Art collector and dealer Bomti Iyengar’s Chowringhee lane apartment on the third floor of a century-old colonial building that once housed Asia’s largest departmental store, Whiteways Laidlaw & Co is steeped in the city’s colonial past. “These flats were originally occupied by high-ranking officers of the store. We moved in in the 70s,” says Iyengar, 56, who has brilliantly preserved the old-world charm of this 3,500-square-feet apartment.
MF Husain, SH Raza and KG Subramanyan share the cream walls with Jamini Roy, Paritosh Sen and Sunil Das. A particularly natty piece of furniture is an antique Burma teak sideboard well over a century old, with lion-paw legs that look uncannily real. The base for the glasstopped coffee-table at the centre of the lounge area has been carved out of one section of a three piece, billiard table. “My grandmother inherited one portion of the billiards table, while the remaining two went to her sisters,” says Iyengar.
Iyengar has a remarkable inventory of collectibles and artsy artefacts—prized possessions include the surviving pieces of an antique Tsutsumi coffee set that was a part of Iyengar’s grandmother’s wedding trousseau, a three-piece sculpture by sculptor Jiban Doloi picked up by Iyengar’s mother on a trip to Shantiniketan, a bronze horse chariot from Greece and a classic silver cigarette box from the iconic Hamilton & Co that still sits on the centre table.