All Roads Lead To Richmond
Working from home: a plot twist by Ishan Rao, Senior Account Manager
Nestled amongst the once sleepy roads of Bangalore’s central business district, the Dentsu Webchutney office is a testament to the inevitability of progress. Wondering which direction it’s heading in? That depends on who you ask.
The modern office with tastefully done interiors houses some of India’s top creative talent, however few know that it rests on land that has a deep, storied, and, for me, personal legacy.
In 1896, this 2-acre plot was home to an idyllic English bungalow, ‘Tiverton’, which was occupied by Mr and Mrs R.A. Butterfield, a British couple who renovated it for their family. The colonial home with its sweeping landscape undoubtedly served the family well. Staffed with a dozen native servants, malis and numerous helpers, the house was frequented by an assortment of officers and dignitaries. Just a stone’s throw from the Bangalore Club, which at the time did not allow Indian members, Tiverton’s white oval facade and crested roof made it a well-recognized colonial landmark.
Several decades later during the 1950’s, the property found its first Indian resident, Dr. Justin Albuquerque, an industrious virologist in the Indian Medical Service who studied at the London School of Tropical Medicine, where he’d worked on finding cures for the Spanish Influenza. Much like its new residents, India, and by extension Bangalore, reflected its own tide of socio-economic reforms driven by an empowered young nation. The Bangalore Club which was once reserved for British officers now opened up to Indians; enterprise flourished, and the city and its landscape began to rapidly change.
This by no means was a golden age for the Garden City — mistakes were made, atrocities were committed, and injustices still prevailed. Many of these were self-inflicted; one need only look to a plot neighbouring Webchutney’s modern facade to unearth its skeletal secrets.
“On May 28, 1991, the granddaughter of former Dewan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, Shakereh Namazi was buried alive in the backyard of her sprawling house on 81, Richmond Road by her second husband, Murli Manohar Misra alias Swami Shraddhananda, who was for a long time eyeing her property” reported the Times of India.
In this instance justice was delivered — Swami Shradhananda would receive the death sentence in a sensationalised case (feel free to Google it for fascinating details), that would later be reduced to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court.
Despite our history being dotted with dark episodes, there is no denying the inevitability of progress. Through triumphs and tribulations, Tiverton stood defiantly, passing down to Dr Albuquerque’s son — AVM Peter Albuqueque and his wife, Vera- while the city and its surroundings continued to change. In 2011, Tiverton would eventually give way to a modern four floor building that would soon house Bangalore’s Dentsu offices. Its last residents, Vera and Peter, would relocate to other parts of the city along with their children and grandchildren, one of whom included me.
Twenty years later, I find myself walking through a building that now occupies what was once my childhood home. A place steeped in history, with a legacy that means a great deal and very little at the same time. An office brimming with talent undergoing its own constant evolution much like the city that surrounds it and the country it belongs to. A place that embodies a palpable excitement of what’s yet to come. So if you were to ask me about the inevitability of progress and the direction in which it is taking us, my response would be… “forward”.