Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Down but not dirty.

The relative quite  on my desk lately in spite of the enthusiastically penned mission statement earlier, is mostly due to a home project underway at frenzied pace. Yes, am preparing to move yet again... ! Luckily  the move is just to another apartment within the same city.  As the space takes shape over the next few weeks, there will be more to share  until then,  here is a post about ideas. 

Have been engrossed in all manner of things. Floors, flea markets, furniture, paint and the like.
Today's post is going to be about an aspect of home dressing that I never really paid too much heed to until a few weeks ago when rotten parquet became a bone of contention. Three floorings needed to be ripped and relaid.  The humble grounds beneath our feet indeed, only somehow they end up making or  breaking spaces completely.

I grew up in a house  with wildly coloured, wildly patterned mosaic tiles.  My grandfather designed  these himself.  I remember watching him supervise the laying under his strict gaze. This was in the early seventies.  Dadaji, had spent his youth in a Bombay in the throes of art deco craze.  Only  later when I moved to the city myself and saw things up close did it become clear  to me where his love for elaborate mosaic tiles and checkerboard floors came from!

Mumbai or elsewhere, go looking for floors and you will come across a barrage of jargon,  Moroccan, Italian, marble, heritage, Athanguddi, Azulejos, stone, ceramic, sandstone, composite, Jaipur, chevron, mosaic, terrazzo, painted, inverlochy. There is just too much to choose from.

Having lost much sleep over a wide range of choices,  I finally know what I am going to do with the rotten parquet.. It is impossible to list my entire reference file here, but will share ideas and inspirations I have picked up along the way in today's post.  I don't have particularly  pretty pictures of floors  tiles and the like, for those you need to head to pinterest, which is rife with stunning effects! These are mostly humble records I made with my iPhone for my reference, while scouring the markets and else where.

Hopefully  with the final finished product which will make a future post and this one, it will be possible to piece together a picture of how exactly the ideas translated to actual floors.

A final word about the inspiration :  The choices I made rest on three different factors, first- the relatively tiny budget, second- somehow ideas registered from travels or surfing the net etc muscled their way in (not just on the floors but rampantly and randomly in other corners too ! More about that later though ) Finally, from in and around Mumbai- my forever Muse!! 

Starting with the city it self. I  am taken by old Mumbai  Heritage floors....

Encaustic tiles in an old Mumbai building

Visit any old Mumbai building and you  are sure to notice the  'Mintons'. Richly patterned, startlingly  coloured and beautifully weathered encaustic cement tiles imported to the erst while Bombay Presidency by Liverpool based Minton's Ltd.
In production since the 12th century when  Cisterician Monks in England  hand made  them to pave  floors of European churches and monasteries- the art vanished a few 100 years down the road.  During the 1830s  several British firms  attempted to revive  the medieval art, one of the most successful  being Herbert Minton.
Most old buildings in Fort and neighbouring areas in Mumbai boast these striking tiles from bygone times..  
These are cement tiles in which the pattern or figure on the surface is not a product of the glaze but of different colors of clay. A tile may be composed of as many as six colours. The pattern is inlaid into the body of the tile, so that the design remains as the tile is worn down. These may be gazed or unglazed and the inlay may be shallow  as an eight of an inch, or as deep as  a quarter inch.

Recently restored tiles on stairs, gallery and corner,  Mumbai.

In  the initial years of  the British colonial period, the  tiles would be imported from England. Until they started to be manufactured locally in the early 1920s. They remained in manufacture until the 1940s. In the recent years,  a few tile makers based in Mumbai and elsewhere have  revived the old style of floorings.

Minton tiles on the landing of the grand staircase of a Museum in Mumbai.

Layers of vinyl peel exposing the  striking original Minton  floor in a crumbling building in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai.

Then there are good ol'  Ceramic tiles ...

Reference  image taken at a tile shop in Fort, Mumbai

Brightly colored, readily available and easy to lay. Add to it, the wide range of tiles and makes to choose from to suit all manner of tastes and decor.
 I chanced upon a stash of these old furniture tiles from Gujarat at a local flea market the other day.. (picture below). I have no idea about their vintage, make and  style etc.. From the look of it, they look like Portuguese inspired, the kind I have spotted in many a old Mumbai buildings. Do enlighten me if you have any idea about these.  

Hand glazed furniture tiles, from a flea market, Mumbai
I am not quite sure about where these will go in the house at this stage.

Finally  getting back to my childhood home, I would like to do a spin on the traditional chequered black  and white with a Chevron pattern floor somewhere in the house..

 Wide V's of the Chevron  on the floor of a Colaba restaurant, Mumbai

Vibrant, contrasting patterns from a heritage hotel in Rajasthan.

Old chequered floor  in an old Mumbai building.

Friday, January 11, 2013


In February this year, I would have completed five years of blogging. Each year around this time, I'd think about the blog with an intention of evaluating the space and my motivations. What does it mean to blog? Why a blog? why about homes? Whose home? Mine? Others- These and  other questions I did not articulate to myself very well in the beginning.
What to say?  How to say?  Will there be stuff to talk about all the time? will people read?

Each  time I tried to pin down the answers,  other important distractions veered me off  course.  Only this year, I am going to do it!
Before January gets by and this baby is already  Februaryish ripe and passing.  Here is the first post of the year. A little late perhaps but  other things have been kept waiting. Hopefully there will be  lots of posts  and much to share in the successive months of 2013, but it all begins with this mission statement of sorts.

When I started, this is all I could think the blog was going to be about :

"Inside. homes. life. kitchen. photography. stories. outside. journeys. travel. meandering. constructions-deconstructions."

Random. Just a broad list of topics. "Kitchen capers" ?!! did I really say that?  Does it get more superficial than that ?
--When with the benefit of hindsight, I can already say that what has come off the journey has been anything but!.

With a little more thought, here is what it is:
A document about home- mine and others I encounter. Home as a shelter that houses, families, people, hopes, dreams, aspirations. The aesthetics and practical matters that go into making it home.  
Not so much life as ways of living- the cultural, aesthetic and art of living. That would include traditions, cultures,  arts and crafts.

Why people build? how they build? Cities that are threaded together by many homes, buildings, structures, and spaces in general. And because  the private and public are interconnected,  markets, bazaars, gardens, museums- pretty much wherever serendipity leads. So journeys near and far.

The past and  the present. Histories, traditions that ought to inform and empower.
All of that and also kitchen capers...;)  and other capers of  sane and insane variety is what this blog is all about..!

As for the psychology,  dramas, laughter, blood, tears and dreams that also go into making homes, will leave most of that out, most of the time :) -   that makes the girl in the girlabouthome a bit of a nonentity.. but its better that way.

About me?  I am a drifter. Always running from this and that..Escape with me. If you like a particular escapade, leave me a line, am always up for a conversation... so I will revert no matter what.

Apart from that I am also a photographer and writer. Love cities- my current affair with Mumbai well into the third year.. I do all the things that avid city lovers do- walk around, connect with one neighbourhood or the other regularl, photograph, read and learn something about the place every day.  A lot of my city stories spill on to my other blog : Girlabouttown...

This major task out of my way..promise to be back to the business of updating the blog the fastest I can... If for some reason my wanderings lead me astray for intervals, please bear with me..  Although I tend to go off radars every now and then, I do almost always come back!


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