‘Work in Bangalore, Stay in Europe’, announced a billboard advertising yet another apartment complex, as I walked along the dusty, narrow, one lane road that connects Jakkur and Amruthahalli. Far cry from the M5, this road. I wondered what part of Europe this billboard was referring to. Maybe Europe started only once we entered the hallowed portals of the complex. The menacing looking security guy who could easily have been an immigration officer in Berlin, checking your dirty-looking Indian passport and grudgingly applying an entry stamp on your visa.
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Blame it on the IT boom or our own middle-class notions of equating a luxurious lifestyle with that of the West. Whether it’s a Purva with the Venetian concepts or a Brigade that promises a Gateway between Heaven and Earth – builders are wooing Bangaloreans with fancy names and promises of Western living right here in Bangalore or upcoming Devanahalli. The trend to christen the huge townships and villas with names of exotic flowers (Petunia, Chrysanthemum), precious gems (Coral, Jade) or on foreign (mostly English) towns persist. So one can find a Knightsbridge in Whitefield, a Fairmont in HSR Layout, and an Alpine apartment in Hebbal or even a Marble Arch (See the Original) down the Lingarajapuram flyover!
Back in the Eighties, naming a house was an auspicious affair, probably during the ‘Gruhapravesham’. Names like ‘Santrupti’, ‘Ananda Nilaya’, ‘Shreyas’ or ‘Sri Nivas’ were popular. Names of Gods and Elders were recurring themes.
Contrast this with the realty section of any newspaper today, which almost looks like the travel section – developers selling us dreams of Spain, Italy or England. Or Paradise. My friend Sudhir bought an apartment in ‘Mantri Paradise’ on Bannerghatta Road in 2001. Life was far from Paradise for him during the years when the road lay in utter neglect and disrepair. However, property prices in the area have shot through the roof – his investment has appreciated over 300%. Maybe this was the Paradise the builders were talking about.
The less said about the more exotic names, the better. I couldn’t see a single orchid in Sobha Orchid, definitely no emeralds on display in Sobha Emerald, and utter cacophony of construction was all I could near Adarsh Rhythm.
Says a senior Manager from HM Constructions – "Most of our customers are either NRIs or from the IT sector. It is easier for the Marketing Department to sell with these fancy names." As the city goes global, so do the names.
Builders are selling us dreams of world-class living with fancy names and great look-and-feel. Wasn’t this what Yash Chopra did with his slickly packaged movies shot in foreign locales? Reality hit when you stepped out of the movie hall and came on to the noisy roads – just like it does when your car gets out of Prestige Notting Hill and on to crowded Bannerghatta road.