Jan 14, 2018 00:00 IST|
London: The super-rich Indian residents of Grosvenor Square – and the place is teeming with them – will have mixed feelings that the US embassy is moving from their midst to a $1bn ultra-modern but less aesthetically pleasing building in Vauxhall, south of the River Thames.
President Donald Trump has refused to inaugurate the “bad” new mission.
Having the US embassy as a neighbour adds value and prestige to any property but over the years one side of Grosvenor Square has been turned into an ugly concrete fortress because of the very real threat from truck bombs.
The square earned notoriety on March 17, 1968, because of the violent anti-Vietnam demonstration, which pitched hundreds, including the likes of Tariq Ali, against British police on horseback.
“Grosvenor Square is about to be liberated,” the Pakistani rebel of yesteryear, now 74, noted in The Guardian.
“News that the US embassy is moving to… south London may be good news for local residents…”
Indians have always been attracted to Mayfair and especially Grosvenor Square where the spacious apartments overlook a green space full of mature trees. At tea time on any day Indian ayahs in salwar kameez can be seen minding the children and the family dog.
So, who are the notable Indians who have or have had apartments in the square?
Back in 2006, The Telegraph conducted an interview with Kushal Pal Singh, then the 74-year-old chairman of the DLF property empire, and noted: “He is talking in his Grosvenor Square apartment, which is so English, with its deep sofas, silver-framed family photographs and open windows letting in early summer sunshine, that it could be the set for a Noel Coward play. Only the paintings by well-known Indian artists and glossy books on Bollywood reveal its owner’s origins.”
The late polo player, Ajit Medtia, who was married to the Rajasthani princess, Shruti Kumari, the sister of the Maharajah of Karauli, bought a place in the square, as did the late Admiral S.M. Nanda and his hotelier son, Suresh Nanda (who hosted many parties when he held the London franchise for The Asian Age).
Of late, the Lodha group “purchased the Canadian High Commission in (No 1) Grosvenor Square for £306 million,” property agents Wetherell reported. “The Lodha Group plan to turn the seven-storey 135,000sqft High Commission into a scheme of over 40 luxury residences.”
Wetherell revealed that Indian purchasers were now the largest group of overseas buyers in Mayfair.