The house that Yahel built

Jun 11, 2012, 07:47 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

>> For the last few weeks some of the choicest Boho-Bohemians around the world from Ibiza to Istanbul have been receiving exquisite pictures of Goa-based sculptor Yahel Chirinian's new studio and home.

>> For the last few weeks some of the choicest Boho-Bohemians around the world from Ibiza to Istanbul have been receiving exquisite pictures of Goa-based sculptor Yahel Chirinian’s new studio and home. Well, this diarist is happy to announce that we are one of the first people to have visited it. Nestled in a crevice of the Arpora Hill, made famous by bobo king and queen Harry and Claudia and their legendary Nilaya hotel, Yahel's new studio and home comes with its own rich Goa history. “Many years ago,” Yahel says as we sip our afternoon cocktail and she paces up and down her long verandah, “a ’ippy who was Bouchon (Bu-shon?) ’e used to stay in zis ’om and it was a ’appy home, very good people, dacon? Then another gentleman Phillipe ’e rents zis ’om and many ’appy Sunday brunches ’e throws. Voila! An I am looking for a place. An not finding any thing. An then I see this place. An I like it, non? An I get so many letters from all over zee world ‘you got Bouchon (Bu-shon?) ’om? You see it has ’appy vibes. Non?” The studio cum home is a long low laterite home, with a tiled roof slouching the way a Left bank artist’s beret would and we are happy to say it has absolutely no logic whatsoever.

Yahel Chirinian working at her studio at home in Goa

The kitchen knocks up against the guestroom, which leads to the storeroom, and in the middle of it all is a bathroom and beyond all is The Studio. But what the place has are some absolutely extraordinary examples of Yahel’s art: fantastic mosaic boulders that hang from the roof like Dinosaur’s eggs. Mosaic trees from a petrified forest the kind that Hansel and Gretchen saw on their magic mushroom night. A universe of mosaic owls and Buddha heads and paintings that Chagall would have painted if he’d lived in Arpora and drank cranberry juice vodka and Red Bull. There is so much beauty and surprise in Yahel’s studio that one can be staggered. It speaks of endless hours of arduous work, of burning the midnight incense candle, of the lack of sleep. Yahel is working towards a major exhibition in one of Bangkok’s leading art galleries, another in Geneva, there’s talk of collaboration with one of Europe’s premier set designers, an installation done for a Versace niece, and many other exciting new projects on the cards.

About her recent burst of creative energy she says, “You only start to touch when you don’t try to seduce. For the first time I worked only to please myself. I live in a bubble, I don’t socialise, and I don’t know what’s au courant in the rest of the world, which is why,” she says pointing to the abundance of beauty around us “my work is true to myself.” Yahel, the daughter of Tunisian Jewish and Lebanese-American ancestry spent a major part of her youth in Jor Bagh, New Delhi, the result of an enduring friendship with an Indian diplomat family — the Sharmas. “When the rest of my friends were learning about Ibiza I was in India,” she says breaking out in to a toothy grin. “Another thing. Before I came to India I used to paint colours, dakon? But ‘ow can I? Your country is a festival of colours. How can I compete? So I began to do mosaic glass creations that reflected the colours around them. Si? My owls, my trees, my Buddha heads are a ‘omage to what’s around me.” And then the interview is over and Yahel returns to complete a mosaic table she is working on — a jigsaw of film posters and glass, and I put away my pen, collect my belongings (and wits) and walk away from the beautiful ’om with the ’appy vibes.

Delhi Belly vs Mumbai guts
>> For all those Mumbaikars who despair that their claims on Goa have been usurped by the Delhi dominion on the seaside state, here’s some relief. We have encountered many veiled references to the somewhat chilly vibes between the locals and the Capitalists who have moved in with their haciendas, their Beemers and their maids and are carving up the countryside in their image. The owner of a local bar requested that we keep his establishment a secret from ‘Delhi people’ as the sleepy and much cherished flavour of the place would be eroded if they’d come. And when buying swimwear a Mumbai couple were asked if they required a ‘Delhi-fit or a Mumbai fit’. Apparently, the Delhi fit is larger around the stomach and hips. Delhi belly any one?

Sorpotel and Sausages in Saipem
>>  Lloyd Ciprian Braganza (36), from an old Goan family that owned one of the beautiful mansions in Saipem began working at a restaurant in Baga at the age of 21. “It was called Chopsticks’ and I ran it in partnership with a chef from China garden. I did that for two years and then for seven years I ran Lloyd’s in a garage in Candolim,” he says. An understatement of huge proportions if there were any.

Lloyd’s, on the main road in Candolim opposite the salon Snip, was one of Goa’s most cherished institutions. A napkin-sized hothouse from which some of the state’s most lip smacking treats: pork chops basted to perfection in Lloyd’s home made sauces, barbequed sausages that tasted of wild masalas and untamed earth, sorpotel and xaccuttis cooked by his mother Celia and sent each afternoon from the family kitchen and the unmatched Lloyd Beef Chilly fry and tenderloin steak.

Lloyd Ciprian Braganza and his hotel Lloyd’s

It was bliss: dark, smoky, the cars whizzing past you, a hair’s breath away and every thing ran out before guests went home. But then last year, perhaps tiring a bit from all that ad hoc brilliance, Lloyd moved the grill, the pots and pans back home and set up the brand new Lloyd’s in his very own garden — a 100 seater part al-fresco restaurant crisscrossed with fairy lights and facing a stately old Goan mansion painted buttercup yellow. Lloyd runs this with his lovely wife Nerrisa and since its launch last September it’s been running to packed audiences and the applause of satisfied customers. And in these gentrified settings do his clients miss the old garage with its hiss and flash in the pan street cred? “Yes some of them complained when we moved, but when they come here they all tell m, ‘we understand why you moved’,” he told us. 

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