Warmth is a quality of the heart. Neeraj Roy and his streams in with dazzling clarity on a cheerful June day. But it's the warmth in their attitude as they dote on the 18-month daughter Kyra and welcome visitors with open hearts that is so refreshing.
We're sure it's because this good looking and successful couple — Neeraj is the CEO of Hungama.com and India FM.com and Raunaq edits Indiawali Brides and Beautiful People — maintain that they are "real people living real lives"!
While we're sure that they, as a consequence, have their good and bad days in equal measure, on the morning that I visit, their cute little daughter Kyra is the centre of attention. Raunaq says, "He's a houseproud dad who doesn't mind changing nappies or clearing up the dining table when it is needed."
"We stay in a building where the neighbours are considerate and non-interfering and where there are large lawns and swings for Kyra to play freely," says Neeraj. This was his bachelor pad, bought when he commenced his start-up Hungama.com during the dotcom boom.
Theirs was a whirlwind tale of romance and idyllic love. Bumping into each other first at a speakers' forum organised by Ogaan publications, it developed into a consuming friendship which after several months of dating ended in marriage.
Now they are parents and as Neeraj puts it "We are still trying to cope with the numerous role changes we have undergone in a relatively short time — from friends to lovers to husband-wife and now parents!"
Their house in Juhu is to all appearances, all about a woman's soft touch neutralising the austerity of a former singleton's space. Small and cosy, the two bedroom apartment is done up primarily in black and white, with room for groups of no more than five people at one time! Though the Roy's are social people ("We are astrologically both Leos"), they don't like being crowded in either by people or by objects.
The objets d'art are few and carefully selected — an ornate silver vase in one spot, few aromatic candles in another, a golf statuette in the third — all with lots of space between them. In fact, it is to all purposes as close approach to minimalistic décor as is possible.
"The important element in this house is the profusion of natural light that comes into each room," says Raunaq peering out of the palm-fringed windows. Little touches in the house add a sparkle of their own.
An oversize Japanese fan over the dining table that Neeraj picked up from his travels to that country; flowers in the form of gomphorinas, Illiums, Bird of Paradise, a horseshoe with a cow bell both picked up in Switzerland; an antique suitcase in the living room that has come down from Raunaq's grandmother.
The contrast between black and white is immediate — crisp white walls and a white marble floor interrupted by jet black sofas that give one the illusion of being on a chessboard.
Here's a non fussy, clean décor with straight lines, by and large. And yet the owners exhibit warm and friendly personalities — they are indeed the Sunshine Leos!
1) Here's Raunaq's set of prized Charles Dickens' books that date back to WW II. There's a little story about them that Raunaq likes to tell. Apparently she spotted them at a furniture store in Bandra and promptly fell in love with them.
Though she couldn't afford them on the spot, she went home and told everyone about them — and also about how she was planning to buy them in a few days time. A few days later when she went to the store they had disappeared - sold out, it seemed!
Sorely disappointed, she cursed herself for not picking them up sooner. A week later Raunaq's dad came to her housewarming party with the books in hand - he had bought them as a surprise gift for her! Get antique editions of classics at the New and Second-Hand Bookshop on Ph: 2201 3314
2) Also in the living room is the extremely well-stocked drinks bar that houses Neeraj's single malts and brandies. Originally a cupboard, it's been converted into a bar and now serves as a reservoir for the Roys' many social evenings spent in the company of friends.
Also stored are drinks glasses and bar accessories and a couple of wines for the picky Raunaq. Above the bar is a shelf that stores the collection of antique Charles Dickens' classics that date back to the WW II era.
Have cutting edge drinks bars custom made from Colonial Collections at Ph: 2209 0129.
3) This longitudinal section of the living rooms showcases the black-n-white décor of the house and the fact that the Roys' objets d'art are few and placed far apart. A silver vase from Raunaq's grandmother is one of the couple's most treasured possessions and sits high up on the wall.
Around it are gathered, at a distance, a golf statuette that represents Neeraj's passion for the sport ("I would play six days a week before I got married. Now it's once a month or so."), a glass bowl and wax candles from Pallate the furniture store.
The sofa chairs in corduroy black are set off by the silk white cushions while at one corner plants in the form of dried Bird of Paradise wink in brown and red shades. Order contemporary sofas in corduroy from Colonial Collections at Ph: 2209 0129. Get Bird of Paradise flowers from Taj Mahal Hotel and Tower Florists at 5665 3200.
4) This dining room was originally the place for Neeraj's study table and computer during his bachelor days. Raunaq has converted it into a cute 4-seater for mealtimes in the little alcove between the living room and the bedrooms. The black-n-white Japanese fan on the wall above was picked up by Neeraj during his travels to the land of the Rising Sun.
That the fan goes well with the black-n-white colour scheme of the rest of the house was one of the major reasons for its procurement, reveals the wife. The light above the table comes with a dimmer in order to alter the ambience according to the mood. "My husband likes a well-lit up table," affirms Raunaq. Get dining tables like this one custom made from Pallate at Ph: 2498 3575. Get light options like this one from Kapoor Lamp Shades at Ph: 2267 1505 / 2267 0577.
5) This antique suitcase is called a steamer because it comes from the era of the P&0 ships and steamers of the early 1900s. It has come down from Raunaq's grandmother and retains the original clothes hangers from its time. It now occupies pride of place in the living room and serves as a showcase for several objects - an American airgun that belongs to Neeraj; a small golf tray from the St Andrews course in Scotland, the oldest golf course in the world; a porcelain bell from Amsterdam; a ceramic windmill from Holland; and a whole lot of Neeraj's DVDs and CDs. "I'm a total golf and movie buff," admits the man who, since he became a dad, has shifted his priorities to the princess in his life - little Kyra. For trunks and contemporary suitcases contact Louis Vuitton at Ph: 6664 4136.