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Situated on Hazari Pahad or Dabha, is a unique house. It is right behind Sandipani and in fact shares the compound wall with the school. It is the only house in the vicinity.
When one says “designer house” one thinks of houses with Italian granite/ marble, costly chandeliers and imported English or Italian furniture, right? Also swimming pools, manicured gardens and luxury sedans in the drive way. Houses that cost mega bucks.
Wrong! You will find those kind of designer houses a plenty in our city now. But you will not find another ‘amcha ghar’. That’s a certainty.
It looks different even as you approach it. Statues dot the outside placed randomly as if to welcome the visitors. The outside porch has slated light beams coming in between bamboo walls.
The open door to the drawing room offers a sight that takes your breath away in its simplicity and beauty.
A big Jatin Das painting adorns a major portion of the facing wall. Simple, but comfortable furniture is laid around the big round. On the side wall is an almost 10 feet sculpture that has symbolic representation of the 3 Goddesses of Hinduism, Laxmi, Sarawati and Durga. It is a creation of the owner of the house, Hirachand Anandji Vikamshi. He studied Art at the Tilak Rashtriya Vidyalaya, in Khamgaon, near Akola. Nehru had called it “the Shantiniketan of Vidarbha. A seventeen feet Ambedkar done by him stands proudly near the Lotus temple at Kamptee.
But he is not the only artist whose works adorn the house. Vikamshi’s two sons Tanul and Lalith are also artists trained at the JJ School of Arts, Mumbai. His daughter in law Milli has done BFA from the Lucknow college of Art.
All three specialize in different forms of painting: Tanul does figures and polka dots, Lalith does ‘dreamscapes’ in geometrical patterns and Milli does collage and painting. The whole house with its strange walls and corridors is like an art gallery of their works.
The design of the house is such that the rooms flow into each other, yet providing privacy and space to the four suits occupied by the two couples, Lalith and Tanul and Milli’s daughter Riddhi who is a singer.
But the infrastructure itself is very simple and basic. Galvanized roofs erected over iron angles. Exposed brick walls and coloured cement flooring. The gap between the roof and the walls has plenty of light and fresh air playing through the house. Natural ‘airconditioning’. Each bedroom has a balcony open to the outside with a modern bathroom at the end of it.
Don’t you feel scared? Your house is so isolated and yet so easy to break into? We ask.
“Why should anyone want to ‘break into it?’ Asks Sarla, the main hostess, Hirachand’s wife. It is ‘our house’ – everyone is welcome with open arms.
(In fact, the next plan for expansion in the huge ‘farm’ like space around the house is a big studio cum workshop where budding artists can come to learn painting, sculpting and sketching also live-in while doing so.)
Art around this house isn’t contrived or placed by design. It is organic and each piece has a story to tell.
Like in the corridor is an interesting collage done of a ‘chaiwalla’. (This was an entire award winning series done by her – much before a chaiwalla was a fashionable being to be!) And on the kitchen cabinet is the actual aluminium kettle of the teenaged chaiwalla who was the main model of the paintings. Brightly painted, of course.
The house is teeming with life. Apart from the humans living in it are five dogs – two adults and three pups, rabbits, white mice, singing love birds and one big cock! He is multicolored like one of the artists took a brush to it and filled in the colors.
“I began painting animal figures and that wanted real animals around” says Milli.
Asked if the cute furry, pups are up for adoption, the reply is a firm NO said in a chorus!
But why am I writing all this, when one can view photos and get the whole picture?
If a picture speaks in a thousand words, this house speaks literally in thousand pictures!!!
Look, and be proud. It is ‘our house’ after all!