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Searching for a perfect Lutyens’ living room.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
I'm young. I too have a dream.
I want to be rich, famous and a VIP. In other words, I want to lord over a Lutyens' bungalow.
Meanwhile can someone tell me how cool are the taste of hi-fi people who live inside those pretty white houses? How is their living room? How thick are their curtains? How is the view outside from their frosted glass windows? How cold is their air conditioner? How many paintings hang on their walls? How many carpets deck their floor? (Or are there Italian marbles?) How many bookcases they have?
I've never got invitation to a Lutyen living room. Living in a jamnaa par apartment, I've been invited only to jamnaa par living rooms -- which are very 'classy', very 'artful', very 'valuable'. There I've admired made-in-China Mona Lisas, rexene sofas, glass-topped coffee tables, artificial flowers and plastic parrots, complete with green feathers and red beaks.
A few ambitious drawing rooms even boast of the complete never-opened volumes of Encyclopedia Britannicas. The hosts in such living rooms are almost always polite, the chai always come added with milk and conversations always deal with who-is-getting-married-to-whom and who-is-getting-what-salary. Like Jane Austen transported to a desi setting. Netherfields turning into Nangloi.
But the suspense remains?
What's the world like inside Lutyens' bungalows? I talked to a friend's friend who, thanks to his address on the other side of Yamuna, has regular access to these exalted places. "Most of the living rooms there are very simple," he revealed to my shock. "The rooms are usually large and they're never crowded with furniture or carpets." Indeed, the ostentation is limited only to mahogany bookshelves.
Ahem, dear reader, a warning here: don’t take my words for the absolute truth. These are versions of a friend’s friend and you had better double-check the claims with your… well, friend’s friend.
Just to widen my research, I called up a friend’s mother who is a sort of social butterfly in Chankayapuri living rooms. She said that she often sees old sofas, handsome writing tables and some odd pieces that do not always reflect a coordinated look.
That’s excusable. People living at that level can afford to look confused.
However, not all Lutyens’ living rooms are simple and artsy. The social butterfly recently went to the house of a new acquaintance whose name she wouldn’t divulge. “You’re the Delhi Walla; you’ll leak everything and ruin my friendship,” she said.
She then went on to ‘leak’ that her new friend’s centrally air-conditioned house has granite flooring, giant marble statues of Venus and a grand piano. “Everything looked flashy, everything was self-consciously placed and everyone was saying kya zabardast ghar banaya hai.
It seems jamnaa paar is no longer restricted to jamnaa ke paar. Mr Edwin Lutyens, run for your life.