I know I had disappeared from the blogland for a few weeks but don’t worry, I am back again with a promised home tour of the month. Chandra and Siddhartha Kargupta, the proud owners of the home are allowing us to take a peek inside their home which is a true reflection of India in London.
Let me first introduce Chandra to you. She is north Indian classical and semi-classical vocalist and she also manages Wimbledon Library in London. When she shared a link to her website with me and told me about her passion for music and home decor, I knew that I am getting to know an extraordinary person.
I clicked the link she shared right away and would you believe that I listened to the Indian classical music for the first time and I am glad that I did. I spent a good amount of time listening to Indian classical songs sung by Chandra. Among Dadra-Ghiri ghiri ayee, Bhairavi, Thumari and Pilu, Thumari has become my favorite. I could sense the presence of goddess Saraswati in Chandra’s voice. If you dear readers wish to listen to the classical songs sung by Chandra then here is the link for you www.chandrachakraborty.info
Here is a tete-a-tete with Chandra as she shows us thoughtfully curated corner of her home and tells us the stories behind every object and a heart touching story of her marriage.
Describe your home in just a few words:
Chandra: “Home is where the art is.”
I meditate and practice my music in the morning and you can smell the lovely incense as soon as you enter. Visitors always say that they feel very relaxed at my house. I travel a lot for my concerts and collect items directly from handicraft workers. Rino, Tom and Jerry’s unconditional love takes the whole day’s stress away as soon as we walk in through the door. We love our home.
Whether your house is an apartment or a villa:
Chandra: It is a detached house with 4 bedrooms.
Tell us about yourself, your family and location:
Chandra: We are originally from Kolkata. I was like an adopted daughter of great Indian Classical Music maestro Pt A Kanan and Smt. Malabika Kanan and was a research scholar at Kolkata Sangeet Research Academy since I was 12 years old. Guruma arranged my marriage at the early age of 18 with Siddhartha, who was also like their son. When we got married, Sid was only 23. However, Guruma Smt Malabika Kanan was in support of an early marriage and thought if I get married to someone else, then my music may be ruined but because Sid was also a music lover, sings extremely well and considered Guruji and Ma as his second parent, getting married to him would be ideal. I and Siddhartha basically grew up together and supported each other in every stage of life and I don’t regret getting married so early. There is an age difference of 19 years between me and my son so I enjoy being his mother (when required) and being his best friend. After marriage, I continued with my study as well as music and used to go to guruji’s house every morning and come back at night. We moved to Johannesburg in 1996 due to Sid’s work and I also started working there as the principle vocal teacher of the Indian Consulate and later joined Witwatersrand University as a lecturer of music. We moved to London in 2000 and currently British Citizen. We live in Sutton, Surrey. 20 min drive from Wimbledon. Our son Srimanta has just completed his graduation from the University Of London. He is a British Champion in Kung Fu. We also have 3 four legged children- Rino (Labrador), Tom and Jerry (Cavalapso twins), two large cages of Canaries, budgies and finches, two Degus ( they are a mix of Guinea pigs and rats) and a tank full of gold fishes. Some of the birds are born in the house. They fly around us when we are at home and go back to their cage at night.
What’s your decorating style:
Chandra: I love artwork and I am really passionate about handicrafts. Whenever I visit India, I travel to rural areas and collect decorative items for my house. I have collected so many items that I change the decoration every now and then and place different items every time. We never feel bored because after every few months the house looks completely different.
The decorating style is also influenced by Feng Shui. I have been practicing this ancient Chinese Vastu for the last 20 years and according to the natal chart of the year, every year things need to move around from one side to another anyway.
My house is decorated with inexpensive things, mostly handicrafts from rural parts of India and Africa. I try to find cheap things from the local market and decorate those with my own paintings to give a different look. As an example, the white lampshade in the corner of the dining room is from a local street market (only £4), then I painted Rajasthani style horses and elephants on it. Everyone keeps on asking where did I get that from and this is what my idea about home décor is- “home is where art is”!
The entrance – The golden Feng shui Laughing Budda, I collected this from a street market in Mozambique while I was touring for concerts. When we moved from Jo Burg to London, this Buddha was placed in a large cardboard box with several other home décor items. When the container arrived after a month by ship and I opened the boxes, I was actually shocked that the more hardy items placed in the same box were either a little bit broken here and there and some were completely smashed but the Buddha was intact without a single scratch!
This one shows the walls at the entrance hallway. I have done some warli painting and you can see the picture of our traditional Bengali wedding here.
In the living room– A wall and a table inside the living room with my Ganesha collection.
The coffee table is my most favourite. When we moved to Jo Burg, we didn’t have much money as that was a very early stage of our career! We were in a rented apartment and could only buy a small dinner table with a few minimum furniture. The legs of the table broke while shifting our stuff to London but my son loved this table so much that I couldn’t throw the glass top, thought I might use it one day! A year before last, I was visiting my grandparents’ house that is far away from Kolkata in a rural area. While walking through the village, I saw a lady cooking rice in a clay pot. I had an idea and collected a few of those pots from a local street market. Placed those pots under the glass top to make my own little centre table. I also love my collection of Ganesha on the table as well as on the wall in this room.
In the kitchen- Silver ‘paan daan’ set is my absolute favorite and I also love my wooden spoons from Africa. I love to paint on different materials. I painted Jamini Roy’s horses on one of the kitchen walls.
This is my favourite spot where I have a brass spoon on the wall, my own painting of horses and a paper pulp Ganesha. While cooking, at times I sit here to relax.
Clay dolls from Bengal, Rajasthani dolls, another of my porcelain dolls, the corner table in the dining room- you can see a red sindoor daan here that is used in Bengal when we get married, my painting of a peacock on the wall and some more clay dolls from Bengal.
Where do you get the inspiration from:
Chandra: My mother Manju Chakraborty loves to decorate the house. She has always been my inspiration. I also read a lot of books on home decoration and visit the blogs almost every day to get new ideas.
Which is your favourite spot in your home and why:
Chandra: There are so many! But if I have to mention only one, then it is in front of the bronze Ganesha in the living room, next to the center table. I practice my music here.
What are your hobbies:
Chandra: Although I work full-time as a Manager of Wimbledon Library, my main profession is singing. I paint, make porcelain dolls and statues with marble stone powder too. My husband Dr. Siddhartha Kargupta is a computer scientist turned entrepreneur but he is also an excellent singer. He doesn’t do it professionally, though. Our Son Srimanta is a good painter and a photographer, plays guitar and he is also a good writer. He has won several awards including Mary McPherson award for fiction writing.
Please give your valuable advice to décor enthusiast 3D readers:
Chandra: Do read blogs and books on home décor to get ideas but while decorating your house, have one item in each room that is your own idea and not copied from somewhere else. You will always feel proud.
Here is an image of Chandra’s garden where she entertains guests and enjoys her time with family.
Chandra’s home is a treasure chest of all things Indian and truly reflects her vivacious personality. She had sent me lots of images and I thought I would make a beautiful video tour of her home but due to time constraint I would be doing that later. Thank you Chandra and Siddharth for sharing lovely images of your beautiful abode with 3D readers. We wish you love, luck & sunshine!!
Dear readers hope you all enjoyed this home. For more such lovely home tours click here.
One more home tour is lined up for this month so stay tuned!!