It is not uncommon for Mumbaikars to have multiple generations residing in the same apartment. However, the concept of a ‘house’ would be completely different for all three of them. This is because before the concepts like high rise towers with ownership apartments in varied configurations emerged, Mumbai has begun the evolution from the very basic chawl system and rented houses. These are the formats that most of the senior citizens would recall.
Their children were old enough to have experienced the one-room kitchen concept, which has now been repositioned as a ‘studio apartment.’ Their children, in turn, would relate to real estate that begins with a minimum of one-bedroom-hall-kitchen to the modern-day swanky apartments with multiple bedrooms, adjacent flats joined together and even across two floors, namely the duplexes and penthouses.
Many love to relive their past and tend to romanticise their memories of the older residences dwelt in decades ago, despite having moved into a swanky apartment. A hitherto joint family that has now become nuclear would be spread across 2-4 locations of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region such as central suburbs like Sion-Chunabhatti. On calculating the combined space covered by all those apartments, they would wonder how the entire family had ever managed to live in one-fourth the space earlier?
Simple; old houses had a veranda, a cantilever balcony or multiple balconies, passages and a spacious attic, where one could carve out some extra space on the basis of the family’s needs. The hall or bedroom could be extended by breaking the wall of the balcony, or a new room could be carved out by putting in a partition in between the room, dividing the space into two as and when needed. So, within the existing space itself, some extra rooms could be carved literally out of thin air. The veranda on every floor was an extended area to every flat and an interaction zone. Here, families mingled, kids played, and some small furniture items would be kept outside each house; the fact that they constituted a fire hazard and should be kept back inside was for some mysterious reasons, never mentioned.
In comparison, most new constructions tend to have a very compact design to facilitate the new-age purchasers with concealed electrical wiring and plumbing pipes giving a sleek, polished look. The veranda space outside apartments tends to be minimal, the balcony, passage and attic have been mostly discarded. The elements that have been done away with are replaced instead with flower beds, a dry area that doubles as a washing machine bay and extra household items end up being put in a box grill outside the windows, so one does literally carve out some extra space out of thin air in modern apartment buildings as well.
If you look at residential projects in Mumbai’s suburbs or exurbs (regions beyond the sub-urban areas or what are referred to as extended suburbs), the names reflect the positioning or unique selling proposition (USP). With names like Sea View to Lake View, Highway View to Hill View and even Garden View, even first-time visitors to your residence will automatically figure out the reason for your purchasing the apartment even before being shown the vistas visible from the window.
The other aspects that add to the attractiveness of modern homes are the common facilities like the clubhouse, swimming pool, gymnasium, garden track, meditation zone and so on. Some builders provide a jogging track on the terrace itself, along with the swimming pool for greater privacy.
A swanky reception area, security at the gate, and video camera door bells/ intercoms in every apartment, parking facilities at the stilt and/ or the basement area, and different capacity lifts for reaching your home, it’s all part of the package. These lifestyle amenities offer multiple avenues to keep your family occupied so the overall ‘residence’ is much more than just the apartment that you have purchased, if you look at it that way.
Nuclear apartments are more compact as they enable couples to buy their own homes at a younger age with an affordable price tag.
The central suburban areas like Sion-Chunabhatti and exurbs offer lifestyle amenities that enable your family to participate in activities beyond just the basic apartment purchased.
(The writer is a Trend Science, Communication & Marketing Consultant)
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