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26.07.2016

Art collectors sit on church pews, prey on antiques and watch short films about indigenous handicrafts.

It’s not a good time to be a have-not, you will realise as you walk through Saanchi, a new antique shop inside a yellow manor, replete with indoor ponds, tinkling fountain, stained glass windows and balustrade grills studded with figures of Indian gods and goddesses. Hey, bhagwan!

Wear your walking shoes to explore a basement, three floors and a terrace stocked with furniture and other home accents. You could even find a Pokémon on the ceiling, spinning around a plantation-estate fan or swinging off a gulabi-pink-fading-into-sky-blue glass chandelier.

When you’re fatigued, lounge a while on a grand Opium Bed, linger on art deco sofa sets or check yourself out in a mirror framed by a border fit for Mendl’s cake. If you want to discover little gems in little nooks, follow owner and antique collector Parwathi Mirlay to the display of clay figurines and Marapachi sandalwood doll couples decked for a wedding party.

Great Expectations

Saanchi also boasts a small museum - here, we wanted to house things that were special and not for sale” – a Dickens’ Corner stocked with a library of first editions and Studio 5 where short films about art are shown. “We also host monthly talks by historians and collectors at Among The Treetops, our terrace,” Parwathi says. At the first talk, Mrs. Ranee Pothan, a 96-year-old resident of Langford Town brought her personal collection of heirlooms - the original design for a puttu-maker, a bamboo stem tied with coir threads; coins from the Nizam of Hyderabad; and a superbly preserved, tiny, hand embroidered wedding dress that belonged to her mother, who was a teen bride.

Balcony Tickets

It might take you a whole month’s time and salary to go through the inventory at Saanchi, but you could make an impulsive buy if you check the attic alcove, which displays products on the lower end of the price spectrum. Bits and bobs like enamel soap dishes, pillar heads repurposed as bookends, betel nutcrackers, a duck-shaped case with secret compartments.

And after your musty meander, get some air on one of the balconies, from where you can wave at Langford Town’s antique residents sweetly minding their manors.

Getting there: Saanchi, 5, Setlur Street, Langford Town, call 22270550, Rs 1000 for a porcelain lampshade , Rs 10 lakhs for the opium bed.

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