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Looking for a new home? Gauge its energies
'My house-hunt gave me sleepless nights'
So I'm in Mumbai now, looking for a place of my own, observing the travails my friend as he tries to move into an apartment of his own. I am of course, going through my crazy moments.
Finding a house in Mumbai can be an adventure. My friend went through a tough time trying to find the right house, the right budget, a reasonable deposit� to say nothing of tackling quirky landlords and cheesy brokers.
What does one look for when house-hunting? I keep tabs on my gut feeling. Do I like the house? Do its energies complement my random craziness? Can I roam around in it in my underwear? The moment I enter a house, I start gauging its energies. If you can't gauge it, the broker's commentary certainly helps you.
Cracking the broker code
Some apartments have a long-lost feel about it. It's as if nothing can ever make them happy again. They're too dark, there's not even the prospect of sunlight, the colour is wrong. It's perfect for a horror flick. The broker code for this is, "Madam, first class ghar hain�garmi main bhi bahut cool rahta hain... (First-class place ma'am, remains cool in the summer)."
Then there are the houses that appear to have everything� sunlight, air, view of the river view from the 11th floor� but no room. There's you and there's two feet of width on either side and then there are the walls. It's very easy to get out of this house, the door's never too far.
The broker's code for this matchbox apartment is: "Madam, first class ghar hain� aapkeliye bikul sahi hain� dekhiye naa... Kya view hain... (First-class view ma'am. Perfect for you. Just look at the view)." You check the view and find it is not a river but a drainage canal. He sold you the view not the smell!
The guessing game
So you decide you don't want drainage canals, you want a little more air, a little more space and some furnishings. The landlord asks you to guess the value of the furnishings. You guess it wrong. You don't get the house.
Landlord or Mossad?
The landlords dart a strange look at you if say you are unmarried. If you dart back a look that says, "That's none of your business," they ignore it. Suddenly the agenda changes from home to marriage. "Why aren't your parents looking?" is accompanied by a shake of the head which says, "Aajkal ki ladkiyaan� (These new age women I tell you�)."
"Hullo," you say, "I want a house. I already have a happy life. Thank you very much."
One guy went a step further and said, "If your parents don't have the time, why don't you look for someone yourself?" I was afraid he would volunteer to do the kanyadaan (giving away the bride).
There is also the other extreme: "You aren't going to get married in the next 12 months are you?" Why? Just because he doesn't want the hassle of finding another tenant within a year? He may not approve of the fact that you aren't married but sure as hell, he wouldn't want you to get married in the next one year.
Things are a more bearable for men.
First, the landlord gives my friend the look over and then pops the inevitable question -- "Where is your family? Shaadi hua ki nahi... (Aren't you married)? I will give this house only to a family." A resourceful candidate would say, "But my mum's coming to stay with me." Not one to concede defeat easily, the landlord begins his interrogation. Thereafter he comes up with his conditions: No alcohol, no drugs, no girls in the house (Ya right, our man has been fooling his folks for years and this landlord is hoping to get honest answers out of him).
One shady landlord came up up with: "Are you sure you are in banking?"
"Oh no," I said to myself, "I just drag myself out of bed in every morning only to fool bank customers that I work there."
Then he bared his real fangs with this corny line, "No I was just thinking what a beautiful girl like you is doing in banking? Shouldn't you be in modelling or the movies." I walked out before the optimistic creep completed his sentence.
But sometimes, something else happens. The frustration has started building up. You want to throw dignity and decorum to wind and start cursing and abusing something or someone.
When you strike gold
You finally find a house that speaks to you. A house that beckons you with its energy. A house where you can have a red wall, where the rent's okay and the deposit reasonable. It is in a quiet locality close to a shopping district. It even has a roomie (on a similar wavelength) to go with it. And everything just falls in place. It doesn't matter how you found it -- you've gone through friends, online communities, cheesy brokers, weird landlords, Mossad interrogations and survived. You have your own little place in this big city. You have just made a beginning and nothing else matters.
The author is a 28-year-old relationship manager with a bank in Mumbai.
Do you live in a rented place? Share your tips and experiences
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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