Can the real luxury please stand up?

ES

What do you look for when you buy a home? Budget, most definitely, but you're also thinking of living in a home where the family can meet, eat and yet retain privacy through all this connectedness. Ample light and air, may be a kitchen garden or balcony to savour your morning tea, and the rest, simple fuss-free maintenance.

Now think luxury and what comes to your mind? Do elaborate driveways and Swarovski chandeliers qualify? Imported marble flooring? Which makes one wonder what happened to Indian marble, but then anything imported in our minds, is luxury.

The intent of this story is not to take you on an austerity drive, but only to question do you know what you are buying into? What your builder has imported is not just a box of tiles, he has imported a way of living. His elaborate design diktats tell you that you have to be surrounded by a golf course to be in sync with the rest of your tribe, that without water walls and horse riding, you haven't arrived yet, that you deserve golf living or a polo way of life.

"People follow each other, like sheep. As a country that takes pride in pluralism and diversity, we fail when it comes to making choices. We all want to live the American dream and the culture of consumption is what drives us," says architect Ashish Ganju, who designed the Press Enclave apartments in Saket, New Delhi. It was the first cooperative initiative where the residents and the architect worked together. That is luxury, where you can request for a window for the kitchen that faces a park, even if it is not in the elevation, simply because it is your house in the end.

THE NEW COMMODITY

Our Indian way of living has primarily revolved around street ecosystems. Galli cricket, the kulfi-man on his cycle, the flower seller bringing flowers for your morning puja, watching your children play, all this doesn't exist in a gated, multi-storey premium apartment. "It is bound to happen," says architect Hafeez Contractor. "You are financially a different person, you are in a different place in life. An executive exposed to a global way of life wants to live such a life back home too." Little wonder then that a flat in Chennai looks no different from a flat in Gurgaon.

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