Monday, January 23, 2012

There are places I remember ... or, stairway to heaven?

A standard argument in urban economics/geography is that residential use of land is a residual use--only if commercial use of it is not viable.  Similarly, if money is to be made, then homes in an area can be bought, demolished, and the land will be converted to commercial uses.

My parents lived through this textbook explanation of urban land use.

For twenty-five years, they made themselves home and it looked like this before they moved out:


And that stairway to home has become the stairway to a store :)


The coconut trees are long gone.  No retailer wants coconuts to drop on customer's heads or cars!

Am mighty glad, however, that the trees by the road, which have grown even more, have not been cut down, but have been only pruned.

But, I don't seem to have any particular emotions attached to this old house.

It was Madras when I was a visitor from Coimbatore, and it was Madras when I was a visitor from the US.  It has been years since the city became Chennai.  Having always been a visitor to Chennai, I feel a lot more nostalgic about Neyveli and Sengottai, which stir a lot more memories of "home," than I do about the city where my parents and sister live.

Home is what we individually make of the spaces where we live, and where we create memories.

Which is why we do not talk about homes in economic geography.  They are only houses.  It is only the housing market. 

For now, as I type this post, home is far, far away, in Eugene.

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