Mansions of Madras - Where Dreams Come True
If there is an award for the maximum number of people per square metre, Chennai’s Ranganathan Street would come out on tops. The various mansions that dot Chennai would come a close second (That was a bad attempt at cracking a joke). It’s simply amazing how such small rooms can accommodate 4 – 6 people. Triplicane is generally considered a hub for mansions. During the last few years, such mansions have also mushroomed in other parts of Chennai. Such mansions are usually characterized by the excessive number of bikes and cycles that are parked outside and the lungi-clad bachelors who usually prefer to stand outside to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery :-)
Lot of builders flout government norms to build such mansions. The water problem might have reduced a bit now, but when water scarcity was rampant, there was some kind of regulation on the type of apartment complex that could be built in a particular locality / street. The restriction was mainly from the angle of the water and drainage problems such densely populated residential development causes. Knowing well that getting an approval for a mansion would be difficult, the builders would classify the property under some other category to get all the approvals.
Kavitha Muralidharan of The Week provides a peek into mansion life and terms the mansion as a bachelor’s best friend:
The other Thiruvallikeni would put the first one to shame. Its congested streets, crowded mansions and petty shops would dissuade anyone from stepping in. Yet, it is this Thiruvallikeni that is a constant source of comfort and hope to hundreds of youngsters who come to the city in search of better prospects.
Penniless and clueless about their future, the youngsters find warmth in 100-odd mansions, each mansion of which have hundred rooms fit for twin-sharing. Each mansions would house more than 200 youngsters who are either on small jobs or on a look out for one. In a city where house rents are sky-rocketing, a room is affordable-between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500 a month. The advance, too, is low. For an outsider, life in a mansion could seem pathetic. Living in a dingy room which has just enough space for a cot and having to pay for everything including drinking water could be one hell of a thing. For those who live there it is a valuable experience.