Living at an ‘intimate distance’

Between them, this family has lived in Bangalore, Delhi, Dubai, Kolkata, Assam, Benaras, Nigeria, Mangalore and Malaysia. But finally, it has dropped anchor in Bangalore.

Mohua Bhattacharjee, a freelance writer, husband Sandip, an aeronautical engineer, and their daughter Sneha first moved to Bangalore in 2005, and then later to Dubai. Sandip’s parents lived in Delhi at the time, while Mohua’s were in Kolkata. During the Bhattacharjees’ stint in Dubai, Sandip’s parents fell seriously ill. His mother passed away after a short battle with cancer, and his father’s heart ailment took a serious turn.

“Sandip travelled 18 times between Dubai and Delhi when his parents were unwell. There were times when he would land in Dubai, and would have to take the next flight back to Delhi because there would be a call saying his father had been readmitted to hospital,” says Mohua. Eventually, the family moved to Delhi to be closer to Sandip’s father and took care of him till his death. Soon, the family moved to Bangalore and bought a home in an upmarket gated community.

Soon, the family started worrying about Mohua’s parents, Dr Ashok Kumar Sanyal and Purabi Sanyal, who were also in their 70s. “My parents had settled down in Kolkata by then, and they had a lot of friends, neighbours and siblings there. But still, they were afraid of falling sick and becoming a bother for others. After a point, most of their conversations started revolving around which neighbor they would call first if either of them fell sick and had to be hospitalized. They started saving phone numbers everywhere. That’s when we started talking about them moving here,” says Mohua.

When her parents came on a visit to Bangalore, they really liked the community where Mohua and her family were living. Eventually, they decided to sell their flat in Kolkata, and buy a two-bedroom flat on the same floor as Mohua. “My parents were very sure they didn’t want to live with us. They like to have their own space just as much as we do. They have their own rooms, because they have different routines, different TV shows they like to watch, and they sleep and wake up at different times,” says Mohua. “And of course, we have our own lifestyle. Although they are very cool parents, it would be tough for us to entertain friends if they were living with us.”

Having two apartments on the same floor has really worked for the Sanyals and Bhattacharjees. Since Mohua works out of home and Sandip’s work starts only in the evening, they have lunch with her parents most days. Mohua’s mother cooks a few dishes and Mohua takes some of her own food over as well. They play carrom and cards together, and grand-daughter Sneha (who is teaching them how to use Facebook) often drops in to keep them company.

Homes for the new joint family

In Bangalore, the “living together but apart” concept is catching on even with real estate developers. Last year, DivyaSree Developers announced a new project 77° Place, with ‘Linked Joint Family Homes’ – homes designed for multigenerational families. Often referred to as a ‘doublement’, each units consists of two attached apartments, one of which is larger than the other. Each apartment is complete in itself so the independence of each family remains uncompromised. The doublements have a common foyer that connects the twin units, there is also a common balcony between them. Homebuyers can also opt for a sliding wall door between the connected units. The builder plans to launch three more twin-apartment projects.


An article by Shrabonti Bagchi,TNN | Oct 26, 2014

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