A real-estate ad for a middle-aged Mumbai tenant is pornography for an early teenager – a jaw-dropping piece of fiction; Messing with teen expectations.
The massive construction/construction, the bright pages of morning broadsheets in the bathrooms, with green landscaping on all sides, small cars maintaining a social distance of 20 feet on a well-starred road, are as close to reality as possible. Children draw their first versions of a house. Huge huts, triangular roofs, mountains behind, and sun as big as birds flying all around. This is an “pictorial representation”.
The interiors of the stunning 2/3/4 BHK (“sample flat”) Taj/Marriott Presidential Suite that if you can afford that furnishings, you’ll own the building. But there are qualities that you cannot ignore. After all, it’s “just 15 minutes from the nearest mall, 20 minutes from the train station, an hour from the airport…”
It’s meant to inform you that if/when you walk in, while navigating the gunk out, the first thing you want to know is how to get out of there anyway! Otherwise, slide your windows, pull the curtain. What difference does it make where you are now—Solapur, Singapore; All the same, no? Unless you inevitably crave a work and social life.
And as with vast Mumbai, it often depends on where you live. Instead of the city, people move into neighborhoods—Colaba or Versova, Saki Naka or Chinchpokli—a self-sustaining blackhole, once you’re in it, it’s hard to get out.
I moved from Delhi to Chembur for the first time, the reason I’m Indian – for all nationalism, it’s not like I had a choice. My parents were already here. Where was Chembur when I came in 2002? I would say, in Pune!
But more practically, “about an hour away” – from everything; Colaba, Versova, Saki Naka or Chinchpokli. The time of day determines the minor interval, here or there. Looking for a southbound escape route, a main road with zero arteries.
In the north, it is closer to Navi Mumbai, yes. Which is a well-planned city designed by Charles Correa in the early 1970s.
At that time, I think the aim was to create a second option for Bombay; only better. Part of the project was for the state government to move there. It’s just that people don’t move neighbourhoods, unless moving up—which, in the context of Indian metros (Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru), is oddly south.
This is where Maharashtra’s politicians and top bureaucrats stayed, refusing to budge from their official homes in and around Nariman Point. This is a trait they share with their traditional, middle-aged neighbours, many of whom live with their parents, as moving out would almost certainly mean stepping down.
New migrants, shrugged off the hustle and bustle of addresses, are free to go wherever they want. So, where do they go? They start out with bathroom-sized digs in tonier neighborhoods (like Bandra), paying rents that leave little for bars/restaurants – getting progressively more expensive, thanks to excise duties/taxes, As well as worsening curfew hours – still cutting into a social life.
At least one large house, or even a similar size, is needed, as the current neighborhood has already been priced out – they continue to move further and further north, kissing distance of Nashik. for, and where to go?
Of course, the future of cities is concerned with the talent it attracts. Ask any Shark-Tankers from the world of fancy start-ups in the past decade, where would they try to set up shop? Not Mumbai.
The hustle here now seems to be too much to attract more talented youth. Even the famous, round the clock social/party scene hardly exists anymore. Maybe Bangalore, on which a metropolis has been imposed? Kolkata, Chennai, relatively provincial? Delhi, self-judgmental, aggressive and pompous?
For a woman in India, Mumbai’s comparative anonymity/openness as a social choice makes no sense. For the city’s best, fresh graduates, half of whom live in slums, living in its own right is a financial hassle.
Rents go up, because the rich have invested that kind of money to take over. I don’t know what their margins are- but the realtor is the only Mercedes that stands out among the hatchbacks of tenants in the worst buildings!
Slowly no one is buying these properties either. Last checked, 1.09 lakh apartments were lying vacant, unsold. Because no one can afford them. But no one will drop the price. No one lives in them. Making a ghost town, where only the ‘soul of Mumbai’ is left. Making a Legal Case for Great Exodus After the Great Resignation, Post Pandemic, Because No One Will Make More?
Problem and solution lie on the same bed. I survey my neighborhood—partly to get attention on a one-time property ad, and the social media push notifications and phone calls that haven’t stopped since.
Where is Chembur in 2022? An elevated road, always come empty (Eastern Express Highway), I suspect, for politicians to reach their constituencies, exiting VT (Peak South Mumbai) for Chembur in eight minutes flat! As did the Santa Cruz-Chembur link road, which takes you to Saki Naka in about half the time. Similarly, the way for Bandra East Connector, Chinchpokli is cleared.
No, this is not a real estate advertisement. There is obscenity. Apartments in kilometer-radius of the mine are being sold for more than Rs 10 crore (being new lakhs). These are Manhattan rates. So are you coming to Mumbai?
Mayank Shekhar has tried to make sense of the people’s culture. He tweeted @mayankw14
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The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper