Our friend Jairam Acharya, who is an astrologer at Parkala; (he is also the in-house astrologer for ETV and runs a shows with them.) Built a house at Percale, his nephew from Bombay had been every upset that Mamaji did have a big house, with lot of rooms but no bathrooms. Now we were a little amused because each room had an attached bath. For the little kid who came Bombay and was used to cloister spaces the large bathroom appeared like a room with an open bathing/toilet area.
Coming to think of it, before architects and architecture became a fad, the houses on the coast were built with lot of consideration, like the low slant roofing, with a wooden false roof, that would have a particular leaf laid on it, I forgotten which one this kept the rooms cool.
Flooring was red, slate again it kept the floor cool.
Plan of the house was also very interesting usually a square and one entered the house through the Heggilu, , on one side of the hebbaligu would be the Bhavikatte or the well where one could wash the feet before entering the house.
The other areas were
Jagali – or open corridor, but it would be roofed usual pattern was open central courtyard that had medicinal plants, the tulasi, the space for the kids to play, to dry the food it was open and unroofed. Then was level one walking space of course roofed but it was usually treated like a corridor to walk through it was not a personal space, then came the jagali with pillars and that would be the living space.
The Jagali near the Hebbagilu usually served as the official space where outsiders , officials would interact. Any food or drink to be served there would be impersonal and served by the service staff.
Rest of the jagali’s were open and people walked in and out, this is lack of being cloistered is probably what makes the woman from southern India more social and less oppressed than her northern counterpart. The farm hands, the domestic help came to this courtyard so did the younger women seeking the wisdom of the older ladies, young men who had to be advised it was a more personal space,
Most houses had an easy-chair, and an arm chair not to mention a desk. In this space.
Parallel to this was the padsale (the nomenclature could be wrong it is ages since I used these) which was enclosed a place of privacy where people changed, after a bath the cupboards would be kept here; it was the place where newlyweds slept.
Then there was the bananthikone or a nearly dark room where someone who had just give birth would be housed. The Kottige, the Hatti these were various spaces.
The feel was we were part of nature, and the vast universe the feeling is amazing. Unfortunately we never appreciated it then.
Somewhere in 1950-60 I think compartmentalized home became a common theme, I remember some traditional homes redesigning stuff, the standard, central hall, dinning bed room one and two to the left, kitchen and master bedroom to the right became the staple. 1980 brought the concept of rooms flowing into one another.
Suddenly I see the re-emergence of the multi-utility spaces, https://housing.com in a newsletter from only they call it open-plan homes now. Incidentally Goodearth (: www.goodearth.org.in ) is introducing Malhar patterns an eco-village with open-plan housing, if I were to evaluate those homes, to the compartmentalized flat I live in today,
- On one hand I can visually connect living spaces in decor and aesthetics a great thing for a visual artist like me, but it is a war zone, since my family leaves a trail of destruction in every room they touch.
- There are areas to hang art work, particularly the appliqué screen work I do, put plants to create spaces, but having to decide how much to keep and what to keep is a challenge.
- When we grew up we would be left in the central courtyard a great place for us to play, it was open and lot of people keeping an eye, without mothers having to micro manage. Open plan houses replicate this space. A safe play area for kids within the parent’s vision without intruding.
- Since the spaces were open we had lot of natural light, and breeze, we did not really bother with lighting the lamps or turning on the lights until late in the evening. At Malhar Patterns they have brought out this effect by doing away with non-load bearing walls.
- The nicest part of those old homes was the kitchen view and the eating area, since the kitchen opened into the Jamal we sat at the jagli to eat and grandma would be cooking and conversing with us those who finished eating would throw away the banana leaf to the cows and clean up the eating space but they would continue sitting there to do whatever work they had do, albeit even homework. In contemporary time, a kitchen overlooking the dining and living spaces would mean more space when we entertain, otherwise less family time hogged by the television.
It is not that this great open courtyard life was all honky dory, I hated the lack of privacy, the loud conversations between Grandma and Bhaggi used to the irritating, when the television arrived, I had no place to hide, and now with the mobiles it is a din!!
When it comes to entertaining I rather my guests did not see my dirty sink, and messy kitchen table all of which I can hide if there was a door.
Home floor plans have come a long way, and open floor plans I guess again depends on our lifestyle and priority, or maybe children growing up with open floor plans will turn out intrinsically learn to keep their space tidy and organized.
What is interesting is mobile technology and Knowledge work is allowing for the emergence of open plan-offices. There mixes of cubicles, workstations, private offices and co-workspaces and god knows what, our familiar jargon of Jagli and pasale is replaced by terms like Hoteling , alternate officing and Hotdesking.
images courtesy Google images.