I am back. It’s been a long while but only because I have been so busy with so many exciting things. However, I shall not waste time talking about me, when there are so many precious treasures in the city to talk about.
The big news is that I have shifted closer to civilisation (Bandra) and one day, while walking from my house to my cousin’s — which basically means crossing over from S V Road to Linking Road — I chanced upon this house.
A look at either of two busy roads and you wouldn’t guess it was there, but Chandika Sadan has been around. Since 1928.
Its owners-cum-residents were kind enough to allow me a glimpse of the house and give permission to take pictures.
Over a cup of coffee on a hot April morning (PS: where did the spring go) 84-year-old Jaipal Ramakant Kothari, whose father had the house constructed, told me the secret to an enjoyable summer — enough cross-ventilation. Now we all of course know that, but how many of our houses actually employs this very basic rule for an easy life in Mumbai? Chandika Sadan does.
The ground-plus-one structure, says Kothari, was built in such a way that one door would face another door or window, allowing for residents to enjoy the sea breeze.
“Initially, when the house was built it was a ground-floor structure, later when the FSI (Floor Space Index) norms were changed, another floor was added,” he says, adding that since his father was with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (then known as the Bombay Municipal Corporation) he was on the ball where the city’s building norms were concerned.
Kothari adds that the construction of the house began in 1923 and his father had a salary of Rs 20 at the time. The plot is 90×90 sq ft and cost Rs 28,000 to build (don’t we just hate inflation?). The family moved in 1929. “Even in 1942 my father was paying instalments on the house loan,” says Kothari, a former State Bank of India employee.
But there’s more to the significance of Chandika Sadan than just its pretty face.
The house — which has three bedrooms each with three windows — is part of a plot of 52 which was bought over by the Pathare Prabhu community in the 1920s. The area extends from 11th Linking Road to Madhu Park.
Has much changed?
Not really says Kothari. Only that while initially the house was laid with stone tiles, it now has regular floor tiles. These can however be seen in the garden area.
PS: So, the Kotharis said that the tiles are called Shahabadi/Shahabazi. I can’t find any reference on the Web. If anyone is more enlightened, please drop in a comment. Thanks