Puducherry (or Pondicherry as the world still knows it) is a slim slice of France, deposited neatly besides the azure waters of the Coromandel Coast.
Stroll around its seafront promenade and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Provençal village. Bright plaster houses lining neat, narrow lanes, flower-laden wrought-iron balconies, blue-enameled street signs, and staying carefully out of the sun, even policemen in red kepis.
This is, of course, the old French Quarter, justly famous, celebrated in literature and legend, and arguably, the only real bit of
Puducherry most visitors ever see. But enter a little deeper towards the heart of town, away from the neat occidental geometries of the seafront, and you come into quite a different world. Not France with a touch of the Orient. Indeed, quite the reverse.
The Tamil Quarter of Puducherry is a place where cultures not only met, but melted. And gave birth to a way of life found nowhere else in the world. Maison Perumal is our tribute to that way of life. A sepia serigraph of another time - dusted off perhaps, but not retouched.
The red oxide floors and simple wood frame beds feel like they've been transported from a half century ago.Tamil Nadu's conservative culture had a less-is-more philosophy that's reflected in Maison Perumal's minimalistic interiors, adorned with a spare style, yet much attention to detail.
Stained glass offsets the familiar local white plaster, an example of how Maison Perumal celebrates its special heritage. Once, this was an old family mansion, part of the prosperous communities that came up around the temple area.
It took us over a year to restore the building itself, and refurbish it with a studied attention to detail. Researches were conducted into the minutae of material, fit and finish. Local craftsmen were pressed into service, old crafts revived.