The picture above is of Adolf Villa, I took this when I was 8 or 9 with a plastic reflex camera with twin plastic lenses, sometime in 1966 or ’67. The building next door (not in the picture) was named the ‘Indian Homeland’. Adolf Villa had plaster lions on both gate posts and the right gate post had a marble plaque with a Swastika, with the name’Adolf Villa’ above it. You can still see the lion on the left gate post.
I have tried to get to the bottom of the mystery of naming the two adjoining buildings Adolf Villa and Indian Homeland without success. I think is both were built before the second world war, or just before India gained independence, by people with opposing points of view.
Adolf Villa had a timber skeleton with brick walls. A beautiful blue and cream colored spiral wooden staircase led to the first floor. Red, green, purple and yellow glass windows surrounded it on two sides. I used to stand on the curved bannister and look out at the street through these magical windows. Even today, 50 years on, I cannot look at stained glass windows without thinking about that staircase.
The spiral staircase sadly ended at the first floor with a red tiled veranda. Here Mr & Mrs Menezes often sat on a simple blue wooden bench looking out at the street. A street where nothing much happened.
Across the street was an open ground where we played field hockey, volley ball, and during the monsoons, when it was mucky and waterlogged, football or ‘soccer’ as it’s fashionably called now.
From the first floor and the Menazes on the bench, the staircase that led to my house was straight and up but it made a U-turn, and the next four or five steps up led to a ‘Saloon gate’; the kind you see in cowboy movies. And our veranda too was as large as a room. Here at different times lived fantail pigeons, Leo and Lucy (my two Dachshunds) and for a brief period, Chunni Bunder (a monkey). Only the cats were free to enter the house.
This too was an observation post, manned by my family members in their free time.
Surveillance can be benign or malign. When done by secret government or private corporations and agencies it creeps me out. I haven’t visited my FB page for almost 2 years.