houses all of Nirmala's crystal glassware. The design lends presence without cluttering the space. To contrast the crystal ware, Nirmala has placed the miniature blue porcelain horses, made at a well known historical china ware factory with the "Jin De Zheng" designs. A pair of wooden monk statues originating from Burma reinforce the layering of cultures theme in the home. As a foil to all these is an elaborately constructed ,vividly colored Kathakali head from Kerala.
At the far end of the living room, what was once a good sized balcony is now enclosed and poses as an extension of the living room. This is where the couple enjoy their morning cup of tea in the company of plants. Nirmala has creatively used 2 vintage copper vessels - the big one as a centre table and the smaller one as a lamp. A Chinese cane basket holds reading material while a pretty patterned rug adds warmth to the floor.
A majestic China cabinet serves its purpose by holding Nirmala's collection of crockery. A copper Samovar (meant to keep tea hot) sits pretty on top of the cabinet along with a model of a war ship from Mauritius. The simple elegance of Vintage Ming Imperial-Style Chinese Chairs definitely adds the right amount of global edge to the living room. It is believed that these chairs are designed to provide relief and comfort to aching joints. The delicate collection of vases sporting the lotus design are antiques and sit pretty on the carved scroll table (the idea of  a scroll table being written scrolls used to be spread on top of such tables and used at the religious altar).
A beautiful cloisonne lamp (with busy patterns in enamel) lights up this corner, while a pair of Indonesian puppets engages the onlooker for some visual drama. Nirmala shares more about her decorating scheme, "With Delhi/ Gurgaon having hot summers and dusty winds, we do not indulge in heavy upholstery. We also enjoy playing around with our pieces, which refreshes us and breaks the monotony."   
The living room is mostly furnished with authentic asian inspired furniture like this mahogany opium bed. Behind it on the walls is a pair of lacquer wall hangings. The paintings have beautiful relief work that makes a strong design statement and complements the ongoing decorating scheme.
The pair of white and blue elephants was purchased by the couple in Hong Kong. With a glass top added to it, it currently serves as an accent table. At times, Nirmala has also used it to display her potted greens.
The dining room of the Bondals is slightly different as in it has Swedish furniture. On their posting in Sweden, the couple started admiring the straight lines and simple style of this style of practical furniture. The dining table with chairs in pine wood is a very stark change from the deep wood tones seen throughout the other parts of the home. The highlight of this space is the wall with masks! Mostly collected from the many places the Bondals have lived in or visited. Their vivid colors and variety draws everyone`s attention. Bondals children (now married) bring back souvenirs every now and then to add to their parents' collection of masks.
I hope you enjoyed this beautiful home tour that is a collage of diverse cultures. This home tour has been in the making for many months now. So glad it finally got to see the light of day! Thank you Bondals for letting us tour your lovely home and we wish you the very best! The one person who needs a special mention is Hemangini Hoskote. She not only introduced me to the Bondals but also took time off from her very busy schedule to shoot images for the home tour. I can't thank you enough Hemangini!!!

As for you my lovely people, I know how much you enjoy good home tours so am currently working on bringing you another one  all the way from Singapore. Stay tuned!

(Photo Credits: Hemangini Hoskote for TECD; Image Copyright: Nirmala Jaishankar Bondal. The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of  Nirmala Jaishankar Bondal & TECD.)

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