Steeped in memories

Vintage House

Steeped in memories

Quaint: The 75-year-old cottage with its high-tiled roof. DH photos by Manjunath M S

In the middle of a winding lane in Whitefield is a little cottage where time stands still. Tucked away in a rambling garden filled with ancient trees that drape themselves almost protectively, around the quaint tiled dwelling that is over 75 years old lives Saam Mahabaleshwarwalla.

A wooden rocking chair sits perfectly ensconced in the deep red porch which has a scalloped edge flanked by two red brick pillars.

In another old wicker chair snoozes a Siamese cat while its almost identical twin eyes new comers with regal disdain. The cats are whimsically named Tensing and Jennie (after Paul Gallico’s storybook character) and fit perfectly into the genteel ambience of the place which is filled with memories and knicknacks of Saam’s late wife Edna and her mother Doris Kopke.

A peep into the old cottage with its high tiled roof and ventilators inset with glass in glowing colours is fascinating. The parapet in the verandah is piled up with books, ranging from detective novels to poetry and literary classics. Soon one is led into not a hall or a living room but appropriately enough a ‘book room’ where Saam’s love for books is once again evident. The room is filled with books of every description, each jostling for space among the racks and shelves.

“Edna and I met in a school in the North where we were both teachers. Her maiden name was Kopke and she was the daughter of a German couple who met and fell in love in Bombay on the tram just like in the movies. Edna's father was a banker with Standard Chartered  and after he met Doris, followed her to Bangalore and proposed,” smiles Saam nostalgically.

The house still has some of the beautifully crafted lace doilies and antimacassars that Doris used to make. They are still so carefully preserved although their original snowy whiteness has now turned ivory with age. Old sepia toned photographs and pictures of Doris and Edna with their distinct Teutonic looks occupy the pride of place in the house. “Doris travelled to India from Europe via Afghanistan in the late 1800s. She used to talk about Bangalore being full of wild white roses that grew by the wayside,” he says.
The kitchen holds the ancient stoves and a baking oven where Doris baked her special homemade cakes and biscuits from old family recipes.

“She never bought stuff from bakeries and her Christmas cakes were simply amazing,” says Saam. The house was built in 1945 and after Edna's mother added the porch and its scalloped detailing there were very few changes made.

The rear portion has a little inner courtyard between the house and the kitchen almost like old homes of the time and serves as a perfect utility area. The rest of the garden is filled with rambling trees and shrubs, with little pathways winding through them at will.
Saam will soon move out of this home, which holds such dear memories from the past and with him will end another little chapter in Bangalore’s history.

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