~ The Tamarind Tree ~
It was a searing hot May day when I got an email from The Tamarind Tree, inviting me to experience their beautiful property in Bangalore. Having already heard many a complimentary things about them, I was very happy to accept the gracious invitation. And in spite of a ridiculously packed month, I was able to work with the lovely Nishi of The Tamarind Tree, who organized everything so smoothly, for me to visit them in the last week of May.
And what a trip it turned out to be! It began with the warmest of welcomes at The Tamarind Tree, where I got to meet the young team who are now managing the property. You know how there are places that feel like an oasis in the middle of a city and the moment you step into one, you automatically breathe in deep and feel totally relaxed? The Tamarind Tree is exactly like that. It's antique wooden doors shut out the noise of the city as soon as you walk in. As I toured the property, it felt like each pillar, each vessel, every sculpture and every tree had a story to tell. As we sat down for a delicious lunch, I came to know that this beautiful five acres of land used to be a paddy field many decades ago. And then it was a warm home, a home that over the last 22 years built an enviable collection of antiques and artefacts from the South of India. These antiques are now spread over the property and add to the unique charm and character of this place. As the demand for hosting intimate weddings and events at The Tamarind Tree started growing within the circle of family and friends of the home owners, they decided to lease out the venue to the current management, who now expertly manage the property for hosting truly unique weddings. I can't wait to see what comes up next as the new team is very keen to preserve and maintain the current character while bringing in new ideas to allow the venue to host not just weddings but also exclusive cultural evenings and soirees.
The Tamarind Tree takes on a magical hue as night descends. Twinkling fairy lights, diyas, flowers, music and if a wedding ceremony is taking place, then joyous festivities! The Tamarind Tree has hosted many a beautiful weddings with ceremonies from different regions of the country and the world. It is rapidly becoming one of the most sought after venue for couples who are looking for an unique ambiance and a memorable venue. The character of the place, so wonderfully captured by wedding photographers, is as warm and homely as it is fabulous.
~ Basava Ambara ~
My next stop was at Basava Ambara, the splendid boutique located in one of Bangalore's oldest neighborhoods, Basavanagudi. It is run and curated by Aravind Kashyap and Venkataram Reddy, who is also the owner of The Tamarind Tree. Housed in the outhouse of a sprawling heritage home, Basava Ambara has a hand picked collection from a cross section of designers, craftspeople, textile connoisseurs and antiques sourced over the years by Venkataram. Over a healthy lunch of farm fresh salads at The Rouge Elephant, Venky, Aravind and Cynthia - the lovely creative manager at the store, and I chatted about all things creative and beautiful. It's amazing how good food and good conversation can be so engrossing that you don't even notice how much time has passed!
I, of course, couldn't help but go back to the stunning antique jewelry at the store and tried on as many as I could, just a tad short of looking like a Christmas tree. It was with great effort that I took the jewels off and handed them back. But I know where I will be headed when I decide to treat myself to some antique sparkles :)
~ And then some more ~
The rest of the week was spent in a whirlwind of catch-ups - old friends, ex-colleagues, friends-of-friends now turned friends, the many lunches, dinners and drinks, the 12:00am creative brainstorming inspired by the storm outside and the wine inside, the 2:00am gossip/singing/crying/laughing sessions, again inspired by the thunder outside and oh-my-god so much wine inside! I/We hopped bars, all in happy anticipation of an upcoming birthday, experimented with Kokum cocktail recipes one late night at an organic farm, with four large dogs and one tiny cat keeping a watch over us as we downed each of our experiments. Inspite of all the intoxicant induction, I also got more work done; I visited a wonderful textile studio and factory and spent hours selecting fabric. This place is a linen heaven and as much as I would like to shout the name from rooftops, the owner has requested me to keep quiet about it, for now. He is gearing up to open a retail outlet in sometime, and for now, I guess I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend time looking through his fabulous collection and making my pick for the wildlife project that I am working on. And as promised, I live blogged it all people! Shared the goodies over at my instagram account as it happened.
Oh, and the grand finale of the trip was, my first ever football match! Not as a player, peeps, not as a player. The closest I can get to the players is that I can now proudly announce that the coach of the Bengaluru FC team is my friend. Ha. But but, what an exhilarating evening it was! I loved the Bangalore crowd! The chants, the flags, the synchronous abuses hurled at the referee ~ all very very loud but not rowdy, at all! It was such a pleasant surprise for someone from the big bad city of Delhi. And then, to complete the football experience, we headed to the local post-match pub in pouring rain and met up with more friends, celebrating a good game. I was one of the boys, in my blue XS BFC jersey, though I zoned out as soon as the technical football talk started. So the boys very kindly made me feel at home and we argued till late in the night about the North-South divide and staked strong claims on Goa and the Himalayas. An eventful end to a wonderful week, and I have to say Thank You Tamarind Tree for pulling me to Bangalore. I will be back...yet another city that I have come to love, not just for it's places and what it has to offer, but also for all the splendid people I met and the friends I made. And the friends I did not get to meet this time, the readers who invited me to visit them, who sent me tips of what to see, where to eat ~ I'll be seeing you soon!
[Image credits: My Images are tagged such; Other images: 2nd & 5th from top: Manoj Masand; 10th & 11th from top: The Tamarind Tree; 12th from top: Tina Nandi]