On a hot summer day of 27th August, Mohit (who made the house video) and I happened to visit the serene residence of Miss Priti Bali and her cheerful daughter Aashita. There was an air of absolute calm filling every corner of their 3 BHK apartment spread across 1,740 square feet, at Dwarka in Delhi.
When I think of a Zen Indian home, I think of authentic elements picked up from nature, minimalism, abstract decor, slightly elevated furniture or floor seating arrangements, huge windows, candles and lamps like The Home of the Bali’s. A space, where as soon you step in, you feel good, and the kind that calms every single nerve of your body.
“Be the Light.” This saying holds true for Ms Bali and her daughter. The purity of their heart and soul shines through every little element in their house. It is almost magical how true that is.
Watch this beautiful short video giving away a glimpse of the life and the home of the Bali’s.
“We were in Kuwait when my father-in-law took seriously ill so we had to come back to India. We had a sprawling space back in Kuwait and so, we wanted a similar property with open spaces because we had a lot of stuff when we came from the Middle East. We got this house in 2001. The area was good, not claustrophobic. When we saw this apartment, we fell for it at first sight. I am connected to nature, and love earthy colours. I am also fond of flowers, plants and travelling that reflects through the interior of our house.”
The interiors comprise of a subdued palette — tones of beige, wooden hues, hint of gold — a classy and contemporary style which has been mastered by Ms Bali who likes to sustain a fresh and lively feel at her place. “Don’t we change our clothes everyday? The same goes for your home. In every 15 days or so, you’d see that the colours have changed, the linen and the arrangements have changed. I feel that doing so gives that fresh appeal to the house and the interest remains intact.”
“I have a huge collections of curios. If I display all of them at one go, my house is going to look like a museum. So I keep changing. Whenever I am bored, I replace everything. We travel a lot and I keep collecting whatever pleases my heart and soul. Last summer we were in Bhutan where we picked up a few vases and the seven signs of Buddha that embellishes the walls of my drawing space.”
“I am a big foodie. My daughter tells me that I live to eat, cook and feed. I own school cafeterias where I cook in my style. Once I get back home, we don’t prefer the regular food, we like to experiment — cook up something new and interesting. When I am cooking, I like to accompany it with good music — Aashita interrupts — she cooks, I eat and I praise her that’s all we do. We don’t cook together.
The secret of being a good cook is to cook happily. I find my house very comfortable because my kitchen is set up the way I want it to be — my equipments, my knives — everything is placed in harmony — it’s convenient. My husband was a livewire. He could party every night. He loved throwing them because he was a hotel guy. He had this wonderful collection of wine glasses and then there is also my collection of bowls, crockery and cutlery is stored in these cabinets.”
“I couldn’t have asked for more. I lost my husband a few years back so the support and the strength I needed came from her. My participation in Masterchef India this season wouldn’t have been possible without her. She is the one who got me registered and pushed me to do something for myself, since I had spent enough time doing things for others. It has to be the best relationship I have had.” Ms Bali is overwhelmed as she reflects upon her intimate relationship with her daughter.
When asked about where she derived inspiration for her room decor, Aashita says, “I love pink and purple, that is all that reflects the girly side of me I guess. The rest of it comes from the fact that I am totally into music. I play the guitar; and I have been learning the synth since the past 8 years now. It inspires me. This may sound a little philosophical but music drives me towards peace. It makes me feel good about myself and the world and it actually helps me bond with my friends better because we end up discussing music most of the time. Be it Michael Jackson or Bob Marley — my room is all about music, me and peace.”
“There was a point in time when there were more than five people living here but now it’s just the two of us. We have evolved with this house. Our relationship has strengthened over the period of time so it describes us and our lives. It has been there for us and we have been there for each other. My mother has been a pillar of strength and supportive throughout.”
Ms. Bali’s bedroom is a cozy space with a long wall window, a beautiful framed picture of her daughter, an earthy, walnut-pecan cabinet, flowers, a mirror and very simple but chic furniture.
The bath was, I must say, fancy like royalty. Spic and span with a fusion of colours and muted tones — the big bunch of artificial flowers, the mirror imparting an illusion of a bigger space and all things a girl would need, stacked beautifully.
“I have gone through a lot of tough times in my life. In a span of two years, I lost both my in-laws and my husband. My daughter was hardly 12 then. It was the toughest phase of my life. We had a lot of happy memories together, infact extremely happy. A lot of positivity surrounded this house but those few 2–3 years changed everything. I had to gather myself and live for my daughter because she had a long life ahead. I was spiritually inclined to Sai Baba and slowly he became everything for me. Talking and discussing my problems with him made me develop a strong connection with him. Every time I talk to him about any problem, it gets sorted.
Infact, the Masterchef people said that I was the first Delhiite who seemed so calm. I have a room dedicated to my God. I read all kinds of books there and talk to him. I don’t have any chairs or stools there, I prefer a floor seating arrangement. I enjoy these moments with him, it is very relaxing and gives me a lot of energy and prepares me for the rest of the day.”