The new buzz word in Hyderabad is Lanco Hills, a futuristic ‘world in itself’, with residential flats, malls, entertainment centers, et al., much like what one hears about Ambi Valley near Mumbai. There are hoardings everywhere showing something like the New York City skyline, newspapers are full of ads, you sit in a restaurant and you hear people talking about how quickly property in Lanco Hills is being sold out. How residential flats were sold for Rs 15 crore for floors 1-5, and get lesser as one went up, and how a flat on the 60th floor was sold for Rs 80 lakhs…you choke in disgust.
Lanco Hills seems to represent the final blow to ordinary citizens like me…people who have been living a reasonably comfortable life in this city for the last 30 years. There have always been roads on which one could drive, there have been convenient galli kirana shops for provisions; there have always been interesting theatre and art activities to satisfy one’s soul, there have always been good eating joints, parks, movies…
Suddenly, the roads are too difficult to handle; galli kirana shops have been replaced by impersonal supermarkets with complex computer software that makes billing extremely time-consuming; plays are staged in five-star hotels and cost the sky; suddenly everything is so much more difficult. Something as simple as going to a movie…the multiplex is convenient, but you pay so much more and end up in row 1, 2 or 3. Never in my life have I seen a movie sitting in the front of the theatre, that too after paying the highest price. And this seems to be the accepted thing; no one seems to find anything wrong with it.
I just read an article in Outlook (16 July 2007) titled, “That side of the street” by Jeremy Seabrook. Talking about the trend to “bring Manhattan to Marine Drive, reshaping Bangalore or Hyderabad as Singapore”, he says, “It seems a pity that India, land of villages, cannot invent or imagine a city that is Indian, without reference to some gilded outstation of fantasy.”
Much as one wants to take change in one’s stride accepting it as inevitable, one does wonder, should change necessarily be in the direction of Lanco Hills? Is there no other way to do it?
Who is Lanco Hills for? Why does it make me feel that I am being driven out of the city?"