If I had to describe this Home Owner in one word, it would have been ‘persistent’. Armaity Mevawala, Home Owner of SaffronStays L’Attitude By The Lake, Kamshet, is a self-built woman who dared to dream fearlessly and who worked endlessly to build her own ‘Slice Of Heaven.’ And this is her story in her words…
When people ask me, how did L’Attitude and Longitude come into existence? My immediate response is – I don’t know. To be honest, I was either a good visionary or a crazy woman.
My journey began when my health started deteriorating so much so that I had a near-death experience. Only in 2010, when I had recovered fully, did I decide to live my life the way I actually wanted too. I was passionate about trees, and all I ever wanted to do was plant trees wherever I travelled. That’s when I, along with 7 friends, decided to purchase a plot. We searched for almost 4-5 years, but eventually narrowed down to this beautiful land that overlooked Andre Dam. I was 53 when I purchased the land. (Oh did I mention that I was an air hostess with Air India for almost 37 years?)
The year that changed everything
In 2011, when I was 54, a stockbroker liquidated me and ran away with all my money. Everything that I ever owned was now gone. All that was left was my home in Mumbai, ₹57 and this one acre of barren land. It took me almost 2 years to put the broker behind bars, but unfortunately, I could not recover any money.
On one hand, I was fleeced with no saving, and on the other, was serving my end term of retirement. The only option I had to survive was to sell off my home in Mumbai, and head back to Kamshet.
Back then, my property did not have a single leaf; it was bare. I assumed all I had to do was hire labour, dig holes in the ground and plant trees. And as for water, I would simply take some from the dam. If only it was that easy! The biggest challenge was to maintain the property. Neither could I use the dam water, nor had electricity lines set up. So, I first dug a well.
In April, we got electricity to the land. But, let me tell you it wasn’t an easy task. Why? Well, because I was a woman and taking orders from a woman was still not acceptable. They used to address my driver but not me. I had to send my driver on leave for a couple days to get our electricity up and running. The authorities took 2- 3 years to address me directly.
By June I started planting trees. I sectioned my place: On the periphery, I planted indigenous trees which grew in the area, and fruits trees like jamun, amla, imli, mango, chikoo, kala jamun and karvanda around the spot that I had demarcated for my home.
The year I started building
In 2014, I started building my home from the money that I acquired from my provident fund. On the day of the bhoomi puja, I made a promise to only enhance and never misuse the land; I think I have stuck to that promise.
At first, I planned to build a romantic 2 bedroom home with a verandah. However, because of my towering brothers, I had to increase my 2½ foot door to 3½ feet. This exponentially changed the size and structure of my house.
L’Attitude is a 5000 sq ft home. I have seen it grow as I built it brick after brick. I honestly don’t know how I did it… In fact, people used to stand outside and take bets. Trust me there were days when I’d doubt myself, but deep down I knew that it was going to be worth the effort.
In 2015, I retired, and I immersed myself in building L’Attitude with my architect Mr Malaksingh Gill. If I was the brick, he was the mortar. While it was a conspired vision between the two of us, the interior was solely done by me. You will find several refurbished pieces in the home, which are handpicked and made by me. Many of my mummy’s kitchen vessels have become a part of my decor.
Finally, when the home was ready in 2016, I packed my two suitcases and left Mumbai to move to Kamshet for good. But on Day 3, I panicked! I was all alone, and there was no one to converse in English…
On the 4th day, I Googled the nearest dhaba and drove away to Pune. I sat in the dhaba from 2:45 pm – 7:30 thinking, ‘Maity, abhi tu kya karegi kya?’ I was broke, had sold my home and had planned to settle in Kamshet. Less than a week into my plan, I had already shifted back to Mumbai.
Once home, I started figuring out a way to earn income. That’s when my friends suggested renting out the home. Having no prior knowledge about sales, I rented the entire villa to my friend for Rs. 3000. That’s when I realised that I could not rent the home myself, and would need someone else to do it.
The year I joined SaffronStays
A close friend of mine came across the photographer for SaffronStays and asked her to connect me to the company. She called Deven and Tejas, and they visited the home that very Sunday. The moment I met them, I struck a chord with them. It was only their first year into the business, and mine was their 25th Home. I guess I was a special client to them and they surely are very special to me…
My unconditional bond with L’Attitude
I find it difficult to describe L’Attitude in a few words. For me, it is not a home; it is a place of healing. It’s a place that has everything you can imagine, yet it is humble. It’s a place that allows you to breathe.
Initially, I was unsure whether I wanted to share my paradise with others. But I thought to myself; God has allowed me to share what I have and that is a part of my service. I believe that I have relinquished control to share my paradise with others, even if it’s for only a few hours.
Building up Longitude
Though L’Attitude was doing well, I was still concerned about financial returns. When my caretaker’s house collapsed in the rains, I planned to build a similar home. Eventually, that turned into a separate 4 bedroom home. I believe my parents and my forefathers have stood here and made this happen. My loving brothers, my best friend Jenny and all my friends are the reason why L’Attitude and Longitude exist.
To sum it up;
I want my guests to experience leisure when they visit L’Attitude and Longitude. It’s a place to have those crazy parties with your buddies. It’s a place to surprise your partner to the most romantic vacation of their life. It’s a place of exuberance.
This is my heaven; This is my Love… This is the place where it all began…