Law is an ass, they say – and it’s not just moronic MPs and MLAs who make ridiculous laws. Mumbai’s housing societies are no less culpable. The other day, one of my long-time friends said he is being forced to renege on his assurance to let his 1BHK east Borivali flat to me because his housing society refused permission. Apparently, singles are not welcome!
Once upon a time, in the last millennium, an errant, young single tenant threw an all-night party that turned wild (blaring music, free-flowing booze, littering, loud conversations, etc). Ever since, the society decreed that singles – all singles, including those in their mid-40s – shall be banned till eternity! No case-by-case review, no personal interviews – just a blanket ban.
My friend wasn’t aware, and he was as furious as I, but, understandably, didn’t want to defy his society.
I don’t quite understand this ‘singletonphobia’ which, it appears, is as powerful and deep-rooted as homophobia and other assorted aversions among Mumbai’s flat-owners.
And this in a nation where singles – bachelors/spinsters, divorcees, widow(er)s – rock! Let me just reel out a few big names to drive home the point: Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Vajpayee, Kalam, Lata Mangeshkar, Ratan Tata, Narendra Modi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerji, Jayalalithaa, Salman Khan, Balamurali Krishna, Rekha…. They are all singles, from all walks of life, aren’t they?
Given that singles are more common now, particularly among professionals (arguably the backbone of the economy that’s chasing superpowerdom in this globalised world), I don’t quite understand why Mumbai (allegedly India’s preeminent metro) continues to find it hard to accept singles.
It is not as if all singles create nuisance and indulge in scandalous activities. It is not as if all prospective single tenants would act irresponsibly and commit suicide secretly inside their tenanted flats. And it is not as if all couples and families don’t create nuisance and are saintly and responsible all the time.
It not just housing societies, even restaurants, cinemas and other public facilities seem to have a thing against singles. At restaurants, you seldom find seating for singles. Instead, you are shown to a table in a dark corner (as if to hide you from the rest of the patrons), or forced to share a table with others. At cinemas, ticket-issuers tend to quietly seat you away from vantage viewing areas.
Mumbai wasn’t like this before. Now, even Mumbai’s neighbourhood is getting infected with the anti-single syndrome. Matheran’s lodges and guest houses reportedly refuse accommodation for visiting singles.
This negative attitude toward singles needs to end. Mumbai needs to look at cities like Singapore and London to learn how not to discriminate against singles. More proper studios and 1BHK flats need to be let out to singles, if Mumbai wishes to retain its edge in a competitive world. Flat-owners and housing societies need to be more open-minded and align themselves with the larger goal.
Face it, singles are going to be a significant demographic chunk in cities. Housing societies, restaurants and cinemas would do well to realise that singles will increasingly wield substantial economic power. You can ignore / ill-treat them only by causing loss to yourself and the economy at large.
Well, law may be an ass, but, maybe, Mumbai needs a new law banning discrimination against singles?