Saturday, 22 September 2012



‘Hiiumaa’, the little annexe above Saaremaa, has also been completed now and is comfortably furnished for all our family and guests who fall in love with our home in the mountains and want to always visit again. It boasts of a lovely, large, timber constructed bedroom with a verandah overlooking the stupendous mountain view in the East. There is another little study cum bedroom upstairs and a drawing and kitchen cum dining room downstairs . Both floors have bathrooms. The best part of Hiiumaa are the two verandahs on either end of the house and a dining room which is part of the open kitchen, where we sit facing the full view of the mountains.
New ' Hiiumaa' seen when one looks upward from 'Saaremaa'
Hiiumaa  -  part of the drawing room on the GF, looking into the kitchen..The 'bukhari' (wood stove) in the corner keeps the whole house warm

Hiiumaa - upper floor landing looking into the main bedroom
Upper bedroom balcony - a perfect place to sit
Glimpse of  FF bathroom !

View from Hiiumaa's drawing room

Initially, Hiiumaa was a large single room or outhouse and was built as a store to put all our cement  and other construction material, basically to keep it safe and protect it all from the vagaries of mountain weather. However, we had to come quite often to check on the work being done on the main house Saaremaa, and living far away in town was counterproductive. We didn’t even have the motorbike then, leave alone our 4 wheel Gypsy. So, we hit on a brainwave and decided to make a temporary tin store for the building material and simply live in ‘Hiiumaa’, for better or worse.

I clearly remember  the only trip we left our little son behind in Delhi with his grandparents (he sweetly tags along with us everywhere usually!). We folded the back seat of our car and filled it with four plastic chairs and a plastic table, bedding, two cotton ‘durries’ (large woven mats), a few utensils, a small one burner gas stove with a mini cylinder and basic groceries. We headed off from our home in Delhi straight to ‘Saaremaa’, praying the traffic would be okay and we would reach during daylight hours to set up ‘home’. We were lucky and did manage, with  two old kerosene lamps helping us to see, while we put our meagre belongings into the one room which would serve as our bedroom, drawing room, dining room and kitchen for the next two years.
Slowly, with each trip, we added a few more articles to our sparse home, like two tin trunks to store bedding (very much like the trunks my grandparents had from their many postings all over India), an ugly but much needed, small sized, Godrej almirah (steel cupboard), a solar torch and 2 solar lights, and two proper beds from Landaur bazaar in main Mussoorie  which we realised were less hardy than the folding beds we used earlier.

Little Hiiumaa did not even have a covered veranda and I must say, we were very very lucky with the weather on all the occasions we stayed there. We often cooked on a small stool set up outside and sat around it, eating there itself. The outside was also our drawing room. Inside, other than the two existing beds, a folding bed would be put up for our son at night which would be dismantled and used as a sofa to sit in the sun in the morning. With that 3rd bed, there was hardly place to move inside the room! Anyway, with no electricity then, we had early nights and slept very deeply indeed until the first rays of the sun would stream through the windows beckoning us to another wonderful day in the Himalayas. Hiiumaa remains a bird watcher's paradise and we see the rarest and most beautiful birds while sitting on any of the verandah's around it.

An Oriental Turtle Dove perched on the Oak tree just outside the  upper verandah of 'Hiiumaa'

Those days and nights, with literally just a roof over our heads and precious little else, were easily the best ones I remember. Washing utensils was done outside and bathing was not done at all. In fact, bathing and washing clothes were saved for when we went back to Delhi, to our fancy showers and washing machines. However, we never missed the luxuries of city life, not one bit. It was just cups of tea or soup, one after the other, sitting in the outdoors. Every now and then, we would go off for part of the day on our ‘khachhar’, the motorcycle, visit our friends, go to the Landaur bazaar,buy our stores from Prakash’s at Sister’s bazaar and come back home precariously carrying everything, some in our backpacks and some tied to the back and sides of the motorcycle. We truly must have made a rather comical sight.

 Naming Hiiumaa was not difficult! While we were in Estonia recently, we took the ferry from ‘Haapsaalu’ on the westernmost coast of Estonia across to Hiiumaa, the second island adjacent to main Estonia, just north of Estonia’s other island, Saaremaa. We lived in a beautifully constructed log cabin along the sea. Once we named our main home ‘Saaremaa’, automatically the little room above got called ‘Hiuumaa’! 

Our friends visited us at old Hiiumaa regularly and they rightly called it the ‘boondocks’. They rather accurately commented that either we were very brave or just extremely foolish. On looking back, I truly wonder how we did it. However, I have to say that living in that little outhouse, which is now the tastefully built up ‘new-look’ Hiiumaa, was the most humbling and  rewarding experience of my life. Something I will never forget and always cherish lovingly. So much so, that when main Saaremaa was finally built by April 2009, it was with a heavy heart that I packed our belongings and moved down. Our days of ‘house house’, as our friends called it, were over, and the real world was beckoning with a fully fledged house, namely Saaremaa, waiting for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment