What is it like to stay put for 50 years
It’s gone from Bombay to Mumbai to M MR, and some have watched all this change from the windows of the same house for over 50 years. Space, rent control, sentimentality, even high ceilings are some factors that have caused families to stay put.
For Minal Thakore, 64, who lives in an ancestral property in Santacruz West, the neighbourhood has changed, but moving out is unthinkable.
“My great-grandfather first rented this space in 1936. It was then a two-s to rey bungalow ,” she says. In the ’70s, the family bought the uppers to rey while the owners continued to live on the ground floor. A floor was added above theirs, over time. The Thakore’s flat is 1,650 sq ft with three bedrooms and a roomy kitchen.
She says that while earlier the area had only one or two-storied houses, there are many taller apartments now. Few open spaces remain; these were once used for community festival celebrations. There are many new people, many of whom remain strangers, Min al adds, but old neighbours are still around too.
“We have never received any serious offer to sell, possibly because people know that we won’t,” Minal says. “I don’t want to move at this age out of a house that is full of memories.”
For Farzeen Khan, 27, who works as a creative director of TV shows and ads, the fact that her house was special struck her when she grew up. “It is full of character. Antique furniture, piano, objects that tell stories about how we were,” she says.
Her great-grandparents moved into the house int he 1940s. The building with six flat sat Girgaum is maintained by the Par see Panchayat and Khan’s family pays a nominal sum in rent Changes in the area mean that the main road right outside is always noisy; there’s more dust and pollution every year. “But in every other way this place is a blessing,” she says.
In some cases, second houses bought as investments have turned into primary homes in prime locations.
“My grandfather bought our home in Mu lund in 1920. The doctor had advised him to visit a green area regularly for his health,” says Anil Trivedi, 63, a Customs clearing agent, whose house is right next to the Mu lund station.
The half-acre plot went in for redevelopment in 1991. The Tr ive di brothers now occupy six flats.
“There was some talk of selling before the redevelopment, because some family members were finding it difficult to maintain the structure. After redevelopment there has been no such issue. Our family members are all well-established here now and we all gather here for festivals,” he says.
Not every story of attachment to a space in the city is grand as Trivedi’s. Xulfee Sadriwala’s family’s memories are packed into a 150-sq-ft chawl room on Bara Imam Road near Chor Bazaar .“My grandfather moved in herein 1954. My father and two uncles have grown up in the same room. The room has a bath area but no toilet. The toilet is shared by 10 people on this chawl floor,” says Sadriwala, 26, a documentary filmmaker.
“And if they have to buy a new place they will have to move as far as Vasai. This is a reason why many people stick on in smaller homes in the city,” says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of real-estate consultancy Liases Foras. “The causes are generally social, economic or spatial. Some are waiting to see if the house goes in for redevelopment. If it does, they get a bigger and better-fitted-out home at no extra cost ” he says
Instead of selling their Mumbai home bought in 1920, the Trivedis waited for redevelopment. They now own six flats in the tower.