Thora sa New York ho jaye
Premium living at affordable price.
Driving from small town Mhow to big city Indore (population in 2011 just under two million) recently, I didn’t just see the beginnings of a new New York city, but saw a full blown Statue of Liberty as well.
It set me thinking.
So what if you can’t live in New York, United States of America? You can live in New York City, near the central Indian city of Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Welcome to the new and aspirational India that’s spreading all over the country.
Like a virus.
In Gurgaon, where I live (population just under one million), here’s a sampling of names for existing condominiums: Carton, Princeton, Beverly Park, Belvedere Park, Belvedere Towers, Hamilton Court, Richmond Park, Palm Springs, Palm Drive, Malibu Towne …
One could go on. But the point doesn’t need to be laboured.
In Delhi, you might have Golf Links, but you also have Paschim Vihar, Mayur Vihar, Preet Vihar, Sarita Vihar, Alaknanda, Vasant Vihar. To me, these names are now a harking back to the Old India.
New India has “moved on” and so have those in the realty business.
Property developers – large and small – possibly feel that they have a better chance of hawking their condos if they have Western names etched on.
In times gone by, the path to becoming rich ran through the US of A. Or London; we could even add a Singapore or Dubai.
Home was the place those people lived who couldn’t get out.
Why would you inhabit a poor, dirty, chaotic Indian city when you could migrate to a comfortable Western location where the power and water never went off (Sandy seems to have dented that image a bit)?
It wasn’t just the city, it was the money. There was more moolah for all in the West and for professional Indians it was the means to rise above the monetary shackles that bound them about 15 years ago.
Things have changed on the salary and opportunity front. Many Indians have understood that there is a lot of money to be made and have begun returning in droves.
To house them (and the aspirational ones who feel it’s no longer necessary to move), our property developers are coming out with new and catchy names to net the flat (oops, condo) buyer.
And, it’s not just them. Expats are also keen to come and work in India at a time of shrinking opportunities in the Western world.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that millions of Indians don’t want to go abroad. I’m just saying that there is a particular category of Indian who has the money and would rather live with family and friends at home as opposed to living abroad.
But this seems to be a bit of a digression.
As India’s urban sprawl expands, property developers are coming up with new and mostly-Western names to get the upper middle classes to invest in a new home.
And these condos are selling.
At the end, a confession: I live in B-E-L-V-E-D-E-R-E Park.
Try explaining that on the phone.
Kya bola ji? What did you say? Hello, hello?
Acha, B-A-L-V-I-N-D-E-R Park.
Pahaunch raha hoon. Just reaching.
Amit Baruah is an independent, Delhi-based journalist. He is the author of Dateline Islamabad and reported for The Hindu newspaper from Pakistan.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.