There are a few houses that have been on my radar way before the blog was set up and this particular one is one of them. This house, yes it is a ramshackle one currently, is a landmark in Andheri that no one cares for. Standing on a plot on the road, this house was the sixth bungalow of Seven Bungalows and is today the only one standing.
It’s been a long time since the other bungalows were pulled down to be replaced by highrises, but the sole resident of Shanti Niwas, Pervin Irani is in no mood to move.
Nearly in her eighth decade Irani, when I met her a couple of weeks ago, was unable to see clearly. But, she walked right from the living room into her bedroom and back without missing a beat to show me old articles written on the house (for reference one was in Mid-Day in 1999 and the other in Timeout in 2009).
She’s probably told this story a hundred times but Irani does it once more.
“Initially, it was a house that was completely made in wood. Later, we started cementing the walls,” she says, adding that the house was originally built in the 1800s by a Parsi lady. “But after having built the house, her daughter died, so she sold it and moved out.”
The Iranis moved to the house in 1962.
She walks me into the passage of the house and points through one window where I can see remnants of a backyard and a few buildings typical of the Andheri towers. “We used to be able to see the sea all the way to Bandra from here.” And on the front yard, Irani says, was a forest. “For the longest time there was no proper road here. We’d hear wolves in the night and find snakes in the yard.”
She allows me to take a peep into the other rooms on the first floor where she lives. The balcony looks like it had several windows once, but they were never replaced after they fell off. The floors are all tiled now but the ceiling still retains its wooden charm.
Inside the bedroom, which Irani insists I check out, is a bed with a bed post and all.
But the house in itself is in shambles. “I feel it shake when even an auto passes by.”
Why is she still staying here.
Irani says she is not sure. “I know where everything is. I have my life set here. The bhajiwala comes here, the cook comes I don’t want to move into a new place.”
She talks about how curious everyone is about the house. “People come and ask about it. One day a gentleman stopped with his children and said that this was the house he grew up in. He couldn’t believe that it was still standing.”
Frankly, neither can I.
Are there any restorers out there who can ensure that this house retains its original charm till as long as Irani wants it?