So it’s exactly a year since I moved to the north. North Bangalore that is. For exactly the last one year, I’ve called a place in Rajajinagar 2nd Stage (not to be confused with Rajajinagar 2nd Block) my home. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, I must say. Lots of ups, lots of downs. I must admit a year in I still haven’t settled in completely, and for the record, I’m already plotting a move back south.
The problem with the area where I live is that it is an area of houses built on 30 feet by 40 feet plots. While that itself is not a problem (with an FSI of 1.5, you can build a 1800 square foot house here, which is pretty massive), the problem is that this area was “built” in the early 1970s. Back then, nobody had cars, and given the economic situation nobody aspired to have a car. This, coupled with the smallish plots meant that people didn’t make a provision in their plots to park cars. Again – given the economic situation when this layout was built, it is a perfectly rational decision.
Now, forty years later, with rapid economic growth in the last 20 odd, everybody has a car. And since there’s no space to park them inside the houses, people park them on the streets. So on every street in my locality, you will find cars parked continuously on both sides of the road. Unfortunately people haven’t figured out a protocol of one-ways, so sometimes that leads to traffic deadlocks when cars approach from both sides of the road. Thankfully we are spared of such deadlocks since we live on a road that leads to a dead end (a real dead end, not a “Bangalore dead end”, which is just a T-junction).
Thinking about it, I find the land use here rather suboptimal. Most plots have two-storeyed houses, and given the size of the plots, the plots are fully built. So there is less than five feet space between my window and my neighbour’s – and on Sunday mornings we get woken up because Neighbour Uncle likes to talk loudly on the phone sitting in his porch (the neighbours reconstructed their house a few years back, so they have a porch to park their car). Essentially there is little privacy.
There is little of other things also – like open spaces and trees, again a function of the plot sizes. I have a solution for this, but it is going to be hard to implement, and I don’t want to be the ones doing that. Yes, everyone has a plot of land to call their own. But they live in houses that aren’t too large and don’t have much privacy or open spaces or gardens.So I think it would be a profitable enterprise for a real estate developer to buy up the entire area (let’s say about two or three roads at least), merge the sites and build a high rise apartment here with all “facilities”. Even if the realtor were to pay above market rates (necessary since a lot of people wouldn’t want to sell) and compensate the incumbents handsomely in terms of houses, there is profit to be made. But then everyone wants their own “piece of land”.
Notwithstanding any of this, where I live is a great area. It is residential and solidly middle-class, and I can buy just about anything I want within a kilometer of my house. I only need to walk about 100m to catch an auto rickshaw, and it isn’t that hard to get an auto home at any time in the day. The biggest problem I find here, though, is infrastructure.
Malleswaram is a pre-car area. It was built in the 1890s to rehabilitate people from the old city (pete) area following an outbreak of plague. Consequently, the roads aren’t particularly wide. Which ever way I want to get out, I’m faced with narrow roads, and that combined with heavy traffic means travel times to the centre of town and beyond are large. And to make matters worse, Dr. Rajkumar Road (one boundary of “mainstream” Rajajinagar) is a highway, with buses leaving for all parts of Karnataka passing through this road.
I have a habit of living in cusps. My last residence was at the trijunction of Jayanagar, Basavanagudi and Banashankari. This one is on the border of Malleswaram and Rajajinagar. Maybe the next time I move, I should think of going into the “middle” of some area.