An ode to the past

An ode to the past
John Valerian Tauro, a resident of Mangaluru, has been preserving the bygone culture through antiques in his unique ‘home museum’. Over a span of 45 years, his collection has grown by leaps and bounds and created a house of wonders.

Visitors to the house are welcomed with toddy jaggery made from coconut toddy (voli bella) and cool water from an earthen pot. On the outer walls of his house, you can find vintage household implements and kitchen artefacts. In the main living room, glass cases are filled with vintage books including a set of an old edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, collections of issues of magazines like National Geographic and Readers Digest.

John has displayed his first book purchase, Arthur Frommer’s Europe on $10 a Day proudly in the setup. In fact, it was this book that inspired John to set out on this collection drive. Neatly arranged porcelain figurines of animals complement the collection beautifully, while the walls are adorned with framed classical and modern paintings. 

A wide range of old telephones, musical instruments, including harmonium, tabla,  mandolin and even an old accordion can be found in John’s abode. Old radios, transistors and a vintage gramophone with treasured LP (long play) records also find refuge here. A metallic traditional game called chennemane rests on the floor. Apart from these, an unbelievable range of clocks, wrist watches and torch lights are also displayed here. 

The kitchen has different types of local traditional implements and utensils made of wood, copper, brass, bronze and cane — elements that were in vogue in the past but are now extinct. In keeping with old customs, vegetables like southe kai, pumpkins, tubers and the like are suspended from the ceiling. The wall adjacent to the staircase is covered with framed photographs of John and his family. Many pictures like the portrait of five generations starting from the grandmother of John’s wife Regina to their granddaughter is presented in this area.

Presently, one of the bedrooms upstairs has been converted to a ‘Room of Horrors’. Zombie characters stretched out on the beds along with skeletons, demons and other ghostly characters are given life through appropriate sound and lighting. Even the toilet is not spared — interesting posters adorning the walls will definitely make you laugh. 

One balcony in the first floor has scaled models of different cars and vehicles. A section purely dedicated to pens will amaze you. Also displayed on the walls are pictures of vintage and modern cars, some of which are owned by John himself. Even locks & keys, cigarette lighters, cards and other such paraphernalia can be found in John’s home.  

Born in 1946, John has clocked in 35 years of service in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Government of India and with the Kuwait government. He calls his abode a ‘Budget House’. Ask him why and he says, “Whenever I consulted engineers and builders about constructing my home, they always had one question, ‘What is your budget?’” John’s love for travelling took him to several places in the world and boosted his collection drive greatly.

Many also know John because of his small blue and white caravan, Valerie. He has got major modifications done to this simple Bajaj auto to make it stand out amongst the rest. His house sees many footfalls everyday and some visitors even promise to donate relics to his massive collection. John says, “Old is gold and their value can not be measured. Memories become realities. Mine is a personal effort and I surely want to continue this as long as I can. I hope to make people nostalgic and preserve the coastal culture through this.”

You can contact John on 9686211929 or e-mail him at

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