If you are above the age of 22 and working in a city where your parents don’t live, you would have definitely gone through the ordeal of finding a decent house to live in, gone through the ordeal of dealing with obnoxious brokers, irritating house owners and nosy neighbors. Recently we were asked to evict our house of one year, given a notice of one month and asked to find another house to live in because our house owner’s son wanted to occupy the house. Then began the Herculean task of finding a good house to live in. Now when u are talking about 4 girls living alone there are obviously a couple of basic things to take into consideration.
1. proximity to office
2. no wine shops within half kilometer radius of the house
3. decent neighbors who wouldn’t look at you like they have never seen a girl ever before in their life
4. decent residential area inhabited by people of your kind
Now the trouble with our basic requirements was that these were the basic requirements of everyone searching for a house and hence such houses were very very few in number and after wasting a week thinking we would definitely get something we realized it wasn’t going to be an easy task. So my friends and I who have no clue what 7 am (or for that matter 8,9 and 10 am. :P) on a weekend looks like, have no clue where the classifieds section in a newspaper is, got up at 6 o clock last Saturday, bought all the newspapers and free ads we could lay our hands on and started short listing houses which would match our specifications.
Here is where I introduce you to a breed of humanity which in the disguise of a blessing is nothing but a menace to the society and especially to young people looking for houses. Brokers. In the past one week my friends and I have seen them all. Fat brokers, thin brokers, greedy brokers, stingy brokers, revolting brokers, seemingly friendly and completely unfriendly brokers. Having dealt with this menace the first time we were on the lookout for a house this time we were very keen to avoid them and hoped we would get a house without their assistance. Wrong!! The first lesson we learnt was that when u see ads like the following don’t get excited
Single bedroom house, rent rs 6000, III main road Gandhi nagar, brokers excuse, no advance
Now III main road Gandhi nagar is a wonderful locality and getting a house for 6000 bucks and no advance and broker fees there is something inconceivable and we obviously got excited, called the owner and at 7 the same day set out in search of the house. As we walked on III main road, saw the amazing buildings, beautiful apartments and tree lined roads, mentally we had already started living in the house, even making note of the vegetable vendors, proximity to the bus stand and other facilities in the area. Finally we reached old no 3, III main road which is where the owner lived.
It was a beautiful duplex house, with a nice garden and a friendly looking dog. (We even decided what we would call the dog!! Sigh!!) And then the owner took us behind his house to this rundown place which had last seen a coat of paint when India got its independence. The way to the “house” for rent was a long winding dungeon like passage which could hold only one person (a thin one, a fat person would have to walk sideways. :-\) at a time and we went in a single file to see the house. Personally I thought that like miners we should have carried a canary or candle to ascertain the oxygen levels in that passage and I am sure the candle would have blown out and the canary would have died on entering the house. :-\. Anyway it was a sad house with cracked tiles, cobwebs hanging from every corner and the toilets in trains were like mansions when compared to the bathroom.
We were desperate for a house to live in but not that desperate. It was then that realization dawned on us that searching for a house for rent in Chennai without the help of a broker is as difficult as getting some work done in government offices without giving bribes. It was impossible. Our experience with the brokers deserves another post and this one is getting way too long anyway. Will write about that travails of house hunting – part II