Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mukesh Ambani's 27-Story Home

There are nine elevators, a spa, a 50-seat theater and a grand ballroom. Hundreds of servants and staff are expected to work inside. And now, finally, after several years of planning and construction, the residents are about to move in.

All five of them. 

Mumbai, once known as Bombay, is India’s most cosmopolitan city, with a metropolitan area of roughly 20 million people. Migrants have poured into the city during the past decade, drawn by Mumbai’s reputation as India’s “city of dreams,” where anyone can become rich. But it is also a city infamous for its poor: a recent study found that roughly 62 percent of the population lived in slums, including one of Asia’s biggest, Dharavi, which houses more than one million people.

Real estate prices are among the highest in the world, pushing many working-class residents into slums, even as developers have brazenly cleared land for a new generation of high-rise apartment towers for the affluent. High-rises are considered necessary, given the city’s limited land, yet the rising towers have further insulated the rich from the teeming metropolis below. With his helipads, which still await operating approval, Mr. Ambani could conceivably live in Mumbai without ever touching the ground.

“This is a gated community in the sky,” said Gyan Prakash, author of the new book “Mumbai Fables.” “It is in a way reflective of how the rich are turning their faces away from the city.”

Read more: Soaring Above India’s Poverty

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