Sunday, October 26, 2014

Know Your Neighbor!

You can have a good neighbor only if you are a good neighbor by yourself...Howard E. Koch

Howard E. Koch was an American playwright and screenwriter who were blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses in the 1950s for portraying communism through his plays. Well, on the background of cold war the above sentence must have been taken wrongly by the typical USA minds but it’s applicable perfectly to our flat culture today in India! What made me remember this quote is a small incidence happened in my own apartment building. Like any other society we too have a notice board in our building’s entrance lobby which usually displays hand written notices about water cuts & lift maintenance timings by our efficient society secretary. Recently while coming back from the work a neatly typed letter on the notice board caught my attention & I paused to read it as it looked like something different than a notice. It was a short note or letter addressing to all the residents by a family which was living on rental basis, a floor below mine & has just moved out to some other premise. They have wrote about wonderful experience of the apartment during their some four year long stay in our building & now they are moving at another place & they will miss the people here & thanked all residents for making their stay in our building, a beautiful experience! It was so simple yet touching gesture that I read it again & clicked a snap of that letter in my cell & thought of messaging the man from that family about the letter & then I realize that I don’t have cell number of the man neither the letter has their new address! I have met the family’s members hundreds of the time in the lift, in parking & in the lobbies at all hours of the day. I have shared weather talks & smiles on way down or up in the lift with them yet in all these years I couldn’t even asked them for their any contact number, the thought really made me feel very guilty rather shameful about myself; as what kind of a neighbor I had been to them!

This is the cause rather topic of our sharing as how much we know our neighbors? Those who are resident of Pune since their childhood, I mean the genre of my age who remembers famous “Wada or Chawl” culture of this city where every one used to know every one! There were no secrets in any home right from whose daughter is getting married with whom to which husband wife don’t get along & result of a boy appeared for Matric i.e. 10th, was known to entire galli even before the parents knows it! Every smallest thing was shared around rather becomes public, such was the community living. People weren’t afraid in going to outstation & no safety doors or CC TV cameras were required in the homes for security. No need of keeping emergency alarm or some important phone numbers list was there & as it was era without cell phones so emergency number speed dialing was out of imagination! Terms like security services or watchman were unheard; all the security of entire mohalla or galli i.e. by lane was a lone gourkha, shouting “jagte raho” that too at night!  Even tenets also were considered as part of the community & treated with equal affection & respect. There weren’t any society formations needs or managing committees; no circulars were necessary for getting residents together & no notice board was required. Yet those were the safest times in term of security of the community in totality as every one used to watch everyone unintentionally! 

And why Pune city, all of us who have come from smaller towns have similar experience with our childhood as home wasn’t restricted to the four walls we resided in but it’s the entire surrounding which made our home! And that’s why this city was supposed to be the safest amongst all top cities in the country & trust me it wasn’t far back on time scale.

Agreed sometimes it was a bit irritating with no private life at all yet most of us who has experienced it will vouch that there was real fun & that was real community living then! But the concepts of life were different & sharing was the main object of life. And this sharing wasn’t limited to just commodity things like grocery or furniture but the emotions were shared too, which was most important aspect of that life! No problem was considered of any individual family & joy was also of the entire cluster. Festivals were celebrated together & so were any functions from the family. Illness of someone in family was matter of concern for everybody & elderly person’s as well small kids were responsibility of entire community! Here no one was left alone to face his problems; a real society without any necessity for a legal title was in existence!

Come to our present tense, recently one hording by Pune Police caught my attention, there was a big eye painted & the tag line said “Use your vison”, means be alert & inform any wrong thing you feel happening around to the police. With all due respect to good intentions of the police force I wonder with present mind set of the people i.e. me myself & my family, how many of them will ever notice any wrong thing happening around! As who has the time or attitude to look around? As such is the situation that we know everything happening across the globe on a click but we don’t know the name of the family which resides next to our flat! Why in next flat we rarely don’t know what’s happening our next room where our kids are busy in their own virtual world! This might sound dramatic but that’s the fact of modern times. Even if you see the advertises of new projects which are being launched, it mentions three side open homes with total privacy & no one will be able to have a look in your home or few of them goes to a extent saying “presenting no neighbor homes”! We have tall sky scrapers with glass windows & showing us 180-360 degree view of horizon but we can’t see who lives adjoining to us! And when we can’t see who lives adjoining to us then where comes the question of whether we knows his  or her needs or emotions, as who cares for it? We have our plush lobbies, privacy, interiors and gadgets connecting us to globe but do mind we have no gadget which can connect you with your neighbor! All one has to do for that is just take a step out of our own door & push the bell on adjoin door & greet him with just a gentle smile! Unfortunate as for many this one step seems to be more costly than round ticket of the world tour. And then we need twenty four hours security, cc tvs, safety doors, intercom to security cabin, different safes in our bedrooms & all sorts of modern techniques which are like a price we are paying for our no neighbor home! Agreed there are some odd societies or complexes which do have maintained the wada culture by having gatherings together but how many such numbers are there in comparison to the numbers of buildings around is the question I will like to ask?

Many will say what real estate can do about it? Is it not the need of the people itself which we are responding? We can’t build wadas or chawls & ask people to live in them today! I don’t say go back & start living in chawl or wada as it has its drawbacks & times have changed; but at the same time when we change it don’t mean leave everything behind & move on. Here role of real estate is very much important as we are developers & let’s understand the true meaning of developer! We develop societies so we need to know true meaning of the term society for that, if we want to stand to the tag we proudly carry along! What we call a society is not just cluster of buildings & its luxurious specifications but it’s the people living in those building which makes the society! It’s these people we should work up on while we plan & develop the buildings which we conveniently rather wrongly call societies! No one says build some thing with no privacy as in today’s carrier oriented rat race life everyone needs some calm & quite moments of his own but that doesn’t mean cutting off from the people you live amongst. 

Man is a social animal & naturally his residences we can’t cut off from other men! There has to be places right from the lobbies to corners to courtyards where we should provide spaces to socialize & most importantly right from beginning make them understand the true object of living in a society. We are not making some one live alone or ask to live on footpath but a perfect balance between both has to be strike & your efforts has to make known to the person who is your client. This I call making your customer know philosophy behind your creation; as unless you have a dialogue with your customer & make him aware about such aspects of life how he will be carrying it forward when he goes & live in the building you have created! Once the person who is going to live in our buildings understands essence of community living then many problems which we face today are taken care in advance. And they are right from security concerns to society monthly maintenance charges disputes, which are major day to day hassles of today's so called societies!

It’s on this front role of real estate is going to be very vital as what kind of society we will be building depends up on us only & for that need is to cultivate the culture which will get people together. There only lies the hope of a better society where the residents will be at real comfort & peace; as these are the specifications of life which no money can buy but we only have to earn it!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
(Click the links below)

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

Think Green, Think Life

Friday, October 24, 2014

Transparency & Real Estate!

A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity…Dalai Lama

No need to introduce the wise holy man from Tibet as hardly there will be any who don’t know Dalai Lama! To my surprise I am using first time his quote , though he hasn’t meant it for real estate & he himself don’t need any builder as he considers whole earth as his home, yet when I read a news about transparency in real estate, I found his this quote as most apt for the topic! The news was regarding State Govt amending rules for real estate & no need to tell that was about how to nab the builders for making their deals more transparent as well holding them more responsible for what been in agreement. It was about the famous under making or forming Housing Regulatory Authority where all the builders needs to register their projects & will be regulated through set of rules or at least are supposed to regulate. Well, why it’s always the builders who come under the axe of any Govt is a question which often bothers me. Though as usual many will say, isn’t the builder’s worth of it? With due respect the real estate industry is already enough burdened with all kinds of known NOC”s, may it be Govt or semi Govt department. Does this regulatory authority is going to make any real value addition or just one more NOC, this only time will tell but what caught my attention is it mentioned of making the real estate more transparent!

To me transparency is an act which unfortunately in our country has become just a mere popularity gaining word! Right from politicians to top corporate bosses regularly use the term transparency to assure their voters or clients which in nut shell are common men! But we all know what it means as why one needs to tell that any particular body is doing transparent business? As if they are transparent in their dealings then let the end user decide it!

Since long real estate has been tagged for its non transparent dealings & if you as anybody & not just the customer, i.e. may it be contractors or vendors or even the professionals like charted accountants about the specie builder or more popularly developer then they will vouch for this fact. Nobody trusts a builder! Here many of the real estate people will object or get offended with this bold statement but if we want to improve then we need to accept our lacunas first! Had it not been the case then every media as well govt body would not have hell bend upon bringing one more regulatory body for the real estate! We have hundreds of other industries from Information Technology to Automobile & they too have their turnover in millions of crores of rupees & yet never such demand for transparency about their dealings with their customers has been made! This doesn’t mean all is well in every other industry than real estate yet somewhere the developers are lacking on front of the dialogue with their customers; at least that was the scene in first generation of developers.
Coming to present era of real estate a lot has been changed & the real estate people should take cognizance about this change which mainly has happened on two fronts. First is this is age of information & people are getting used to getting information about any deal they are entering in it. And second is the age group of the real estate customer has changed a lot i.e. now the average age group of real estate buyer is twenty five to thirty five & this younger generation is information savvy as well it understands all the modern age means of information exchange!  

Gone are the days when an elderly couple was used to walk in the office of the developer & behaving sheepishly like he is being obliged by the developer by selling a home used to sign whatever comes in front of him & felt relieved whenever he gets the key of his dream home finally! Now a day a customer wants to have value for his money & sometimes they do behave irritatingly but then that’s what this generation has been taught right from the beginning that never trust your builder. And so they are offensive on demanding everything about the deal from their first step in the builders office & if the builder is refusing to be open in whatever deal he is offering then that’s negative mark on the deal!

This is what real estate needs to acknowledge i.e. the age of information is here & lets accept it! I have come across many builders saying in private off course, not to educate the customers more than what is required. Here I have a different opinion; once you are educating someone then it doesn’t stop at your wish & will but at the wish & will of the student! And what’s there to be afraid of & more than that what’s the use if your are losing the customer along with his trust in this process! Rather with electronic media at our services we should be as open as we can as it doesn’t cost much in sharing the information now. At one click you can upload every single drawing to specification to noc’s you have got regarding your projects & in one single click you can pass on to the customer all this! And let’s look at it from the eyes of the customer towards the deal, for him its onetime thing & for the developer it’s a routine. Rather I am of opinion that real estate should share right from specifications to construction details everything a customer demands & even provide whatever he don’t demands, as that’s the best way to be in business now. We can have virtual site visits also now & uploading site progress on web as once a customer has booked a flat all his interest is regarding the progress of his work. And we can educate him about the workmanship also as unless our customer doesn’t know what is good & bad how we are going to explain him that we are good!

Another weak link about non transparency with real estate is the documentation, especially the approvals required for a project. Thanks to the home loan companies as now most of the legal documentation has been provided by the developer yet a much awareness is required about many other documents like various noc’s from different departments, mseb meters as well revenue title i.e. ownership documents which are equally important. We can make all these details available right at the agreement itself & upload time to time all the relevant documents on a web site of the project. This is the era where everyone has everything except the time & if that time is required to spend for getting some information about our own home then its most frustrating for the customer & this real estate should understand. We can even arrange a periodical get together at site of the customers who have booked flat in the project along with the contractors as well suppliers & consultants too! Let the customer know who are building his home & what they think about their job. And it’s not necessary that all the time you are giving information about just the project, you can write to your customer about achievements of your company or any particular law amendment regarding real estate or even current market rates of properties which are getting published in the news papers & even a news cutting regarding real estate can be shared via email! 

So many way sharing can be done with the customer; all this sharing will make him confident that, yes my builder speaks with me or is in touch with me! Even in management they says where there is dialogue there is smoothness in work & same principal is applicable in any relation; may it be at home or with your client!

After all what is transparency but an open dialogue between the people involved in a deal! And this has to be understood by both sides as any information is a weapon & it’s up to us what we are going to use it for? A deal or transaction is fair when any information regarding the same is exchanged for making that deal win win for both sides. This factor even the customers also should bare in their mind. Ultimately if you are thinking the builder who is going to build your home as an enemy then it’s not going to work. Always remember, “we get back what we offer to the opposite person” & if we expect transparency then we should offer the same! So if the builder is open enough & transparent & keeping a dialogue with a customer then as the customer should also treat him with same respect & open mind as well use the knowledge & information for understanding the home better & not just to point out lacuna's in the work.

If this simple funda of transparency is followed by all the parties involved in real estate then there won’t be need of any regulatory body & even if it’s there then no one will be afraid or offended by the same & I think it will be in the best interest of the entire real estate only!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

Think Green, Think Life

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Guardians of the City!


The Guardians of Pune City…

When I decided to write something for all the elected State Assembly Candidates from the Pune city, this was the first line which came to my mind as addressing you! As many won’t like the term being used i.e. “Modi Brigade’,  but throughout the campaign the way it’s been run what else but we can call it as a brigade of one single man with mission! Congratulations for the efforts of your tenure as sitting MLA as well as a Corporator, for those who have worked for the city in that role. Here is something I will like to share as a citizen of this City which looks at you with very high hopes….

“Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere. We can't always understand them, but we have to trust in them. I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.”...Lauren Kate.

Lauren Kate is an internationally bestselling author of young adult fiction. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages & read across the world. What we witnessed in recent State Assembly elections in our Pune city made me recall this famous quote by her. As outcome like who will come in ruling & things like whether an alliance will happen or not, will be cleared soon but what Pune as a city has done is historic! All eight seats from the constituencies of the city has been won by one single party, that too which is in ruling in central & sure the same party is going to play a major role in forming Govt in Maharashtra is a fact! As I have always cleared that I am not an apolitical expert & this sharing is not to analyze political issues; so what’s special about it then?

To understand the special about it we need to go in past, way back to 1995 when we have Sena-BJP govt in State & BJP with alliance in Central. Then also the city wasn’t having all its MLAs from a single party & later on there were alliances in State as well in Central & mix & match formula went all as well same formula got repeated in City politics. The city also responded in vague way each time i.e. out of its eight constituencies never there were more than two or three MLA’s in assembly from the same party. Many will say what’s big deal, its democracy & we are free to choose in whatever way we want to! But then we have seen the effect of doing so; democracy doesn’t necessarily gives right outcome each time & we have proved it in past! Because of the MLA’s from different party & each party in ruling having their own agendas, the city MLA’s were never untied on city issues & failed over last nearly fifteen years to solve any of problem united! Unity is the key to success & it’s this key which was missing in Pune & none other than the citizens were at blame for not electing right combination.

Outcome was all the MLA’s never getting united for the city’s various issues & not only just unable to get united but have different stands about the issue, the famous example if Hill Top Hill Slopes or call it BDP i.e. bio diversity park, which has held the entire Development Plan of the city for years. Reason?, Well each party has their own reasons rather say interest or egos to support or to oppose this BDP reservation & their interests & egos were represented by the party MLA’s resulting in total mess of the city’s development plan i.e. DP! There are so many examples of this cross interests of parties such as BRT as one party wants BRT & another didn’t. Then there is garbage depot location as well arrangements of dumping garbage as existing garbage depot is at village phursungi, but MLA from that region has different opinions about allowing garbage to be dumped over there & then no MLA wanted to allocate place for new garbage depot from his constituency as it will benefit other MLA’s but may put him in trouble! Another famous but equally important issue is about merging of surrounding villages in already extended boundary of the PMC. Here also political interests were at clash & the issue is lingering since last many months. Then there is most famous or infamous PMRDA i.e. Pune Metropolitan Regional Planning Authority, which holds the future of entire Pune as region but just because of no unity in all the elected MLA’s & again different party interests this very important issue has taken back seat on agenda of all the parties! Once upon a time the city was supposed to be the safest in entire country but after German Bakery blast & series of blasts on JM road, that’s no more the status we enjoy. But here again issues like strengthening the city police force or CC TV are being neglected & what we saw is just blame game in different parties for the same! Metro & Public transport to Water supply from the dam, countless topics awaits our MLA’s united action but time & again it hasn’t happened is a fact! All such topics just due to one common factor i.e. no unity amongst the MLA’s has made the city grow like orphanage at State policy front!

In all the last years it seems that the MLA’s have put their party ahead of their city & with due respect to all their good intentions about the city still they could get away with it is because that was the scene in the city. All the eight MLA’s of the city are supposed to be one single team which like a pack of hunter dogs will fight to nail & tooth with the Govt whichever is in ruling & get the city issues cleared for the citizen as they are like guardians of the city! At least that’s hope of a common citizen but what we were used to see is this pack fighting amongst themselves only & why they shouldn’t when they have excuses like “I am helpless due to party policies or I am for it but other MLA’s are opposing it for the sake of their party!” And citizens also wasn’t having any choice but to accept such excuses of individual MLA’s as that was the reality in many of the cases.

And all above issues were & are extremely important to decide fate of real estate in this city. As what is real estate for but providing a decent, simple, affordable home to the millions who are citizens of this very city & who have voted to a single team in hope of having their small dream of owning a home here!

This is what makes the present outcome of State assembly election not just special but very very special! As for the first time we have a real team which won’t have to give any above excuses for being unable to unite & fight for city issues. We the citizen of Pune have voted very wisely & all these MLA’s which are in a way army representing Pune in front of State Govt are of one party where the agenda & interests like things are not going to be hurdles in solving the city problems. Rather “development, development & development’ is the only agenda they should have now on their mind. Like the famous Spiderman Movie quote “With great powers comes along greater responsibilities”, the millions of vote to a single team is the greatest power this city can give to any team & so it has given. Now the same city expects to carry out the responsibilities along with powers & the expectations are very less. No one expects free homes or free bus service or free education & things like that. Neither nobody demands overnight gardens & flyovers or garbage free roads & twenty four hours water from taps. All this city needs is a sincere attempt by this army towards understanding the problems it has been facing over the years & whole hearted efforts to solve them! Like they say “aap ek kadam aage badho hum dus kadam badhneko tayyar hai” means you just take one step towards the goal, that one step will make the millions assured that yes they have put their faith in right person! I think that’s all the city expects as faith is most delicate thing to handle & once it’s broken then its non repairable damage!  

Year after year hope has been shown to this city & their faith in the system has been shattered by that false hope; yet again the city has responded with all its remaining faith to the call of development by one man who has shown dream of a better India to the entire nation! Remember Somebody’s faith is the biggest power one can have & now that power is with you; now it’s up to you to use this faith of the city as sword & cut down every obstacle in the way of development of the very same city. As that will be due respect & honor of the word faith! Our wishes are always with you in this battle!

That is all I wanted to share from the role of a common citizen who has voted, as that’s only thing he can do once in five years! So go ahead & make the city proud by being the best team in not only the State but in entire Country & make this city such that people will compare themselves with us!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

Think Green, Think Life