May 31, 2006
||Tribute (for the living)|
||, United States|
Eat meat? Hit the street!
New Bedford, MA Standard Times
The Associated Press Trendy neighborhood developments in Bombay are
increasingly shutting out non-vegetarian house-hunters and renters.
BOMBAY, India � Never mind pets, smokers or loud music at 2 a.m.
House hunters in Bombay increasingly are being asked: "Do you eat
meat?" If yes, the deal is off.
As this city of 16 million becomes the cosmopolitan main nerve of a
booming Indian economy, real estate is increasingly intersecting
with cuisine. More middle-class Indians are moving in, more of them
are vegetarian, and the law is on their side.
"Some people are very strict. They won't sell to a nonvegetarian
even if he offers a higher price than a vegetarian," said real
estate broker Norbert Pinto.
Vegetarianism is a centuries-old custom among Hindus, Jains and
others in India. The government reckons India has some 220 million
vegetarians, more than anywhere else in the world.
"Veg or non-veg?" is heard constantly in restaurants, at dinner
parties and on airlines. And the question has long been an unwritten
part of the interrogation house hunters must submit to.
But it's becoming more open, and the effects more noticeable, all
the more so in Bombay, which attracts immigrants from Gujarat and
Rajasthan, strongly vegetarian states, as well as followers of the
In constitutionally secular India, there's no bar to forming a
housing society and making an apartment block exclusively Catholic
or Muslim, Hindu or Zoroastrian.
Vegetarians say they too need segregation.
"I live in a cosmopolitan society," said Jayantilal Jain, trustee of
a charity group. "But vegetarians should be given the right to admit
who they want."
Rejected home-seekers have mounted a slew of court challenges to the
power of housing societies to discriminate, but last year India's
highest tribunal ruled the practice legal.
"It's just not fair. It's a monopoly by vegetarians," said Kiran
Talwar, 49, a prosthetics engineer who has seen vegetarianism take
over restaurants and groceries all over his childhood neighborhood
on posh Nepeansea Road.
"If you step out to eat, there's nothing for miles because
everything around is veggie," he said.
Vikramaditya Ugra, a young Bombay banker in search of an apartment,
said vegetarian colonies were fine in neighboring Gujarat, a state
dominated by vegetarians. "That's in tune with local sensitivity,"
"But to impose this restriction is not right in a cosmopolitan city
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