The transition of Parel-Lalbaug from textile mills area to corporate zone was a lost opportunity for the city itself, to lay claim and acquire a section of the vast 600 acres to create open spaces and affordable housing. Instead, the congested area saw an influx of new residents and new professionals. Executives who now occupy the gleaming offices find very little outside on the streets that supports their lifestyle or food habits.
The floating population of professionals has meant less involvement and non-monetary investments into the area. This often pits them against residents, particularly old-time residents. "If we ask for contribution towards a public function or ceremony, they give, sometimes willingly, sometimes grudgingly. But they never participate," says Madhukar Khamkar.
Between the old and new residents, often in the same building complex, there are flash points. A curious Pablo Holwitt, sociology researcher from Germany studying re-developed chawls, found that in one re-developed society, the old residents celebrated Dahi Handi during Janmashtami with gusto, while the new and affluent residents preferred to watch from a distance without participating.
Those who have accepted redevelopment have had fissures within the family, with some members preferring to sell the allotted new flat and move to the suburbs while others - older ones - want to live in their "own" area even if it's in a different way. Those who have moved into the allotted flats find that they have to make a mental shift to live behind closed doors all the time, pay higher maintenance and put up with disinterested - if not hostile - neighbours.