House hunting is an education, an experience that gives you a rare glimpse of the unmasked faces of people. Neglect not this education, is my advice. When I came to Hyderabad a year and a half ago I underwent the exercise for the ninth time in my career. Having seen houseowners in various other states, I came to a surprising conclusion that houseowners are a class with a lot in common whether they belong to Jammu or Hyderabad.
Shock, disbelief, hilarity, pathos, you name any human emotion, they have it. I began with a joker who came in contact online before I landed in ‘Nizamabad’. He took me for a rich cove who knows nothing about the city and a willing tool in his hand. The place he dragged me in was a tall building in Banjara Hills that was evidently growing sideways in a haphazard fashion. The owner was adding rooms as and when he wished with no proper plan whatsoever but obviously after greasing the palm of municipal building inspectors. The room on top that he found for me would cost me Rs 20,000 a month (a deposit of three months’ rent to be paid in advance). A creaky cot, a groaning fan, a broken wash basin were the furnishings, and, ha, a kitchenette that had a hole in wall for a ventilator.
Jolted, I began contacting people from classified ads. While attending to essential office works, I began the agonised journey in search of a decent accommodation for a ‘married bachelor.’ A specimen in Jubilee Hills who ‘interviewed’ me was puzzled as to why my wife is not with me. Having explained why, he wanted to know my eating habits and also a guarantor to vouch that I was who I claimed to be. I lied that I am a “grass-eater” and then he asked, “Do you have a servant who will keep my place clean every day?” Well, I don’t. I told him I believed in Gandhigiri and cleaned my den myself which brought my stock down suddenly before his eyes. My guarantor (my employer, no less) assured the guy I am a genuine nuts till now. But, a fellow who cleans his house and cooks his own food is down in the social ladder — for him, at least.
A ‘furnished guesthouse’ that sounded great crossed my path next. Rs 30,000 and food extra. Well, why not? He believes I have come here to labour and feed him. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I nearly okayed it when he mentioned that next to my room was a priest. I dumped it and thought lucky when a suave IT guy from the US of A came along. He has a flat in Malayasian township. I nearly sputtered a no because I can’t commute to Mayalasia every day. “But it is in Kukatpallay, 25 km from your office.” Okay. I went and saw the flat. It was spacious, airy but was cluttered to the roof with his things — ranging from pen to garden tool.
I was told that the young man, who got married two months ago, scampered off to the Promised Land when he got an assignment, leaving behind all the things he bought like a maniac here. It is 30k. Well, I took the flat.
But commuting proved to be a hell of problem. I thought all the madmen in the world assembled on the route during morning and evening hours and it sapped my energy. After two months I renewed my effort to land a smaller place, clean, safe and reasonably priced. It took three months of constant efforts and a packet of money in conveyance before fate took me to a place nearby my office. It’s small, but it’s no hole.
So, here are the lessons.
- Treat all house-owners in any part of the country as a common genre. They speak different tongues but are same in behaviour.
- Don’t let them believe you are desperate and willing to shell out anything
- Don’t be too aggressive, but not too timid either
- If the place is passable, try to strike a vibe with the house owner finding a common cause (like if he is a dog lover, pretend you, too, are, though you’d kick the butt of the first dog that came along)
- Women house owner needs to be handled like glass — you don’t know.
- And, finally, watch your stars; if forecast is pretty bad, lie low. Good luck!
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.