Monday, June 27, 2005

Only a house is a home

The Garden City metaphor’s stuck in the Bangalorean mind and some youngsters still prefer a house to a flat
The Times of India

BANGALORE’S skyline’s changing and highrises are here to stay, their plus points over-ruling the minus for most. Yet, there is a resolute number of local Bangaloreans who hold on tenaciously to the idea of living in an independent house of their own. What’s surprising is that this aspiration exists among the younger generation.

Ranjandas, 27, a software professional cannot imagine living in a flat. He has it all worked out: “I prefer an independent house because I can build an additional floor whenever I want to.” The lure of even just a handkerchief-sized garden is too strong for the true

Bangalorean to resist, since this is Garden City. Says Ranjan, “Even on a small plot of 1,200 sqft, I can have a tiny garden of 400-800 sqft. Not so in a flat.” The biggest problem about flats, according to him, is lack of privacy. “You talk of security in a flat, but how much do you interact with neighbours there? Do you know them at all? Most of the time, you avoid them.” For Hemamalini Maiya, it’s the sense of rootedness that exists in an individual home that appeals and explains why she lives in one. “There’s a sense of belonging in a house. You can create your own space, you have the freedom to do whatever you like; with a flat you can’t do much. I can’t live in a closed space, and I can’t have all that noise, and all those people going up and down all the time. But my relatives in Mumbai live in apartments and they enjoy the sense of community they have. They prefer that to feeling isolated in an independent house.” The garden is also an important issue for her, though she adds that if she were living alone, she’d prefer a flat for security reasons.

For Sindhu Shyam, a young mother of two, who lives in a flat, security is an issue. “Also I don’t have to bother about maintenance and plumbing or power shutdown. The kids are safe since it’s a closed compound, they also have more friends of their own age around. This may not have been possible had we lived in an individual house.” But still she hankers after one, with a little garden.

Ranjan raises another point: “What’s the life of a flat? A few years. On the other hand, you can expect to lead another generation of your own in your own house.”

Sociology expert, GK Karanth, sums it up: “Though there is a growing demand for flats, those who prefer houses do so for several reasons. The economics: a good flat at a convenient location works up to Rs 35-50 lakh. So buying a site or an old house and modifying it is less expensive. Bangaloreans have an obsession with open spaces since the cultural image of Bangalore is one of a compound with trees and a garden, an image of a leisurely life.”

Also, the demographics of those who come to Bangalore from outside: they usually are the software population, generally, a couple. They find it convenient in terms of company, security, linguistic multiplicity and cultural plurality.”


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