What are dream homes made of? That’s a question I often ask myself. Swanky high-rise, plush marble floors, ample rooms, snazzy decors, location, neighbourhood, blah blah. While all those things are cool, they wouldn’t exactly compose my dream home. And I realise that no matter how many of those things you get right, your home will still be one-step short of being a dream home… Why you ask? Yeh hai Bombay, yeh hai Bombay, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan!
Okay let me give you my example. I live with my parents (what, it’s normal in India for a 24 yr old girl) and they bought this house back in the 80s.
Its a five minute drive to Dad’s office, it was housed in an old building that boasted of Scottish architecture, Italian mosaic floors and a brown-tiled roof. We were housed on the top floor, with humongous rooms and loads of airy windows. For the toddler in me, it was a great wide space for hiding and seeking. The building had a nice garden that was promptly taken over by Mum. There’s 2 schools and 4 colleges within a walking distance. There are two vegetable markets in the area, both are a 5-10 minute walk. The station is a 15 minute walk and there’s a bus-stop right under with over 20 buses connecting us to the city! Brilliant.
The house has few rooms but they are big and spacious. Me and my sister, have taken over the attic. We have our tiny little den cut off from the rest of the house, every teenager’s dream come true!
So yes, I live in my dream house. I have my parents to thank. I love it that it takes me 25 minutes to get to work on a great day and 45 on bad day! I love it that I can reach anywhere in the city in 40 minutes (on an average! Don’t ask me how long I’d take to come to Yaari road!)
But… there’s a catch. The area I live in is the quieter side of the town. We have few multiplexes, and even fewer restaurants around. Me and the sister are adventurous with cinema and food, and our area does little to cater to that. Most of the restaurants within a 20 minute reach are fantastic, but they’ve been here ages and we know the menus inside out!
India, especially Mumbai, is getting global. We’ve got world cinema releasing in our theatres, we have cuisines of the world being offered on the menus (dude! The quality is really bad and if you want the real thing, be ready to cough up an entire month’s salary!) and of course we have interesting brands coming to our malls.
That makes Mumbai such a vibrant city doesn’t it? Of course, but all that happens in the suburbs of Mumbai. The world cinema is released at a late night show in a theatre far far away. At the end of a tiring day at work, I don’t feel like taking a drive down through the mad-mad homeward bound traffic. And the parents don’t exactly feel great about us daughters being out in a film till 1 am and then driving back home.
Every week, the newspapers recommend new restaurants, new pubs. I see what’s on offer and I say, “I am going there!” Then I look to the bottom of the review and read Malad, Andheri (W), Goregaon and Mulund and the enthusiasm just pipes down. I don’t mind driving all the way, but then the prospect of spending 2 hours stuck in traffic listening to Emraan Hashmi films’ songs lifted from some Chinese musicians doesn’t excite me at all!
BIGFlix, the new DVD rental service on the block, has my list of dream movies, but guess what, they don’t have a single outlet remotely close to my area! And they have a rocking network in the suburbs. Result: I don’t get prompt service from them nor can I go and demand movies L
It is times like these when I start to think about moving to the suburbs. Life is vibrant there. With the new restaurants, funky theatres, new services offered and a plethora of pubs and clubs, I believe that the true spirit of Mumbai is out there. I share this with a friend who lives in the suburbs and she goes, “You mean you want to eat at new restaurants and watch crazy films from countries I haven’t heard of and for that you’re ready to switch places! Sounds good I don’t mind living in your exotic building, walking to work everyday and chilling….”
The grass is always greener on the other side! For now, I will settle for the green grass on the Parsi Gymkhana lawns that I can see from my window…