Home Tollywood News Bollywood Gola Political News Hyderabad Mania
Custom Search

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's changing India that greets NRIs coming home

When Surya 'Sue' Patel landed at Mumbai airport, she stepped out like many confident NRIs. Wearing the latest Nike sneakers, a designer pair of jeans and her Rolex watch, she thought she would make her presence felt among her relatives in Mumbai before going on to Gujarat to celebrate Navratri and, later, Diwali.

She trundled her Samsonite bags to be welcomed and hugged by her cousin, Meera. Her cousin fished out a mobile and asked the driver to pick them up. Soon the car arrived - a big, gleaming Mercedes Benz. Sue also noted the Gucci bag she was carrying and her Cartier watch. Sue swallowed hard. Ten years ago, Meera and her husband had a Maruti Esteem and now they have certainly moved up in life, she mused.

As they were negotiating the chaotic traffic towards Bandra and Sion, she saw the same ill-kept, dilapidated buildings and hordes of people all over. Later, they went through the Dharavi, the mother of all slums where the huts had encroached footpaths. She noticed how the lamp posts had been engulfed by hutments with signboards of almost every business from groceries to construction materials. Parked on the road was a long line of handcarts pulled by sweating labourers to transport the merchandise. She thought, "Ugh! Mumbai will never change!"

After an endless half an hour of this depressing travel through the squalor of this slum, they came to a toll bridge. Paying the toll, they entered a new world - open, green and wide. "This is Navi Mumbai," said Meera. "We moved here four years ago from our flat in Dadar." Climbing a flyover, they saw new, high-rise buildings, banks, smart restaurants and spanking shopping malls ahead.

Gliding over a four-lane Palm Beach Road, lined with date palms in the centre and verdant plants around them, they came to a high-rise complex called NRI Colony. A gated estate, it had a small smart shopping complex. The watchman waved them in and they went up to the penthouse where Meera's husband, Rasik, and her children, Ela and Vipul, greeted her. The luxuriously decorated penthouse boasted of original paintings and Swaroski crystal. As she took it all in and swallowed hard.

She thought, "Umm, making money was India's first challenge, now it's how to spend it. Seems they are getting plenty of help in this direction as the super luxury goods manufacturers are moving in quickly to get a slice of the market."

Wearing trendy Swatches, the children were soon playing with the latest Sony PlayStation on a huge Samsung plasma screen. Rasik was getting out his Callaway golf set for the weekend round of golf. It seems Meera was spoilt for choice of designer wear, both Western and Indian - Armani, Escada, Moschino, Hermes, Prada, Fendi et all was here. It was the same story for Western designer men's wear and jewellery.

After luxury brands rented outlets in the shopping arcades of five star hotels, they spawned a demand for luxury shopping malls that are due to be opened soon in Delhi and Mumbai. Super luxury cars like Bentley, Rolls Royce and Ferrari are available in India.

On observing the general affluence, Sue said she was happy Rasik was doing well and wondered what the secret of his success was. "Simple," he answered, "I invested in stocks, mutual funds and real estate and all these have gone up many times in the last seven-eight years. The stock market has shot up from 6,000 to almost 18,000 points now; and the real estate is also up by over four times. So after I cashed in on some profits and sold my Dadar flat, I moved here for a better quality of life." But how come they moved into this NRI Colony? Not a problem as they paid the going rates and many Indians had moved in, replied Rasik.

The hi-tech industries and the back office operations of major companies and big banks are located here, an airport is being planned at New Panvel and a bridge linking Navi Mumbai to the city centre is being built. New export processing zones are due to come up and going to the city centre takes 60-90 minutes depending on the traffic and Pune is just three hours away by the super highway.

Sue cringed inside thinking about the 'presents' she had brought for Meera and her family: a perfume bottle she got as a freebie from the store for buying something else, a cut price pair of jeans for Rasik and digital watches from Hong Kong and Chinese toys from Wal-Mart for the children. After this reality check, she decided to let her presents remain in her suitcases.

No comments:

Google Custom Search