Connect the dots

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chettinar Cribs

1) Make a fortune as a banker or overseas trader in the big city.  
2) Spend it all on a country mansion complete with Burmese teak, turn of the century cement tiles, Italian marble, and Belgian chandeliers.

These are the Chettiars, an interrelated community in Tamil Nadu, whose enormous homes are dotted throughout the dry landscape. We even stayed in the living mansion of Mr. Chandramouli in Kanadukathan. But this wasn't the sole mansion in the tiny town. There are no less than 26 of these! Not only are the homes exquisite but the Chettinad cuisine is mouthwatering, a bit of northern flavors (curries and meat!) mixed with southern rice based starches like appams (lacy rice pancakes) and idiyappams (rice noodles). Great food, gorgeous homes. But staying in these extravagant homes is not cheap. (Had it not had a mansion price tag, we would have stayed longer.)

Welcome home. Cribs a la Chettinad.




Tiles, tiles, tiles...

Don't get me started with the tiles. I'm a huge fan of turn of the century cement tiles, sometimes called encaustic tiles (similar looking but a totally different process). For those who have been in our house, they are those lovely blue and grey tiles in our kitchen. In the town of Athangudi, we were able to see them manufacturing each one of these by hand. Alex was so mesmerized by the process, she didn't want to leave.

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