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life in the metropolis

Apartment culture helps you bond better

Apartment living is redefining life in the metropolis. The cross currents of different cultures merge seamlessly into a potpourri culture, that is unique to an apartment. 34-year-old Hemanth Kumar (not his real name) who has been staying in an apartment on the eighth floor for the past two years, defies description. He speaks Bengali, Kannada and Tamil, apart from English and Hindi, and can give you a lecture on the elaborate rituals in a Punjabi wedding, on Tamil cuisine and Karnataka’s dolu kunitha and
Who is the real Hemanth Kumar? He is a native of Siliguri, a picturesque town on the China border, now settled in IT City, Bangalore. “When I moved in first to my apartment, I was very insecure and felt like a fish out of water,” he recalls. From the north-east, the southern part of the country seems like a different country, different in culture, customs, food habits and lifestyle. Bangaloreans are of course a warm and friendly people, and so it did not take long for the Bengali to get accepted.

But what made Hemanth feel at home and “one of us” – and a more well-rounded personality – was living in a flat surrounded by a hundred neighbours (on all sides!). Apartment living has a distinct flavour all its own, though it has to be stressed, not all of them. The experience is life-enriching only when you enjoy the amenities needed for a better quality of life.

A good quality of life bonds neighbours better. At the apartment gym, you make friends and chat up with them at the water cooler. You share a walk – and more – with your neighbour at the landscaped walkways. You share some quiet moments with them, as you stop by to smell the flower in the in-house garden. At the coffee shop, you break bread with them and indulge in some good-natured banter or some serious debating. All this strengthens the roots for good community living.

Hemanth Kumar attended a Punjabi wedding of his neighbour’s, and cherishes those moments even today. With the enthusiasm of a child, he rattles off the names of the rituals he witnessed – the songs of Dholaki, Goriyan and Suhag, the Phera around the havan and Kanyadan, the ladies sangeet and Juta Chepai, the Roka (a ceremony where the parents of both the sides, brothers and sisters assemble at the girl’s house and exchange gifts; it signifies that the boy and the girl are affianced to each other), Sagan (when the engagement is confirmed), the churha (bangles ceremony), Sehrabandi (a ceremony that takes place before the boy leaves for the bride’s house), the Baraat, and the pherey (the actual wedding).

Likewise, Hemanth also has cultivated a taste for the Tamil cuisine and become a connoisseur of the Iyengar favorite, Vetha Kolumbu. That he is also a Rajni fan goes without saying! The local culture of Karnataka? Sakkath hot maga, best expresses his fancy for the Kannada culture and Mysore Dasara. Given that Dussehra is the biggest festival for Bengalis, Mysore – and the elaborate Dasara rituals there – is like a second home for him.

What a transformation for a Bengali bong to experience a variety of alien customs in an alien land with people who speak an alien language! That’s apartment living in a nutshell.

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