Soaking in the old-world charm

Soaking in the old-world charm

Rediscovering History

Soaking in the old-world charm

Residents of Whitefield have a new reason to celebrate with the launch of ‘The Sommer House’, one of Bangalore’s last bungalows, a community resource centre.

Owned by Sulaiman Jamal, the 1950s heritage bungalow that once belonged to Dorothy Sommers will host a variety of events to remind people of the yesteryears.

“When I bought this property, it was a wild orchard. It’s taken a year and a half to renovate it. We’re doing our best to revive the place for senior citizens, officers and the Whitefield community in general. There’ll be no one living here but one can get in touch with us and we can give out the cottage.

Whitefield residents who have left the country, for instance, can return and stay here to relive that old-world charm,” explains Sulaiman.

Aside from the large gazebo and stone patio, the tile-roofed cottage isn’t a grand villa in itself. But there is certainly a treasure trove of stories waiting to be discovered inside it.
There is quaint period furniture, the coat rack and an antique bath tub among other artifacts.

“There is also a piano that belonged to the Giddens family, who were residents of Whitefield. Even the 1939 Austin 14, formerly owned by late Macgukin, also a resident of Whitefield, has returned to its home,” informs the owner.

“Sulaiman loves collecting objects of old India, especially of old Bangalore. I’m probably the only thing in his life that’s not an antique,” laughs his wife Christine.

Beth Chapman of the Overseas Women’s Club is also involved in this revival project. “To recreate that Anglo-Indian heritage of Whitefield, we’re looking at old events like dancing in the gazebo, catered dinners, piano nights and theatre-in-the-round.

We’ll use these events to remind people what Bangalore, the Garden City, was before it became the concrete jungle that it is today,” she shares, adding, “this is Bangalore and it needs to be admired. Being an expat here, I’ve been asking a lot of questions about its history and with this bungalow, I’m beginning to get some answers.”

Ingrid Everall, who will be helping in putting these events together, adds, “There will also be art exhibition, antique auctions, book readings and maybe even flea markets. When Sulaiman came up to me and told me that I threw the best parties, I had to come on board.”

The “original Whitefield-ers”, on their part, are more than optimistic about this bungalow.
“I think we need more places like this. Whitefield has such an old-world charm and we’re fast losing that. This house is very typical of Whitefield houses,” notes Annie Cariappa, a resident of the area since 1987.

Francis, a resident of Whitefield for 22 years, agrees. “This certainly is a marvellous concept. I do believe that Whitefield needs more life. It seems like it had been missing that crucial something and a cultural expansion like this fills that void inestimably,” she says.

Towards the preservation of the Whitefield heritage, Deepa Peck, the president of the 108-year-old Whitefield Settlers Association, shares the zeal that matches that of the Jamal family. On what she expects out of an initiative like this, she says, “Music shows and officer’s dances in the gazebo will really bring back the good old days.”