13/03/09

a non-issue for this and other elections






one of those two houses (in the last two pictures) isn't located in an american suburb. it's in hyderabad, spread over a plot of 1,000 sq.yards. its neighbours on the right, left, across the street are also as big (or bigger).

why would anyone want to build an american style home in an indian city? because he/she can. it doesn't matter that the design chosen isn't suitable for all kinds of geographies. or for all kinds of infrastructural environments. a middle class american home in the middle of india- if you can't throw that kind of a tantrum, would you be considered upper class in india?

let's look at the scale of this architectural nakhra: the united states is three times as big as india, in terms of territorial size. in terms of population, india is three times, roughly, as big as the united states. an average indian home, given those constraints, shouldn't be bigger than 1/9th an american home. googling, i find that the average home size in the united states is 2330 sq.ft (2004). the hyderabad home in the picture is nearly 9 times the average american home!

that home is in a neighbourhood where mps and mlas were given cheap grants of land by the government. it's expensive- 6-7 acres in the neighbourhood could foot satyam's wage bill for a month.

i am not going to ask- how do people manage to build such big, expensive homes in india? i am more interested in this question- what are those kids (in the first two pictures) doing in this neighbourhood, where mps, mlas and other lawmakers live, if the nregs is such a big success in rural india?

they work in those big homes in the neigbourhood. sparsely inhabited, big homes- because a lot of the owners' kids live, study or work abroad. so why do the owners still live in such big homes? taking care of such large places- isn't that a big problem? cleaning them, keeping every kind of fixture, wiring, plumbing etc., in working order. they can afford to live there because the kids are cheap. you build such big homes in india because you know you can depend on those kids to keep them in running order. because you know you can depend on programmes like the nregs etc., to keep the supply going.

4 comments:

1234 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/13/world/asia/13malnutrition.html?em

Space Bar said...

those last two look like a home i pass when i go for a walk. you didn't take photos of those houses with the electric fences, did you? or the one where the place where these kids might (potentially) live is a little room with one cemented-grilled little hole near the ceiling, built almost on the road so that if the road is ever widened it is that little room that will be demolished? or the houses with their own transformer, electronically operated gates and microphones?

i know someone (an ex-pat married to an indian) who has a staff of 15 people working for their family of three.

there is no place - not even, i imagine, haryana or rajsthan - that is as feudal as ap.

kuffir said...

anon,

thanks.

space bar,

the american style house is somewhere near rd no.36, if i remember right- i took the pictures of the kids in the mps colony adjacent to it.

well, i don't remember all the details- but you describe the general picture accurately. i haven't traveled much, but i completely agree with you on ap being as badly feudal as you say. there are many reasons why it shouldn't be so- one primary reason of course being the presence of the naxalites in a lot districts- but it still is. in the mps or mlas colony, the family i was visiting, are from one of the north telangana districts. and they knew about resentment and naxalites (from very close quarters). i still wonder why that didn't affect them in some ways. the actual feudals, some of who came with titles, i remember from my chilhood couldn't really afford such big entourages in the city. not in the seventies or eighties. so i don't know how to understand this current situation- this seems to be a successful alliance of feudal mores and industrial wealth.

 
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