Escape from humdrum

Vintage House

Escape from humdrum

In 1882, the Maharajah of Mysore made a grant of 3,900 acres of land to the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian Association to establish an agricultural settlement. Since then, the settlement, which was named Whitefield grew, developed and thrived building itself around two concentric circles called the Inner Circle and the Outer Circle, the first-of-its-kind anywhere in the world,” says Vivian D’Souza, who lives in Waverly with his wife Sheela and mother Louise. The house was built in 1882 and situated on a plot of 42,000 sq ft in the heart of Whitefield.

“It was first called Waverly Inn as it was a guest house and weekend getaway for British settlers. It was owned and run  by a businessman named James Hamilton. Legend has it that he has a ‘fetching’ daughter who caught the eye of Winston Churchill, who became a frequent visitor to the inn for obvious reasons,” says Vivian.

A note from past records shows that the Waverly Inn could accommodate two families or six single people at one time, so it was generally full.The Refreshment Room (the restaurant), which was run by the same management viz Messers Hamilton, Strange & Co was patronised by cricket and football teams, casual visitors and residents, who wanted to read the papers, play a game of draughts, chess or cards and discuss politics.
Waverly is made of stone and limestone and driving a nail into the walls is always a hit or miss affair as the nail encounters stone more often than not.

The building features are typical of the times it was built in with high ceilings, Italian tiles and round ventilator with ornate inset grills. Simply furnished, the informal enclosed verandah leads to a spacious hall and dining room with bedrooms on the sides and out houses at the back.

“Our Whitefield telephone numbers were two digits till as recently as the 70s. We could book a trunk call, take a trip to the City and return well in time to take the call. Cars were the preserve of a fortunate few and the rest had the infrequent bus service to depend on,” says Vivian. The perennial water shortage in Whitefield limits one’s gardening aspirations quite severely so the grounds of Waverly are home to several fruit-bearing trees rather than ornamental plants and flowers that require a lot of watering.

“My father Boniface wanted a home, that reminded him of his birthplace Mangalore, with sprawling gardens and plenty of space and fresh air. He found the houses in Bangalore too constricting and too close together, so Waverly was perfect. It is not easy to keep the place going and we even had to reinforce the structure with steel rods that runs through the windows to keep them from cracking open,” he adds. The trees at Waverly are very old and new ones are planted each season covering as many varieties of fruit as possible even though squirrels, birds and bats have a field day often tucking into the barely ripened crop of pomegranates, custard apples and the like while snakes make their slithery presence felt now and then.

Tamarind, mango, allspice, curry leaf, spinach, star gooseberries, vanilla and guava are grown and nurtured here just as carefully as Waverly is kept intact with its past history, memories and old world charm.

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