Saturday, May 9, 2009

Is Fountainhead being replayed in Mumbai?

Ayn Rand's Fountainhead seems to be converted into real life drama in Mumbai. The following extract is from Suketu Mehta's incisive piece of journalistic triumph, Maximum City.

Rahul Mehrotra, whose architectural projects - particularly the combination of low- and high-tech material in his buildings - are praised by critics, is in his tenth year of working in Bombay. More than half of his work, the unpaid part, is in an urban planning institute in Bombay. He talks to anyone who'll listen - governments, journalists, Rotarians - about what needs to be done in Bombay. ... Rahul traces the deterioration of Bombay to the late 1960s. In 1964, a commission headed by the architect Charles Correa - Rahul's father-in-law - proposed New Bombay, a 'magnet city' for Bombay, a pressure valve. It would be located right across the bay, just to the east of the island city.


But in the late 1960s, the state government backed out of a commitment to move its offices from the Nariman Point Reclamation, on the southern tip of the island to New Bombay. Private businesses followed suit. ... Rahul identifies the five builders who, along with the V.P. Naik government ruined Bombay: the Makers, the Rahejas, the Dalamals, the Mittals, and the Tulsianis.


Bombay grew along a north-south axis; people live in the north and commute, in inhumanly packed trains, to the south. Its future depends on the axis being reoriented in an east-west direction.


The reason the builders took over Nariman Point instead of New Bombay was simple: "The greater you skew demand and supply, the higher the prices rise. The five boys must have met and had tea and decided to corner it all in a smaller plan.'

Will Howard Roark triumph this time?
Do you live in Mumbai? Can you confirm the above extract?
The book was written in 2004. So perhaps things have changed in the last 5 years. Or so one hopes.

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