Aneela Zeb Babar and I have known each other’s virtual presence for a couple of years now. I love what and how she writes, and she enjoys the doses of pretty from An Indian Summer. Aneela moved to India recently, and one hot summer afternoon, we met at her new home in New Delhi. Over refreshing cups of Aneela’s special chai, we had endless conversations, laughter, and a tour of her lovely home. I loved the fact that each little thing in her home has a story, a history, or a memory attached. And I won’t even attempt to retell these stories to you, for I have the utterly charming and fabulously witty Aneela right here! Over to Aneela:
When you ask me about style and inspiration I guess for a long, long time it has been my mum, and my earlier houses were kind of an ‘inspired tribute’ to how she had done up her home but some time last year I think I finally grew more comfortable with who I was and now that I look back at the photographs over the year, I recognize how the blues and reds and a sense of eclectic are replacing the creams and beige and tapestries of before!
Ours is a family of Baba, Begum and a 3 year old. Sometime in September 2009, we packed up ‘The House With The White Picket Fence’ in Melbourne to live a life ‘unsettled’. Which meant that most of the paraphernalia of what constitutes as home was packed up in a garage and only the ‘portable memories’ made the cut in the boxes. The past three years has seen a lot of travel and homes combined with aspirations that my child grows up with some objects around him that have remained consistent and that we don’t exactly kill his sense of the aesthetic living in rented houses at times with someone else’s furniture.
I think our home in Delhi now reflects the design demands of living out of a suitcase and combining a bit about who the father and me are and our journey so far….the 3 year old has quite an opinion about what makes it across the threshold too so the rooms combine some of his stories as well.
I thought that most of our purchases were random or something that the three of us could finally agree on…but I realize now that there is quite a method to our mad buying. Most of the artwork has a strong woman’s voice. I know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but with our house rules of no TV…everything from the paintings, the bed spreads, the lamps, and of course the book shelves have to tell a hundred tales. I have quite a design crush on the art of kantha, also the Bengali jatra…so the three year old has spent many a summer afternoon poring over the bedspreads tracing stories with his finger about the embroidered ghouls, and camels, parrots, fish, birds and butterflies.
I am guilty of being like many South Asians who dream in English but like to live the subaltern…so I give good business to Barefoot in Colombo especially their lovely painted ceramic pottery and the metal craft workers of Bangladesh who introduced me to their reading of Ganesha and Saraswati. Some things have not changed, I still cannot kick my family’s addiction to carpets so there are a lot red carpets lying around the house bought in Afghanistan and from Rawalpindi and Quetta in Pakistan! My husband is getting help for his penchant for lamps around the house.
We indulge in our penchant for nostalgia with wing back chairs, collecting faux antique writing desks, the odd gramophone , antique wall clock. My favorite child remains the Chicago Phone which amazingly still works.
When it comes to portable memories …some things like my grandfather’s war medals, my grand mum’s trays, a grand aunt’s milk jug, and father’s books will always find a place in my suitcase. And there will always be a wall to accommodate my collection of political cartoons.
Aneela, shukriya (thank you) for sharing your lovely warm home with us!
You and I need to have another round of your fragrant chai soon 🙂
[All images copyright: An Indian Summer and Aneela Zeb Babar]