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Celebrating tradition

Ancient sciences are fast catching up with modern technologies.

This is evident in `Ulsav', a well-planned house owned by M. Somasekharan and Lata Nair. Nair chose to name his house `Ulsav', an acronym for the names of his family members.

"I have planned and designed this house myself," says this former executive director of SPIC, Chennai. As Nair takes you around the house, he describes how he has planned his house based on Vastu Shastra.

"It is very important that the house faces north-east, begins Nair. "The lady of the house should enter the house from the east as this is the way Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth enters," explains Nair.

The master of the house should enter from the northern upperhalf of the building, and this accounts for an extra doorway at the side of the house. The owner should stand at a higher level when he receives a guest, says Nair, pointing to the raised threshold. Each room is at a slightly elevated level, signifying prosperity.

Vastu, an ancient science of Indian origin, involves a wide range of factors, but the Nairs have mainly concentrated on the orientation and direction of the house. According to Nair, the lowest and the highest points of the house should be in the southwest and northeast, respectively. Abiding by the principles of Vastu, the kitchen (agni) is located in the southeast; a water point within the kitchen is in the north east. Conventionally, the pooja room is built on the ground floor, but at Nair's home, the deity finds a higher place in the northeast corner on the top floor.

"I built a raised structure on the terrace to prevent anyone from stepping on top of this room. Interestingly, nothing seems to be oddly structured. Vastu seems to have given the house a logical pattern.Wise use of simple technology takes care of safety and cleanliness. Drainpipes are neatly hidden within granite pillars. Rain water flows through these drain pipes, into soak pits keeping the watertable filled. A tiny room in the backyard houses the gadgets and pressure control cylinders that neutralize the pressure of water at various levels, ensuring constant supply of water.

Biodegradable waste is dumped into a cemented deep pit. The rest of the waste is burned in a cemented chamber. Tiny sockets suck in air, aiding combustion. Smoke is expelled through a tall chimney, reducing pollution. As a safety measure, the gas cylinders are placed in cage like chamber outside the kitchen. The showcase in the living room is flanked by decorated wooden panels. One of these opens onto a tiny room meant for electrical instruments.A pest control device radiates electro-magnetic waves, keeping the house free from insects.

The interiors are no less interesting. Crystal chandeliers, in the shape of shells and droplets, give the house a grand appearance. Some of the things that catch the eye are, the jewel casket converted into a key box, the dazzling array of crystals and gold-plated displays in the showcase, the floor-to-ceiling posters and a collection of scotch bottles in the lounge.

"I've given the archways for the dining and the pooja room a granular finish using Vintex, a water soluble Apoxy paste, says Nair.

The driveway is paved with circular slabs. Each slab is ringed with green grass sprouting from the gaps, forming hexagonal patterns.

Phlox of yellow, pink and violet form circlets around coconut trees.

In all, innovative ideas and good planning is the acronym for Nair's home.

(Want to feature your home in these columns? Please write to Metro Plus, The Hindu, Trivandrum)

SHABINA KHAN

Photos: Decisive Moment

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