Wednesday, May 23

Here we go again

Any conversation about Bombay generally includes the following - the unbelievable crowds, the distances people usually have to travel, train schedules, the weather and of course, rents. 

Sometime in the future (assuming the Mayans are wrong), there will be a whole school of finance and architecture dedicated to the hyper-inflated, flagrant violation of decency and humanity that is the Bombay rent scenario. Since the number of people who've discussed, debated and despaired over it is beyond count, I won't waste your time with grandiloquent phrases about it. Bombay rents are inexplicably high. 

A space that, in any other city, would be reserved for the broom cupboard, will, in Bombay, have 2 beds and a desk parked in it, accompanied by an oily-looking broker holding a sign saying "Paying Guest accommodation - strategically located next to Whatchamacallit Station and Stinkstohighheavenwadi". Price negotiable (which means, you could have the bed depending on the sale price of a kidney on the day).

And the funny thing is, newcomers to the city are always confident about finding a lovely apartment in Bandra (or if overly optimistic, town) for the price of a very fetching town-house at whatever backwater you've come from. Within a week, reality kicks in. You can rent that 1 BHK in Bandra West all right. Along with 4 other people. After agreeing to sleep in turns and follow a very strictly regulated bathroom timetable. Because lord knows, everyone has to catch that particular train at the exact same time. If, heaven forbid, you even think about wanting a house in the fancier part of Bombay (town), you'll probably be directed to a pipe by the side of the road, which you can share with 3 others and the neighbourhood dog. At night. During the day, it is a vada-pav stall, you see.

So, after a few weeks you will choose one of two things. Either a house with one or more room mates in a decently okay part of the city (i.e. Goregaon and further north). Or a lovely 1 BHK within your budget. At Virar or Dahanu Road.   

Yes, I know about my pointed silence on options on the Central Line. In my defence, I know nothing about that part of Bombay except that the train schedules and crowds make grown men blanch. 'Nuff said. 

Personally, I've come out a little lucky in this housing racket. The room mate and I found a very nice, mostly furnished 1 BHK for rent about 4 years ago. In a moment of weakness, the owner and broker quoted a price which we jumped on, whooping and hooting. In that time, there have been a few quibbles of course. The overhead water tank flooded the house a couple of times. We also have an idiot masquerading as the watchman; he sleeps off at night, after locking the gate at 11 pm. To make sure no one disturbs him, he has earphones plugged into his phone and the piped music ensures that no amount of screaming, shouting, horn-tooting or begging wakes him up. But these have just added to the charm of things. 

As some bloke said, all good things must come to an end. Why, I wonder. The room mate is leaving for foreign parts and I've decided to live by myself, so we're giving up the place and I have to find a new one by July. Now, no one in their right minds will ever accuse me of optimism, so I was not expecting to find a 1 RK in the general vicinity for the price I had in mind. Still, after having spoken to a few brokers yesterday, the ground realities of rent increase in the last 4 years have been brought home emphatically. 

I am in serious trouble, readers. The great house-hunt game is on.

Song for the moment: Chasing pavements - Adele      

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