Monday, October 30, 2017

A house on Ripon Street

No, it’s not even on Ripon Street. Ripon Street actually ends at Lower Circular Road but in the long standing tradition of locating themselves on the nearest modish sounding address, the occupants of the house often do the same. Haji Lane just doesn’t have the same ring.

The house is old. Some say that the ground floor base of the house is 150 years old and was the studio of noted painter Abanindranath Tagore. Like that of the blue-eyed Englishwoman said to have been seen by some domestic servants, this story about the house is yet to be confirmed.

For a functionally focussed house, so much so that it wasn’t given a name, it has its fair share of stories. The tall cool walls and their wooden shuttered windows, watched over by the brilliant red in spring krishnachura tree, have enclosed within them many a memory – newly married couples tentatively learning the ropes of matrimony; happy childhoods by the dozen as experience and an experienced pool of grandparents allowed them to be; and re-unions of re-animated cousins as they talk of them days past whilst the latest generations make latest memories.

A first-time visitor might note the long first floor verandah, once open to the streets and neighbourhood burglars but now protected by a grill of elaborate design, where the sunlight casts all manner of patterns through the day and where it is possible to daydream looking out onto the ultra-busy street, with a distance more emotional than physical.

Then there’s the roof, that is open to the breezes from the Ganga and the azaan calls of numerous mosques. With whimsical views both distant and near, there is never quite a wrong time to go up to the third floor in search of innumerable imaginary stories.

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