The game of housing played in the current society
Sharp eyes, shrewd brain and a scavenger mind. He is constantly playing the dice. His only aim – roll the ‘double sixes’ as many times as possible. No moment of respite – for he is opportunistic. If he stops throwing the dice, this game won't just start. He is just not the first player, he is the initiator. A game where he knows that if he takes a break from, there is someone else who will replace him.
He appears to be a singular player, but he is one with several heads - each head specifically unknotting a thread. One may not know all the different guises he takes but his most common form appears rising from the streets in magnanimous, large sized, decorated creations of banners and hoardings. This initiator of the game has a name – Developer or Builder, you can choose whatever you want to call him.
This player has the first access. The access to land. His only intention is to convert the land into a saleable property. You may think he does this for everyone. But no, he does it only for a selected few. This selective choice is what gives rise to Player 2 – the one who waits to be part of the game. So, how does this Player 1 play this game of cajoling?
He begins to play in multiple ways, often unnoticed. On one hand is busy balancing his profit and loss statements, on the other both twisting and finding new ways to interpret the law. While he shuffles between throwing this dice to reach the ‘bank’ and to avoid ‘jail’, he also spends enough time and effort towards creating an aesthetic product – supplemented with enough greed that can be sold well in the market. A product he refers to in variations of bedroom- house -kitchen. And to this name he provides many other synonyms – plots, apartments, condominiums, villas, bungalows etc. etc. etc! For him it is never about shelter.
The only intent with which the player plays this game is to sell. He does not care to whom he sells; what happens when he sells; whether what he sells, will it ever have someone staying in them... He does not really care. He wants the product to read as ‘‘SOLD’’. What he does know however is the fish that he wants to bait. For this fish is always the same kind – for every product, and every single time.
The fish for whom all the products are floating in water. So much so that it is enough to fulfil his need and to supply to his greed. It is to satisfy and live up to the greed is why he plays this game. A game that he plays as a dual role – as the fish and the shopkeeper. As a fish, he is watchful and careful and as a shopkeeper he wilful and combative. This player is called the investor or owner of the product called housing – the centre of attention and attraction of this game.
Once he fulfils his needs with one product, he then starts to play again for it is a game of collection. Not just randomly but very carefully. He explores the bait through which Player 1 is selling it to him. The one with ease of connectivity, the one with a longer list of amenities, the one that has more bedrooms than the other, the one with higher percentage of green cover and of course the one that provides ample parking. Player 2 must be astute to make the choice for the offerings are innumerable and yet the same for each. Player 2 weighs this accurately.
He collects one of each, a few of each or if the dice rolls well, then many of each. At one level, he is connoisseur, just that he does not view them as collectables, but only as convenience. He collects only to create dependency, opportunity and (unknowingly) also scarcity for Player 3 to become part of this game. For this player, housing is an asset that he invests in.
Just like any other asset that he may put in a safe or a bank locker, only in this case he stacks them up horizontally and vertically within the streetscape and the limits of the sky. For him housing is not a place of shelter or where he intends to stay, but an inexhaustible resource from where he wants to earn.
His only responsibility towards his ‘housing’ is that of maintenance and he is ready for that with minimal costs if it meets the standards to be primarily ‘rented’ or even better ‘sold’ so that he can buy again. He oversees, overviews, pays attention to it – knowing very well, that there will always be someone, somewhere who is in need of it. Player 2 trades his ownership to allow for shelter – that is his game.
The one with aspirations in his eyes, the one who wants security and the one who needs assurance. He wants to be like Player 1 – roll out the best dice so that he can make a house – just one, or least Player 2 he can own a house – just one, but in this game for the moment he realises he can be none. He will always be the third player in this hierarchy – he remains the tenant.
He rolls out his dice. Always wanting to roll the double sixes, but he knows that any permutation, combination of any of the numbers would do. He just hopes that it is the highest number he achieves. So that he can approach a Player 2. Who is the Player 2 or the ‘shopkeeper’, it least matters to him – anyone could be if he is giving him the most appropriate opportunity to fulfil the need! Unfortunately, as player of this game he is tuned to be in search of goods, though what he seeks is shelter.
He is calculated and inspecting kind. He carefully balances the needs, the wants and the luxuries. He tries to get the best deal out of the market so that the ‘housing’ suffices to the requirements.
Closer to work, less traffic, able to accommodate others if need be, suitability towards food preferences, accessible to ‘happening’ places and one that suits a desired lifestyle. Importantly of course, the one within the budget.There is no way that he will not find one. The housing options are innumerable, Player 1 has replicated and reproduced time and again and Player 2 has enough collections to make a choice from.
All he needs to do is pick, choose and occupy. And so, he does. He carefully personalises so that it leaves an impression of himself within the four walls he resides. But on the back of his mind, he is also restrained. He does not want to belong there, it is not his house, he is just an occupier.
Forever he remains split within the tensions of ‘home’ and ‘house’ – what ‘belongs’ and what is ‘occupied’. He knows that if there lies a better option, he is more than willing to go to another ‘shopkeeper’ to pick up another article and be there for some time. Within abundant choices and the desire to be the other players, his belonging always remains subsided.
She is not the player who has any role with the dice. In fact, she is the board on which the dice is rolled open. From Player 1, to Player 2 and Player 3 – each see her as merely a board which is continuously to be plotted and planned upon to fulfil independent desires. As more and more players keep playing on her, only the size of the board increases and the demarcation of the boxes, so that she is capable to provide the needs of accommodating. She is the city.
The city as she stands today is a monopolised field – where in the name of shelter and accommodation, everyone is playing the game of housing. Where only the builder/owner has the first and only access to the land to create housing. The land which should equally have belonged or have equally been made available to all for making a home. But, that right now rests with the investor who multiplies houses in the same kind and with the same type of facilities. The house that should have been built so that everyone has an opportunity to own and not a selected few. This, thereby leaves only the last common denominator down the ladder – the tenant. A kind of player that should have been a temporary kind, but now is an identity that populates the entirety of the city.
Yes, there are still homes within theses houses but even they are slowly making way to be part of this game. They adjust their homes enough to accommodate Player 3, so that even they get a return on their investment. The investment? Their own home? Today each ascending floor echoes of this kind of investment and the first reaction to each floor is a question of its cost and not the feeling of shelter. Each floor today is an asset for assessment and no more a home for habitation.
Within this game of gluttony on one hand and the desire on the other, are closed windows, locked doors, empty balconies, hollow interiors staring at those homeless who continue to fill up this city. The one who ‘brick by brick’ make up these walls to allow for the game to unfold.
The ones on the streets, in temporary shelters in nooks and corners, in piled up tiny rooms, within crowded buildings, and adjusting their head under what is made affordable to them. They are not even players, not even spectators but just reciprocals of a product that reads:
“Welcome to Paisapolis” – affordable housing in the city. Minimum downpayment. Pay rest in instalments. Government approved. Sales open now. Get instant possession!