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You know what I hate the most about beauty parlours/salons/‘spas’ (don’t worry this is still www.bombayarchitecture.wordpress.com)? That I have to sit in a cramped space in rather uncomfortable positions, with someone working on me all the time. It’s like trying to relax at Dadar station at 9.30 am.

Which is why when I entered Alter Ego, a salon located on Cadell Road in Mahim, I was blown away. The salon is located on the ground floor of Zulekha House and has a ceiling that’s 11 feet high and a carpet area of 540 sq ft. With minimalist interiors it does look like a place I can relax while getting a pedicure.

The owner of the salon, Kshitij Edwankar, says he has been operating from this studio for the last six years. “I had been trying to buy this place for a long time,” he adds.

But the place has not always known to be peaceful.

Lata, who spent her childhood here and whose parents continue to live on the top floor, says that when her father moved into the buildings there was a rumour that it was haunted. (Since I get spooked really easily, it’s not something I dwelled upon).

At that time Zulekha was called Isa Ali Terrace. It was built in the 1920s, Lata says, and initially, Europeans lived there. They moved out during the Independence period.

She says while the surroundings around have changed – cottages have been replaced by high-rises – Zulekha has stood its ground. Edwankar adds that when he took over the place, he found it very difficult to make even minor changes.

“It’s a very strong building. The building didn’t suffer any damage even during the 1967 Koyna earthquake,” she says.

The ground-plus-three floor structure has load bearing walls, which by the way translated into English simply into walls that can bear great loads. Thus, the walls are thick at the ground floors and thin out at the top. Carpet area, therefore, also increases on the higher floors.

In fact, Edwankar points out the window sill, which is 14 inches wide. Can you imagine the lovely monsoon days you could spend reading books or sipping coffee on the sill as crazed office-goers burn with jealousy as they try to navigate the Cadell Road traffic?

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