When you step into this haven of sorts in the busiest part of the city, it cuts out all the hustle and bustle associated with the area. Labisha Uprety discovers a marble-ous experience as she follows Udita Seksaria Golchha beyond the monstrous white façade that leads into her home.
While giving me directions to her place, Udita Golchha, the youngest of the daughters-in-law of the famed Golchha clan, tells me, ‘It’s the one next to Hotel Sunrise View”. I get out at the said place and peer through my glasses, looking at two houses sitting side by side; both white, large and with brown gates, and a uniformed guard standing outside one. A small black-and-white sign proclaims ‘Hotel Sunrise View’ unhelpfully in the middle. It takes me a while to find the house and am allowed entry, although the paley dai still seems unsure of me and keeps his eyes on the back of my head as I shuffle noisily towards the sprawling white house. Stretches of green grow on either side of the concrete walkway; tame here and there, and crunchy-looking from the sun.
A smattering of cars surrounds the house. A black Volkswagen sits under a white-painted concrete garage. I reach the front door. Ornately carved wood greets me. A sort of peacock-eye hangs twinkling from the upper side. A good luck charm maybe? The front door swings open easy but heavy and you enter into a marbled expanse. Two large carved chairs flank the door on either sides, complete with a coffee table and tiny gurgling fountains. You move in and stop at the stairwell right in the middle of the room and if you raise your eyes straight up, you will realize that it’s a circular staircase curving snake-like up to three levels of comfort and a glass roof overhead.
Udita descends the stairwell, clad in an off-white kurtha, looking homely.She greets me all-smiles and invites me upstairs to her room where hair and make-up people are busy bustling for her shoot. Three flights up and numerous painting-clad walls later, we are there. The walls are a light orange, one of which sports tiny printed block patterns. It is large and spacious; glass windows decorated with short curtains on the opposite side are flanked by connected glass shelves that support aesthetically placed bottles of empty Grey Goose vodka, diamond framed photos of smiles and hugs, some black-and white, some in color, a large black television right in the middle of it all and a smatter of iPods and earphones jammed into little brown boxes.
"Orange is my husband’s favorite color", answers Udita as I ask her about how she styled her living space. ‘I wanted a large space so that the bedroom wouldn’t look too cluttered’, she says explaining the expansion into walk-in closets and powder room stretching from her bedroom. A tower of economic reads lie piled in one corner and you can spot more than one Malcolm Gladwell peeping from under the stack. She laughs when I ask her if she reads a lot of Gladwell and she shakes her head. I was to later find her own pile of good-reads stashed in the shelves of her spacious bath: bundles of old Archie comics preserved in semi-mint condition and dating well before she became a Golchha.
A solid black marble bathroom makes its presence felt as the door adjacent to the glass shelves swings open when Udita Seksaria Golchha makes way into her powder room cum walk-in closet. Stacks of perfumery and body lotions hug the black marble on one side including half-used bottles of The Body Shop and Calvin Klein mists. The right has a gaping bathtub and a glass shower adjacent to it. The feel is powerful; inhabited. A connecting door will take you to her walk-in closet that introduces itself as a makeup station first; with color palettes and more perfumes lining the dressing table. As the day wears on, Golchha will magically produce piles of accessories from the small-looking drawers of the table; after all, every dress demands a twinkling companion.
Udita strides around welcoming us into her space. She then takes a turn and gives us an unblocked view of her immense closet. Piles of dresses, coats and kurthas hang top-down; the bottom shelves all neatly lined with shoes; peep toes, stilettos, flats, boots, kitten heels; you name it. Scrabble and Monopoly are rammed neatly on the top. “The shelves on either sides of the wall are fitted in accordance to the size of the object that they hold,” she explains. Her shoe rack has been made a certain height because that is the size of her highest heels. Talk about customizing!
"All furniture is from Fusion, which incidentally, is my husband’s", she says with a smile. ‘He calls me a shopaholic!’, she iterates, fondly pulling a face. A small pile of pink and white books on one of the hardwood shelves, which is wood made from waste, catches my eye. A number of books from Kinsella’s Shopaholic series is juxtaposed one atop the other; a fitting choice it would seem.
Udita now needs to get ready for her first ever feature shoot and sits back while hair and make-up artists bustle around her, pulling and tucking strands of hair and dabbing orange tint to her lips. I flounder about and discover a mini treasure trove; a wall of tiny shot glasses of every shape, size and color imaginable. I question her about it and she answers with her eyes on me on the mirror that her husband and she have a tradition of sorts collecting shot glasses from every new place they go to. I spot Hong Kong, New York, a windmill that most possibly is from Holland, Chinese characters on brown, one gilded with a coin and countless others adorned with skylines of cities. I ask her in jest if she is much of a drinker and she replies nonchalantly that she can keep her alcohol down like nobody’s business and that it had been years that anyone has seen her crumpled, sounding much like you would expect a Golchha to.
The mother of two is a frequent flier. She haunts Mumbai at least three times a year and admits to shopping for everything abroad. But before you get this idea that Udita Golchha is simply a rich housewife, think again. Udita is the owner and founder of ‘Happy Mamas’, a prenatal and postnatal fitness and nutrition center for women and ‘Parties R Uss’, the ultimate party store. She started with the former venture after she got pregnant and had nowhere to turn to for specialized maternity care; the latter came as an effort to glamorize the little existing party scene in the city, with all party accessories being shipped from Thailand or otherwise. Looking for a Bollywood themed party? Now you know where to go.
We get to moving downstairs for her first shot. She is dressed in a white pantsuit with a net overthrow by Anita Dongre. She stands carefully poised at the foot of the stairs while the light repeatedly flashes off her, illuminating both her and the surrounding marble. A door slightly ajar on the left of the staircase reveals a small mandir, strewn with incense sticks and photos of the Gods. The left side is home to a large TV room, complete with plush sofas and large coffee tables and an electric fireplace. As we move to the TV room for the next round of shots, with Golchha in a deep blue tunic, I notice a number of books on Vastu Shastra and Jainism stacked on a corner. In between breaks of the shot, Udita reveals that the home had been firmly rooted in the principles of Vastu Shastra and that furniture was repeatedly moved around in accordance to the books. She says this however, as someone who can remove themselves from the ideology being revealed as she iterates that she did not really believe in the idea that moving things around changed your luck.
‘Your luck is in your own hands’, she proclaims charmingly enough.
The mandir on the left then is also explained; the Golchhas are a Jain household but Udita, being a practicing Hindu, had brought with herself tokens of her practice when she got married at 21. The house in itself is tolerant of all forms of art, with tokens from South Africa lining corners to predominantly Hindu wall hangings; the icing on the cake being a large abstract painting on the second floor landing by Yusuf Arakkal.
Udita is an interested painter; she uses acrylic for ease but sends her work mostly home to her father along with pottery and art from Bhaktapur. She says she plans to hang her own work on her walls someday but really hasn’t gotten around to it. Small things around the house spell Udita; from the flower arrangements to color selections; she has an eye for the classy. She is trained in Ikebana among other arts which come alive in tiny corners of her home.
The next series of shots has us stepping out over to her gardens. It is almost dawn and orange flecks line grey clouds as Udita steps out in a lovely cream Mango dress. She poses against the sky when an artistically inked dove makes its appearance on her upper back. Beneath all that clothing then lies a free-spirited person. She smiles and the greens behind her seem to stretch further. A tiny stone walkway descends into further greenery; with small patches of land that have been used to grow organic food. Lower down the walkway you go, the more space the plot seems to hold. A large cap shaped metal umbrella provides shade a few feet away. The world outside is curiously absent. You would never think so much was to be had smack in the middle of Kathmandu as we know it.
Back in her home, we pass the spacious dining room on the first floor, with minimal rich brown furniture and an adjacent well-spaced kitchen. The second floor is home to her in-laws and a personal TV room of sorts; all leather sofas and comfy recliners. A large Victorian train clock announces the time from one of the walls. A lazy, homely feel embraces you.
Upstairs, her children’s room is adjacent to her own. Colorful prints line the wall as stuffed toys line up almost every corner. The room is furnished with a large attached bath of its own. Back in her own room, she dresses in green for the final shot in her bedroom when her 8-year-old son comes in from school and teases his mother for her glamorous avatar. She fusses about him as she is readied for the shoot while night descends into her room. The cream brown furnishings reappear as strategically placed yellow lights come to life, giving a sense of uncluttered peace. An oblong Bhaktapuri painting covers one of the walls. Comfort and space is underlined in bold.