Welcome to R. K. Narayan’s House in Mysore

6 August, 2016
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IMG_8071-1 ‘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.’
IMG_8081-1‘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.’IMG_8073-1‘So I kept my Yadavagiri house as a retreat for writing.’IMG_8075-1‘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.’IMG_8080-1‘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.’
IMG_8072-1 ‘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 .

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The invitation to the opening of the Bombay Central

13 July, 2016
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Archives: The complete invitation to the opening of the Bombay Central (1930)

In the 1800s, women from Bombay’s native communities were seldom seen at civic ceremonies such as the laying of the foundation stone of an institution or the institution’s opening. Newspapers regularly listed the names of the native and European men, and the few European women, who attended these occasions.

When The Bombay Gazette reported on the attendance of a few local ladies at a humble prize distribution ceremony of the Persian class of the Bombay Young Ladies’ Institution in 1862, it quickly published a correction, clarifying that no native ladies were in fact present!

With this invitation to the opening of the Bombay Central Station, we are pleased to introduce our new Archives section.

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The age of Art Deco

27 June, 2016
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Staircases: Liberty (1949)

New Marine Lines.

The opening of the great cinemas Regal in 1933 and Liberty in 1949, can neatly mark the age of Art Deco in Bombay.

During this period, Art Deco transformed the cityscape with its streamlined forms, colourful facades and iconography of speed and travel.

Hashim Badani gives Liberty a good dekho.

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Becoming good friends

15 June, 2016
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Interiors: The Friends Union Joshi Club

381-A, Narottam Wadi, Kalbadevi Road.

Back in the 1970s, chances were that customers could end up becoming good friends with the proprietor of the Club.

If a customer lost weight after a month of eating at the Club and climbed onto the weighing scales stationed at the premises to prove it, the proprietor marked the month’s meals free!

This anecdote, narrated by Yogesh Purohit, son of the late Mr. Khimjibhai Purohit (pictured above), offers an interesting angle to understand the presence of weighing scales in eating houses in Bombay.

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Boarding without lodging

1 June, 2016
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A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Sri Krishna Boarding

Furnishings: A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi Shri Krishna Boarding (1942)

1st Floor, Market Building, Matunga Railway Station, Matunga.

Matunga’s iconic eatery is in fact not much older than the suburb of Matunga itself. In the 1920s and 30s, Matunga was transformed from a thinly populated village to an organised suburb with apartment blocks and recreational facilities.

The suburb was soon populated with migrants from South India who had settled in Bombay. For these migrants, A. Rama Nayak’s Udipi provided a wholesome and affordable meal; boarding facilities without lodging, as the owner Sashant Nayak explains.

We would like to thank Sashant Nayak for his warm hospitality. ‘The owner of the restaurant also eats here’, we are informed.

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