India, Incredible India! That’s what they say in the ads and it’s true. Day two the scene: dawn breaking on a local bus heading to Pondicherry, crowded in and tired from months of traveling through Asia. Lydia has always wanted to visit this country and even though we have traveled extensively for years in S.E. Asia, we’ve never up till now. Years earlier we we were in J. Terry Gallery (Jon & Eva, now friends) in Seattle that carried the most interesting pieces from India and what amazed me most as a builder was the pillars that they had. So now, looking thru the fogged up windows on the bus what am I seeing but shop after shop along the road with old pillars piled out front. OK, now I’m excited and as soon as we settle in were off to find the perfect ones for our new home to be. How can one be so lucky to arrive on day two and immediately come across exactly what what I was hoping to find. India is not a small country after all. Well we didn’t find just two but six rosewood columns and after negotiating, little and not very successfully, we watched them carried down the street to begin the journey to America.
Pondicherry is a little piece of the south of France in India with classic colonial architecture covered in bougainvillea and shady Neem trees lining the streets. So surprising to find French bakeries, restaurants and boutique hotels in this part of the world. One forgets that it wasn’t only the British but the French, Dutch, Portuguese and even the Danes who had holds on this diverse and ancient culture.
Inspired by our success with finding pillars we decided to dive in deeper and find someone to make the doors I was designing for our home. These ended up not being just any door but doors out of old recycled rosewood beams which had once been part of a Haveli in the Chettinad region in southern Tamil Nadu. Haveli’s are mansions built in the 18th and 19th century by wealthy Indian families, working with the British as administrators in Burma. They were of exceptional style with rows upon rows of pillars and detailed carved wood work through out. No longer able to afford and care for these very large homes they are continually broken up for salvage.
To know that our doors were made from such ancient rosewood trees, trees from the untouched tropical forests of long ago when the land was still home to tigers and wild elephants. To build our home in the America with such history…