Buildings under construction at ATS Greens Village, a condo complex in Noida, a city near Delhi. (Photos by Nitin Mukul -- click for larger version)
The brochure from ATS Greens Village, a new development in the Delhi suburb of Noida, lists the type of people buying dwellings in high-rise towers that look out onto a shopping complex, a gym, a pool, tennis courts and a clubhouse. Topping the list: NRIs.
My in-laws are among them.
I've written once here about NRIs, which stands for Non-Resident Indian -- or among those who deride us, Not Really Indian. I have been doing some reporting here on the NRIs who are coming back to India, lured by its booming economy, better job opportunities, aging parents or a desire to have their children raised in their homeland (and for some, all of these factors have brought them back). A new acronym (remember the Indians love to abbreviate) has emerged: RNRI, or Returned NRI.
Again, I am writing a fuller story for The Post on this phenomenon later in the year, so it shouldn't have surprised me that my in-laws and parents have become a part of a trend.
Earlier this week, Nitin, Naya and my father (he arrived on Sunday -- more on that in a bit) went out to the ATS construction site to see how far along the flat has come. It is a three-bedroom with marble floors, servants' quarters and Western kitchens and bathrooms that should be completed by December. As my husband and I stood out on the terrace looking onto the other buildings, I remarked that the compound resembled a Courtyard Marriot -- but nicer.
An estimated 10 to 15 percent of the 732 flats have been bought up by NRIs and RNRIs, according to Sanjeev Kathuria, ATS vice president of marketing. Prices, too, have skyrocketed, reflecting global trends in real estate and fueled in part by expatriates buying second homes in their countries of origin.
"There are two categories of people," Kathuria said. "Those who have gone to the U.S. for the IT industry and are coming back to work here. Then there are people who, like your in-laws, want to come back after being in the U.S. 20 to 25 years and might want to spend the winters here."
Development is coming to define this former agricultural and industrial suburb of Delhi. (click for larger version)|
In Noida there is also a housing complex called "NRI Colony," but Kathuria tells me that is just a marketing ploy. Real Indians (RIs?) live there, too.
My in-laws, who left India in the 1960s, actually are still working quite happily in western Massachusetts but wanted a place of their own in India -- a place to possibly retire to for a few months of the year. Like me, they have spent much of their time visiting India shuttling among extended family.
That was the same thinking that went into my parents' decision to build a house in Assam. A few hours before we toured the Noida flat, I picked up my father at the airport because our family's house in Guwahati, Assam, is finally complete. Gone are the days of extended clans clustering under one roof or compound, so it has become very difficult for us NRIs to lug suitcases from one uncle's house to a cousin's to a great aunt's and on and on.
At least that's been the case in my family. As a child and teenager, it was great fun to sleep with cousins and talk into the wee hours. In those days, I thought life's greatest truths and secrets could only come out under the mosquito nets -- and of course what was uttered under the mosquito net stayed under the mosquito net.
Now that I know who I married (eliminating at least 50 percent of what we discussed back then), I think it's time for a room of my own.
Tomorrow morning, the four of us depart for Darjeeling and Sikkim for a quick holiday in the Himalayas. Then it's off to Assam so Nitin and Naya can meet my relatives and help my father and I pick out curtains, furniture, dishes and linens. How ironic that Nitin and I just spent our year in Washington trying to make our house look Indian (Target's ethnic line helped, as did World Market) and now we will try to make our home in India feel American enough to be comfortable.
My blogging will likely take a break for about 10 days as I take one, too. I've left a few photos related to earlier musings that will be posted over the next few days so please do check back. I also have received quite a bit of reader feedback and portions of that will also be posted. Perhaps if the blogging mood strikes I will log in from Assam and let you know if it feels like home yet.
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