The lanes of Chattarpur are narrow and congested. They are a driver’s nightmare, can be a pedestrian’s downfall, and are altogether too claustrophobia-inducing for a normal human being, I think as I examine my map and search for the bungalow I’m due to visit.
But my anti-Chattarpur thoughts vanish the instant I turn into Horses’ Drive, the road leading to the residence of Shivani and Amir Singh Pasrich. Miraculously, the congestion gives way to space and greenery. The bungalow I will soon step into is white and sprawling. Chattarpur is actually lovely, I think.
Open spaces are an underlying theme of the Pasrich home. (Photo: Aalok Soni)
Inside, the walls of the bungalow are covered with art. Anjolie Ela Menon takes pride of place, but keeps company with Paresh Maity and Sanjay Bhattacharya. The outdoor greenery has an indoor counterpart, in two L-shaped green areas and a book nook at the room’s upper level.
The plants –money plant, areca palm and mother-in-law’s tongue - help fight indoor pollution, says Shivani. The greenery also adds to the classic feel of the house.
“My background is media, glamour, travel, so I might have chosen a modern or glitzy house, but this house really speaks about my husband (lawyer and polo player Amir Singh Pasrich),” explains Shivani. “The old-world feel is Amir’s preference. He made it very clear that the interiors have to be classic, because that’s what he is. We worked as a team and right from the beginning I made him team leader.”
The sprawling living room. (Photo: Aalok Soni)
Rajasansi House had been constructed by Amir’s parents more than 20 years ago, but remained unoccupied till Shivani and Amir moved there from their Golf Links residence eight years ago.
“My mother-in-law, Hemant Pasrich is the principal of the Study School though her true calling is that of an artist. She had planned the house in an inventive fashion,” says Shivani.
“So our home had reflections of the maestro in her like a 30 by 30 foot living room with a 16 foot high ceiling. While that was great, we had to make some structural changes to fortify the building. Working within these constraints worked well for me. I may not have been as creatively inclined if the existing structure did not pose challenges.”
The interiors reflect the history of the family. There are brick panels decorated with antique swords. The panels are not purchased at an interiors shop: they are conceived and created by Shivani herself. They are made with tiny pieces of leftover panelling found in the store, which were matched together to make whole brick tiles. The swords belonged to Amir’s great-great-grandfather, who was part of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s darbar.
“You can’t go to a shop and tell them, ‘I want antique swords put on something like this!’ These are ideas that come when you put things together with what you have, and then they are yours,” says Shivani.
“Anjolie Ela Menon had done the signature design for my play on Draupadi (
Draupadi - Will My Spirit Live On?).
When she gave me a painting on the same theme she told me to light it up with a lamp. I was in love with her work and did not want just any lamp to have the privilege so when we were in Ladakh, we bought collapsible horns that I converted into lamps.”
Almost everything in the room, which has been divided into two symmetrical seating arrangements, has a story. The Tiffany dog was a wedding gift from a cousin. The table supported by a wooden horse was once a rocking horse purchased in Nepal by Shivani’s mother-in-law for her grandchildren; when the children grew up, their grandmother converted it into a table, with all their medals hanging from its neck.
Much of the wood used in the house has been recycled: picked up from a restaurant in a five star hotel when it closed down. Shivani then used her creativity to convert solid doors into interesting pieces with fretwork.
Making room for life: The dining area in the living room is Shivani’s favourite part of her home. It also has an ornate, winding staircase. (Photo: Raj K Raj)
The room also contains a bar from where you can operate a cleverly hidden home theatre system, a fireplace, a winding wood staircase leading to a book nook at the upper level and Shivani’s favourite part of the room, the dining area.
“I enjoy working here on a straight back (maintaining the right posture is very important for me) and it also gives me a perfect view of the front and the back of the house,” says Shivani. “My personality resides in the little knick-knacks in the house, Amir’s in the concept while the kids are in every part especially the garden”.
You can see the children’s influence in the lovely green outdoors with swings in a corner. You can also see the love this family has for nature. The Pasrichs have three horses, dogs, rabbits and pigeons. “The pigeons take me back to my childhood because my father had an aviary,” says Shivani.
Shivani in one of the balconies that has a glass-roofed skylight. (Photo: Raj K Raj)
There is a rain water harvesting system that makes their home ecologically sustainable, and Shivani has also created a glass-roofed skylight over one of the balconies, making a rectangular see-through cut on the roof, covered with glass, and growing creepers through the side.
“This is perfect for a rainy day,” says Shivani. “We also do yoga here during the winter months.”
From HT Brunch, August 23
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