Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where do you live?

You live in a perfectly 'crafted' villa with an ancestral Puebloan fa├žade, just like what the brochure said. The salesperson who couldn't pronounce 'Puebloan' reassured you that the villa 'reflects your identity' and you are now a part of an 'elite community'.

That is until you step out to look at another 100 of the perfectly crafted villas exactly matching yours and each of them reflecting their 'identities'. By that time, you can almost hear the salesperson laughing. Thankfully, I am not rich enough to hear him.

Many years ago back in my hometown, when my dad decided to add an odd looking orange coloured structure to our home, already burdened with his architectural exploits, the protests of a wannabe graphic designer in me was dismissed without much consideration. As years went by, I somehow started liking this 'orange circle' which stood like a hallmark of his identity and his profession.

In contrast as I looked around, Mr.P L's house looked like a 'lavender train', Mr A.F's home made me redefine the notion of a 'concrete jungle' within a house and Mr. H.T's house looked like a 'floating lighthouse'. But together we formed a community, comprising of many different, distinct 'identities'.

I could jump over to Mr. H. T's compound to taste the gooseberries or to Mr. P.L's house to fetch the cricket ball. Even today, the neighbourhood is always lively with conversation across the walls, the walls themselves rarely rising above your shoulder. Most of them know when I return from 'the Gulf' or how much weight I have put on since they saw me last. The cold 'how are you's?' are missing and so are the sweaty handshakes. But here I feel a part of a community, where I have much more than a Puebloan or a Mexican Hacyienda identity.

Everytime I visit one those 'self-sustainable' communities in Dubai like the Meadows, Springs and all things Keats, I wonder how they feel like. Whether they really smile like the perfect families in the royalty-free photos shown in the brochures. Whether they enjoy the safety, security and the dubillion features and facilities.

I'm sure it must be better than my old cramped apartment with 2000 more irrelevant, unrecognisable neighbours.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

have been snooping around this space for a while. mostly for laughs. this post was a surprise - a pleasant one.

waris

4:06 pm  
Blogger Dani said...

A very touching post woke. BUt if for instance, they allow families to design their own villa/s, would that make a big difference?

8:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live there!!! We don't smile like those brochures... those are bloody weird anyway ... plastic ...

9:40 pm  
Blogger Woke said...

@ Waris
Thanks :)

Dani,
Some developers do allow you to design your own villa and some allow you a choice between a few designs. That helps you to 'express' to a certain extent. But if you look at such communities social interaction is still minimal.
I guess this is because you are attached to your home as opposed to when you are involved fully in the design, construction, buying of the land etc. Besides the community needs to evolve naturally. Money cannot buy commmunities, is what I beleive.

8:17 am  
Anonymous Preetz said...

Nice Blog!

The interaction between neighbors has never been a part of the culture here.

whether u lived in apts. or villas, pple liked to keep to themselves not knowing who lives next 2 them.

the main reason for this is bcoz Dubai has always been a city and the surburban culture is just coming up. so give it sometime mayb pple will start warming up to others who share their community.

since home is where the heart is...mayb pple living in these neighborhoods don't mind having a home that looks like a hundred others.

their individual identity reflects in the way they have set up their home inside. so how it looks from the outside doesn't concern them.

Preetz

8:41 am  
Blogger Dani said...

Money cannot buy commmunities, is what I beleive.

Yes! And just come to think of it - we actually have communities here where most of them planned their own homes (try rashidiyah) and they don't seem to be that close of a community even though most of them have been together for years!

It will be hard for communities to evolve here...my thoughts are the same with preetz.

6:45 pm  
Blogger marwan said...

Well said.

Have you ever seen local properties? They designate what seems to be a mile deep exclusion zone around their houses, so they don't have to mingle with their neighbours.

So when they are the ones approving the new stuff, what should we expect really? Community? Please.

This is a country filled with sufferers of avoidant personality disorder.

5:00 am  

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