23-Nov-2011

Builders Selling Foreign Fantasies


What helps fortify the fantasy, and for the sceptic a sense of disbelief, is the usage of language itself. Developers of residential complexes eating up rich farmlands for lifestyle homes have begun reinventing English. 
One can still find residential complexes with indigenous names such as “Samarth Nagar” but the globalisation bug has bitten deep; developers cannot resist adding the suffix, “Heights” or “Residency”. But the more adventurous ones invent in a way that would have made Shakespeare, no mean coiner of new words, wince. 
Hoardings beckon you to “Capriccio”, “Apostrophe”, “Mont Vert”. The developers of “Wisteriaa” are taking no chances with the name of a flower. The extra letter of the alphabet could change fortunes. The creator of “Euthania” stops short of mercy killing. If that phonetic resemblance rattles the sensitive home-buyer, “Invicta” should compensate. 
At a surface level, this play with the English language appears crude and the work of demented builders. But it expresses the way globalisation transforms itself into a new creature of post-modernity that at first sight seems obviously syncretic.
Those are some surreal names.  May not be as bad in Bengaluru, though it may be that I'm not paying enough attention.  Some I can think of, with a little help from Google : more than three flavors of apartments named 'Gardenia'.  Venezia, Parkridge, Passiflora.  The following, while not torturing English, nonetheless are a bit on the fantasy side.  For instance, we have our own choice of Elysium's and one 'Manhattans' (yes, it is the plural.  Buy one get some free!) and our own Riviera.  We have transplanted Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Kensington Gardens, Wellington Park here.  We have an apartment named 'perfumed toilet water' ('Canopy Cologne'),  one named after peafowl ('Confident Pavo').  And much before all that we got our own historical 'Acropolis'.  

For a country reputed to have that has 30 crore gods and goddesses and more than a few languages, we are running short of names for our apartments!  Then again, selling dreams requires that we go beyond the familiar.  Familiarity, contempt...

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