India, Incredible India! That’s what the the ads claim and it’s true.
Our first trip in India, day two the scene: dawn breaking on a local bus heading to Pondicherry, crowded in, windows all fogged up, the two of us tired from months of traveling. Even though we have traveled extensively for years in S.E. Asia, we have never been to this part of Asia. Years earlier we we were inspired by an import gallery 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 buses fogged up windows what am I seeing but shop after shop lining the road with old pillars piled out front. OK, now I’m excited and as soon as we settle in we’re off to find the perfect ones for our new home. India is a very large country so I’m feeling very fortunate to have arrived on day two and immediately come across exactly what what I was hoping to find.
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 it was 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.
Wandering through this charming town we eventually found a shop with six exceptional rosewood columns that would set the style of our future home. Now I consider myself a pretty good bargainer with all the travels and building i’ve done but my negotiating skills weren’t very appreciated this time. The deal done, we watched as the men carried the pillars down the street to begin their journey to America.
Armed with our credit card and inspired by our success we decided to dive in deeper and find someone to create the doors I was designing for our home. They ended up not being just any doors but doors made from old rosewood (Palisander) beams cut into heavy boards. The beams having once held up a magnificent Haveli in the Chettinad region in southern Tamil Nadu. These haveli’s are multi floored mansions built around an open court yard housing large extended families and their servants. They were of exceptional style with rows upon rows of pillars and detailed carved wood work through out. Many were built in this region during the 19th and early 20th century by wealthy Indian families, working with the British as administrators in Burma. Now no longer able to afford and care for these very large homes they are continually broken up for salvage.
It is said that the doors and windows of a house are the soul of a home. That our doors were to be made of such old rosewood, from a time when the land was still home to tigers and wild elephants and the wind blew through the still untouched ancient forests. Our home in the America would have such history and mystery within to welcome us …