Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The House-hunt

A couple of months ago my friends, bro and I had the luxury of a once in a lifetime experience.... hunting for accommodation in Bangalore. Once in a lifetime 'cos a man would sooner be dead than have to go through the ordeal again.. and if he had to, the experience would probably kill him anyways. When we set out on our quest, we cockily thought that the entire operation ... looking at accommodations, shortlisting the ones that appealed to our collective senses and confirmed to our individual tastes, talking to prospective landlords, negotiating on the final rent to pay and shifting to the new place... all would be concluded in a month's time. And even that if we were being exceedingly lazy... after all how hard could it be to find reasonable accommodation in India's fourth largest city and its software hub? Turns out, it is very hard indeed.

It was not long after we began our search that we realized this was going to be a little harder than we initially anticipated. Most house-owner dudes just seemed to have seizures when we mentioned that four of us planned to move into the accommodation. Those that didn't, asked for exorbitant rents when they realized that three of us were employed with software firms. The average house owner dude's thought process seemed to work some like this... "Software engineer => earns a ton of money => deserves to pay more => will pay more." Still another class of house-owner dudes seemed to be under the impression that renting out their places to bachelors would bring upon their households the seven plagues of ancient Egypt. After they'd unceremoniously shooed us off, they probably went straight to the temple to seek divine protection from any evil we may have brought to their doorstep. Then there were places for which the landlords expected a pound of flesh in rent just because the Bangalore municipal Corporation had accidentally laid a road in front of their houses. And still others that expected the king's ransom in rent just because they felt like it.... I mean, what the hell. The entire population of house-owners in Bangalore seemed to have collectively lost their common sense and decency. It was like the house-owner was the tyrannical king and the house-searcher-dude was the harassed commoner. The house-owner could as well yell out, "What? Bachelor?? Sentry.. off with his head" or "Four of you searching for a common accommodation? I'll humor you... Sentry.. put them all in a single cell... a really small one." It was like that...

Here's a hyperbole of a conversation between the typical house owner chap and us:

Me: Sir, we're here to see the accommodation you are renting out..."
Owner: (After subjecting all of us to his searing gaze for a good minute). It's a two bedroom place. The rent is 10000 per month. Utilities charged separately. The rent should be paid on the first of the month.
Me: Ok Sir.
Owner: So, which of you plans to stay here?
Me: All of us...
Owner: (Eyes getting wider than I'd have thought humanly possible) What?? I thought one of you would be staying here with his family..
Me: No Sir. We're all bachelors.
Owner: (Nearly falling to the floor in shock...) Bachelors??? (Taking a few deep breaths and thinking happy thoughts to regain some degree of equanimity) Sorry. I intend to rent out the place only to a family.
Me: Sir, this (pointing to my brother who's lost interest in the proceedings by this time and decided to focus his attention on a cute number walking a stoopid looking poodle) is my brother and the other two are close friends of mine. So, in a way, we are family. (All of us putting on our happy, ek-duje-ke-liye-hum expressions)
Owner: (looking a little undecided now..)
Me: (deciding this was the time to go in for the kill..) Three of us are software engineers...
Owner: (All previous animosity now forgotten..) Oh, why didn't you say so before. Which firms do you guys work for?
Me: (Rattling out the names before the man changed his mind again.)
Owner: (Pointing at Girish, the non-software-engineer in the gang) He's not a software engineer?
Me: No Sir. He's an architect.
Owner: Ohh!! ( A poignant "Oh" that conveys both disdain and mild pity.) Civil engineer?
Girish: (Anger barely contained) No, architect. Civil engineers study four years. We study five.
Owner: Its finally the same thing...
Girish: (looks like he's going to lose it but somehow manages to keep from strangling the owner dude to the next world with bare hands..)
Owner: Ok. Rent would be 12000
Me: But Sir, you had just said the rent was 10k.
Owner: That's for a family. You guys are bachelors... the four of you will be sharing the rent payment. So you guys can pay 12k.
Me: (Still reeling from the blinding flash of the man's logic..) Ok Sir. If you insist....
Owner: C'mon, let me show you the accommodation... (and leads us up a dimly lit stairwell to the first floor and drives a shiny key into a door that looks like its going to come apart at the hinges...)
Me: (Having taken a grand tour of the house and astutely observed that apart from the single bathroom and ceiling fans that looked like they were in use when Lord Mountbatten signed the declaration of Indian independence, wardrobes were conspicuous by their absence) Sir, there seem to be no wardrobes in the place....
Owner: What do you need wardrobes for? You guys are bachelors...
Me: (Not quite grasping the complex logic he had hurled at me) Sir?
Owner: You guys don't have to worry about keeping the house clean and all that. You can dump the clothes wherever you want to...
Me: (Realization striking at last. Not realization about the owner's super logic, but that this was a total scam..) Ah!! Ok Sir. Thanks for showing us the place. It's really quite good. We'd like to discuss it further.. Can we have your number please? (already walking backwards and out of the house...)

So, that was about how the average accommodation assessment session progressed. Anyways, after about three months of painstaking efforts we lost patience and zeroed in on a place. And I'm proud to announce we've moved into our new place. Sure, all the faucets leak, the place has more ants than a king-sized anthill, the ceiling fans look like they were in use when Lord Mountbatten signed the declaration of Indian independence and the L-shaped living room's acoustics make the TV sound like its broken.... but atleast the place has wardrobes.... and two bathrooms... woohoo.... until later.. cheers.. :-)


At 8:56 PM , Blogger Guruprasad Kini (Guru) said...

Good post. But I must insist, for the sake of public interest, that you sprinkle it with more anecdotes. This should give sufficient warning to other poor people hunting for a house in this hellhole called Bangalore.
I recall that your current landlord is nothing short of a real-estate shark, it is amazing that he escaped the scrutiny of the great Mr. Deve Gowda. Your "Sarkar"-themed interview with him, mediated by his slimy agent, should make a good post by itself. LOL!
How about posting the vivid descriptions of the architectural marvels disguised as houses you came across? :-)

At 3:45 AM , Blogger Pushuka said...

Ya Guru, there's like a million anecdotes I could narrate about our experiences hunting for acco... and I will list them shortly. But I'm still recovering from a bad case of "life of a country gentleman" a.k.a extreme laziness. Hence the rather short post. :)

At 11:08 PM , Blogger the Monk said...

nice one,man...funny...that bad, is it?man, i guess this one of the reasons why my parents decided to move to kanduland only after gettin their own house...

At 12:31 AM , Blogger Pushuka said...

[Monk]: Yep man. It's about that bad... My dad keeps telling me to think about buying a place in B'lore. Maybe I'll take his advice... and join the ranks of tyrannical house-owners and really enjoy myself as dudes searching for acco. grovel at my doorstep... and then someone would publish a post starring me as the villain.... hehahahaha (I'm working on my evil laugh already..)

At 7:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was searching for weeks, and found it.



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