Stylist Aarti Patkar remembers a time when she could play on the road outside her house. Now, the traffic on the road is so heavy that a signal at 1 pm on a Saturday afternoon causes cars to line up for nearly 50 metres. Of course this is Mumbai and thus one shouldn’t be surprised, especially since I am talking about Turner Road, Bandra (W).
Patkar Bungalow has seen quieter days. Built in the late 1920s, the colonial style bungalow once stood on a property that stretched from the Turner Road-Linking Road signal to the Popley Jewels junction. Aarti, who now lives here with her mother, says that the family used to keep horses on the compound.
The house was commissioned by Aarti’s great grandfather Ramchandra Krishnaji Patkar (RKP), whose initials stand proud on the stained glass on the front façade of the house. Aarti says RKP was in the construction business and the family had a stone quarry at Andheri’s Gilbert Hill. Originally, the family is from a Goa village called Pat, hence the family name Patkar.
I am not sure if the layout of the two-storeyed structure is typical of the English or the Hindus, so I shall just describe it.
There is a verandah that leads into a rather large hall. Doors separate it from another hall of similar proportions. Doors in the halls lead to bedrooms. Aarti counts six bedrooms on each floor but admits that it is possible that initially only four of these were bedrooms and perhaps the rooms in the middle were used as dressing rooms.
While currently the dining table occupies the second hall, Aarti says that initially the dining hall was in the other wing of the house and the current kitchen was the pooja ghar. The ground floor, which is occupied by a high-end spa and a jewellery store, is also laid out identically.
Aarti then shows me her bedroom which she says used to be the kitchen originally. The attached bathroom she adds was the room where the utensils were washed. One entire room. There are other such interesting rooms in the Patkar Bungalow. Aarti says till quite recently – comparatively of course – one of the rooms in the house was known as the “narlachi kholi” i.e. the room where the coconuts gathered from the property were stored.
Aarti also takes me up to the attic which is everything that an Enid Blyton lover dreamt of. There are old cots and cribs in one corner, photographs that have somehow survived the assault of dust, large vessels and crevices that would have been useful for hiding. The climb up to the attic, which is on the terrace, was steep and Aarti warns me to be careful as I climb down the wooden staircase.
The cream and brick-red bungalow, had for a brief period been painted in shades of grey, but the house-proud Aarti says, “I didn’t like and changed it back.”