Sunday, May 4, 2008

How the other half live...

I just read about the world's first billion dollar home today. It's in Mumbai, and is the custom-built family pad of petrochemical businessman and 5th richest man in the world, Mukesh Ambani.
This is the exterior. No two floors are alike, and nor do they contain any of the same materials, his wife decreed that if crystal was used in the ballroom (as it is, extensively) then it should not be used throughout the rest of the house.
It has 9 elevators, a four-storey garden, 6 storeys of parking lots, and an interior space of 400,000 square feet.
Here's one of the bathrooms.
This is the ballroom, the ceiling is 80% covered in crystal chandellier.

So why does any of this bother me? Well, because my experience of Mumbai was a world away from this mammoth display of wealth. Mumbai is a city of immense, heartbreaking poverty where people die in the streets.

This is the Laundry. Here, the public congregate either to work, thrashing laundry in troughs of sun-boiled water, (none of those new-fangled electrical washing machines here)
or to beg, because they know taxi-drivers like to shock tourists by bringing them here.
See the covered areas on the left and right of this picture? Families are living under there. Lots of them, amongst rats and filth, because at least there's water here.

And so, Mr. Ambani's home, built within 2 miles of this laundry offends me. The extremes of Mumbai bend your brain.
Apparently, Ambani 'used Indian workers wherever possible' to build his 525ft high tower. Now they'll be able to see it as they fight to do their laundry, assuming they have the luxury of a second set of clothes. How charitable of him.

1 comment:

Princess Haiku said...

I agree with you and thanks for a glimpse of these worlds. The US is doing its best to emulate this income disparity.