Red-oxide flooring

August 18, 2012

I miss the earthy red-oxide flooring of our old house. The glow that the crimson red colour exuded with every passing year was simply a sight to behold. Every morning, the carpet like flooring, never ceased from throwing up a seamless wonder! I could see a clear reflection on the floor. We’ve lost this rich and traditional heritage.

A relative of mine, who was a famous Civil Engineer, once told me that red-oxide became less popular by the mid-70s as the skilled labourers who specialised in the oxide flooring work became extinct species.

By the late-70s, with the arrival of the multitude of flooring materials, red oxide fell out of popularity and was considered a poor man’s flooring. Mosaic was the in-thing in the ’80s, later to be replaced by ceramic tiles and marbles.

Coming back to the red-oxide, the flooring with a deep crimson hue was something unique to our house. Many visitors exclaimed at the richness and velvety gloss of the well-made floor. On a festive occasion, a rangoli drawn on this floor would look truly outstanding!

Each time the red-oxide floor was mopped, I would see the patterns formed when the water dried. The shiny floor with resplendent reds would enrich the hall. With my mother, I visited many houses which had a gleaming spread of the red-oxide floor in shades as cherry, ruby, crimson or scarlet.

There was a touch of infinity in the red-oxide flooring. With no lines or boxes, the joint-free seamless stretches with a uniform finish was a work of art, that I miss seeing today. There was no maintenance headaches. All that it asked for was a daily mop. As it aged, even a daily walk on a red-oxide floor was equal to an extra polish, thanks to the smooth friction!

Sometimes, oil would spill on this flooring. And when I rubbed it to wipe the oil off, that portion of the floor would look splendid as it shone beautifully. On the contrary, when lime juice fell, that area would whiten! Very sensitive, this red-oxide, just like my mother!

I miss both of them!

[My mother had cracks in her feet. She felt mosaic was more friendly for her. When we stayed for a short period in Ernakulam with mosaic flooring, the cracks vanished. It resurfaced when we came back.]

14 Responses to “Red-oxide flooring”

  1. mouna Says:

    we have the red floor in our house. i love the shine of it. and i don’t think people who do it are extinct.

  2. sudha raghavan Says:

    I love red oxide flooring as well, also the houses with mangluru henchu. wanted to have it in our house in NZ, infortunately nobody knows about here and importing it was out of reach 😦

  3. Badrianth Says:

    I wanted to make the floor with red-oxide but didn’t get suitable workers for that : (.

  4. Uma Suresh Says:

    As I started reading the first line,Malleshwaram house immediately popped in my head! How beautiful it was.And mate you covered it all,the moppping,oil polishing,Lime marks as these things went through my mind as well!
    And finally comparing our dear mother to the sensitiveness & saying that you miss her was very touching.I miss her too.
    What can I say ‘Mother Earth’,She has the maximum amount of tolerance & patience through out the world.
    Our dear mother also very much demonstrated this quality every single day of her life.
    Thanks once again for touching on a sweet topic.
    Have a good one.

    • rk Says:

      uma, perfect of you to have used the words ‘mother earth’ who is synonymous with patience and tolerance! happy that you liked this post. 🙂 thanks!

  5. Uma Suresh Says:

    Cannot believe that I forgot to mention the beautiful Rangoli on the Kempu Nela!
    Our mum was also so good at drawing Rangoli.

  6. Sandhya Says:

    Your post reminded me of the red oxide flooring at my grandmother’s house in Mysore. I liked the floor so much. It had a cooling effect and cleaning it was very easy. Sad that the art of red oxide flooring has become extinct.

    As I read your post, I remembered my Ajji and Tata sitting on the red oxide floor and playing ‘chouka baara’ with us and help us draw ‘banna bannada chittara’ using colour chalk pieces. Very very nostalgic.

    • rk Says:

      hi sandhya! thanks for dropping by! felt great to know you have such lovely memories of your ajji-thatha’s place! i too remember playing ‘chouka-bhaara’ with my amma and ajji on the kempu nela!

      tk care

    • Sam Says:

      Hi RK
      Read through the Nostalgic cycle links. Our times we enjoyed circus and all the shows you listed. Truly a joy to read and recollect the wonderful memories. Red oxide flooring is a delight and glad our home still has it in Bangalore. Rangoli’s come out beautifully on it and the kids take turns to delight everyone how masterful they are at art. The floor offers endless canvas for the grand kids to show off. Festival time during Dussera and Diwali bring out so many colours.and charms everyone. Our entire family studied at KVM and who can forget the wonderful memories you bring to life through the posts on KVM. BTW how are you performing on the TV show. KVM mate all the best to you. Keep our flag flying high. Take care

      • rk Says:

        hi sam,
        thanks for sharing your memories here.
        lovely to keep going down the memory lane with you all here again and again!
        tv show was just a one off thing.
        thanks for dropping by.
        tk care

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