Classic Collection

Beautiful Homes

Classic Collection

Eclectic : The Kulkarni home has a mix of rare artefacts collected from across the world. Photo by Aruna Chandaraju

It is a collector’s home all the way. Anasuya and her husband N R Kulkarni collect musical instruments, shoes, music records, and unusual handcrafted art. And lots of goodwill too!

The well-known classical musician and her husband, a former UN official, keep a home which is elegant and traditional and where the design pays as much attention to aesthetics as function.



Located in a quiet, leafy lane in south Bangalore, the home has been visited by many of India’s top musicians and connoisseurs for its private music museum.

While the couple’s music and shoe collections are largely confined to specially designated sections of the home, the art objects have been used to accessorise the home.
They dot the large house and can be seen in room corners, shelves, tabletops, and on the walls. There is plenty of Asian art like batik wall-hangings from Indonesia, and wooden statuettes from Bali and Indonesia.

There is also copper-work from Kenya, wooden boxes from Bhutan. The carpets are from Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belgium while the cork paintings are from China. Much of the cane furniture too is from Indonesia. The Indian component is  the colourful traditional handicrafts from different corners of the country.

Ethnic crafts

The art collection, like the shoes and musical instruments, has been built up over years of shopping in the many countries which the widely travelled couple has either lived in or visited like India, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Kenya, Zambia, Netherlands, Singapore, China,  Philippines, Fiji, New Zealand, Tanzania, Thailand, Canada, Mauritius, Australia, etc.

“We generally went for the traditional and ethnic crafts of a country. Something distinctive of that country and culture. We also picked up fairly large items since we wanted to accessorise our home and not keep these purchases as small pieces in an obscure corner or stacked away in a closed cupboard.”

There are shoes and shoes, nearly a thousand of them. And there are big ones and miniatures, the smallest is just about half a cm in length and breadth! They also come in the most unusual shapes and designs. Even the materials used vary: the shoes are in copper, glass, ceramic, gold covering, wood, leather, etc. Some of these shoes are desktop items and are actually displayed on side-tables, while a few function as wall-hangings.

Most shoes, however, are arranged neatly in several glass showcases, from where they catch your eye with their bright colours and interesting designs. There is one shaped like a cottage, another like a cup and saucer and yet another resembles a  nest, while another is created to look like a telephone. There are other unusual specimens, ones designed like a jewellery set, shoe-house, calendar, lamp, switchboard, writing pad, shoe-seat, cigarette lighter, paperweight…From India, there are Bidriwork shoes and miniature Kolhapuri chappals, among others.

How the collection grew...

Anasuya explains when the collection was born and how it grew. “At first I saw a beautiful shoe in Mongolia which I brought home. And when we moved to Indonesia I bought miniature shoes in the supermarket. Visitors to our home would invariably notice these shoes and admire them. Their appreciation was my motivation to bring home more such items. I kept any eye out for unusual shoes whenever I went shopping.”

The collections have also grown from the many gifts received from children and extended family who soon realised what kind of presents were welcomed by the couple.  
Upstairs is the music museum which draws so many music lovers and experts including from other cities.

There are about 300 musical instruments in all, ranging from the rare to the common and from the ornate-looking to the plain ones. Remarkably, they are all in working condition, and have a utilitarian value too.

From the large and ornate dramyan to the small and staid morchings and piston-flutes, not only are all of them ready to be played, but Anasuya actually teaches most of these instruments to select students.

She also has a collection of music records––audio tapes and CDs of both streams of Indian classical music as well as world music.

Keeping the music instruments clean is a tough task. Dust and dirt are the great enemies of good sound and can ruin the naadam of a good instrument. So, the couple takes great care to ensure that each instrument is regularly taken out and wiped clean and replaced in the specially built shelves or containers which are also cleaned with the same patience. Ditto for the shoes, which are regularly and carefully cleaned.

The spaciousness of the house and the large, well-lit rooms together with sensible arrangement of all the objects ensure that despite all these collections, the home looks aesthetic and not cluttered or crowded.

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