‘I had designed a small study—a bay-room with eight windows affording me a view in every direction: the Chamundi Hill temple on the south, a variety of spires, turrets, and domes on the east, sheep and cows grazing in the meadows on all sides, railways trains cutting across the east-west slope.’
‘The other members of the family could not yet move in, for the younger generation’s school and colleges and my brothers’ offices were all around Laxmipuram.’‘So I kept my Yadavagiri house as a retreat for writing.’‘Nowadays, young people, hippies and non-hippies alike, have accustomed us to indifferent clothes and styles, but those were times when any doorman would turn you back if you were not properly dressed.’‘Graham Greene liked the story when I narrated it to him…While I was hesitating whether to leave my hero alive or dead at the end of the story, Graham was definite that he should die.’
‘Subsequently I found it helpful to curtain off a large window beside my desk so that my eyes might fall on nothing more attractive than a grey drape, and thus I managed to write a thousand words a day and complete two novels and a number of short stories during my years of isolation at Yadavagiri.’
Interiors: R. K. Narayan’s House (1952)
A post from the guest city of Mysore (and Malgudi). D 14, Vikekananda Road, Yadavagiri, Mysore.
R. K. Narayan’s autobiography My Days and recent articles in the press suggest that this house was as cumbersome to build as it was to restore.
After a spectacular foundation ceremony in 1946, Narayan’s house building activities plummeted due to a lack of funds, materials and a troublesome building contractor. Narayan had to borrow, litigate and exert over five years to see the project to fruition.
In 2011, ten years after Narayan’s death, his grandchildren sold the house to a developer who had begun to strip the structure down. The Mysore Urban Development Authority declared the property a heritage site and halted the demolition. Local writers protested, asking why the Karnataka state government was spending large sums on an author who did not write in the Kannada language. Finally, after a well executed restoration project, the house has been turned into a museum.
As the writing retreat that allowed India’s beloved author to write a thousand words a day, all the trouble over the house’s building and restoration was well worth it.
Photos courtesy Mysore’s most dashing author Mahesh Rao .