Saturday, July 26, 2008

Aashiana dhoondta hai

Two weeks into the new city now. It has been easier and more difficult than I thought. I call home twice a day, which is normal. I miss my mother, but that was expected. I hate being out of 50km radius from her. She complains I hardly speak to her when I’m home, but I simply hate not being able to.

Delhi is fine. I have been moving hither and thither, have seen two movies, gone to several of its beguiling markets, eaten out few times and met some really nice people. I like it. The metro construction renders the roads cramped and everyone leans on their horns, but what the hey.

Finding a house – a good one – seems extraordinarily difficult. Everyone who has house-hunted in Delhi assures me it is a task of gargantuan proportions. There seems to be a pattern. At first, there is an allocated budget and a certain insouciance; you will even imagine fondly that you will spread the word and something appropriate will turn up, thus making it unnecessary to cough up the one month’s rent the broker will demand. Reality check: no one around you has an aunt or friend who magically has a house that needs a good caring tenant. However, there are several property agents. On my second day at it, I opened an Excel sheet with columns for names, numbers, speciality areas and current status.

Then you begin. You are shown the most appalling houses in various stages of disrepair, in several kinds of bad taste. Up staircases so dark you navigate solely by touch and instinct. Down alleys where you hold up your trousers daintily, picking your way through vegetable (and other) waste. Or you find houses of which only one aspect is extremely right. There is both frustration now and hope. You tell yourself: if I could find such a happy location as I found with House A, accompanied by the nice woodwork in House B and the un-hole-like kitchen in House C, we would be set. Easier said, my friends. There seem to several such houses as you rattle through various enclaves, glancing about longingly, but none available to rent for the price you have in mind. So you inch up a little, and then a little, till you are considering some entirely ridiculous sums of money. This is where we are at.

Even then, the house eludes you, I am told, till you are quite on the threshold of despair and about to give up, give in and beg to be let into the Good Samaritans’ Shelter. When you are on your knees, the House will appear. Insha’allah.

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