I was not very particular to write anything about house hunting in Delhi. But someone requested me to. Then I thought I can write down a few things, because anywhere house hunting is quite colourful. More so, in a metro city. Thanks to some friends, I got a shelter temporarily in Gurgaon which gives me some luxury with respect to time to choose and not to settle for something (very un-Indian) My office is in some desolate place in Gurgaon, still to keep up to our expectations of doing things during our job life which we could not do much during college, we have unanimously concurred to the need for staying in Delhi.
The first thing, I mean the first menacing thing that comes to my mind when I think of getting a rented apartment or otherwise, is the Broker. The brokers have come of age, nevertheless. Some of them are 'agents', some are property consultants and some are still poor old brokers. Having had the experience of dealing with people called brokers at Chennai, I stood in no deeper waters in New Delhi and indeed it was no more difficult. At least, I can speak and negotiate in not so alien languages.
So, the boring part was to search for the listings in the different websites on the net, which I finally achieved after the first day's laziness. Thanks to my joblessness and lack of restlessness, which is surprising to me, as well. Prad and I got the numbers of the brokers, spoke with them and decided to embark on our voyage to meet them the day after, on 15th August ie.
It is not so pleasant weather we are having and I hope the weather doesn't continue further! Even if it just drizzles, Delhi roads get flooded these days and Gurgaon becomes more of Gore-Gaon. Amidst all that, Prad managed to catch cold from somewhere. So, with the rains pouring, he stayed back indoors and I left for Vasant Kunj.
Having stayed in South India, and seeing Bangalore and Chennai, the areas outside the residential complexes in Vasant Kunj looked like as developed as the villages of West Bengal which voted for Congress or BJP. Prad has been trying to convince me that Vasant Kunj is indeed one of the most posh localities and I have been trying to understand that. The rate of assimilation of that understanding is similar to when I first tried to solve combinatorics problems in school without having read the text book. I saw a few DDA flats in Sector A, Pocket B & C and if I had not seen the two girls leaning off the balcony in one of the flats, I would have indeed never understood Vasant Kunj like I never understood Combinatorics till date. Anyway, so much trouble for such visual delights, did not really motivate me. I have become a fanatic for civic amenities like roads, because much of the time I am walking when I have nothing more to do (which is equal to the time when I am not in office). So I dissuaded Prad of Vasant Kunj stating even Gurgaon is livable compared to that place, unless you really are ready to pay some huge chunk of money every month, know some people over there and also have an imported 4 WD SUV that can survive the roads. No point for us, who will eventually walk out in good clothes and catch the auto to luxury.
So what then? We decided to look for apartments in and around Safdarjung Enclave, Malviya Nagar, Hauz Khas keeping in mind the fact that ultimately we have to go Gurgaon every weekday unless my/their true talents and potentials are recognized. Prad had enough of sleep in the meanwhile, all that his tall structure needed to get back to being restless again. So on 16th, we contacted some Mr. Raj of ShaamKo Properties and a few other brokers and fixed appointments on various hours of the day like true professionals (amateurs). Much due to the metro newly built, Gurgaon has got connected to Delhi finally for a lot of young people.
Not breaking the fast that started the previous night, we set out to find a place to stay in New Delhi. We just managed to get into the station before it started pouring heavily and boarded the metro at Sikandarpur. After getting down at Qutub Minar, we were stranded due to the rains and waited till eternity before the rains halted and the autos queued up near the station. Meanwhile, we enjoyed watching Delhi getting a little wet in the rain and the smoke rising not from the grounds but the lighted end of my cigarette.
After Chennai, any autofare seems reasonable to me. And happily, we left for the well known landmark Kamal Cinema in the Safdarjung Enclave area. We were jubilant having crossed the junction near the Qutub Minar metro station without any vehicle splashing the sewer waters from what seemed like the Yamuna redirected, on us, sitting inside the auto.
Mr. Raj was a healthy fellow with broker like eyes and mouth that spoke the language of Delhi. He showed us a few apartments in and around a branch of the DPS in that area. Much to my amazement, properties in Delhi are really costly even for rentals if you want a decent locality. For us, we were looking more for convenience than class (don't know why). So, we were not really excited of all that we saw and were considering Malviya Nagar to be the next place to see around. In the meantime, Prad's frugal eating habits led us to Deepak Dhaba, next to Rajinder da Dhaba just by the Kamal Cinema.
I ordered for butter parathas with extra butter to make up for the lacklustre life that I am having and also dal to boost up my belief in my own abilities. Prad, confident of himself, settled for Egg Rice on the road side Dhaba. A broker called us up as we were busy devouring the late lunch with some raw onions while standing. Another guy, standing right across us overheard our talks and asked if we were looking for apartments for rent; he told he has one right near to that place and ordered a sub-ordinate who was caught unaware that his master was around, to get us to his house near to the fly-over. I ordered for more butter to be added to my dal as I was also perspiring a little while enjoying the awesome parathas and the hope of getting a furnished apartment within our budget. The house-owner started to blabber about what all he had in his house and that made us quite excited even though we are not totally gullible.
So we caught another auto rickshaw, by then tired of telling people we don't have any vehicles with us. Mohammadpur it was! I knew this place. I had been in and around that place last year. This seemed funny to me, to be back to that place once again. But, it would not to you, because of course you would not know the reason. The man who had come with us, led us into a small alley by the tomb at Mohammadpur. By taking a few turns through the tortuous lane, it all seemed to be so much like some secret way of the Mughal Era, we reached a tall apartment with the sky almost not visible from the ground level. We took the steps and kept on climbing till the 4th floor.But to my glee, we had rose above the surrounding concrete and between us and the sky there were nothing except the inability to fly.
The apartment was right next to an old Sultanate monument and seemed like an encroachment. However, we forgot all that as we got inside. The comfort that the huge sofa sets promised and the sight of the spacious rooms with nice bedding and the other accessories and furniture temporarily quenched the in-satiety that has been burning ever since inside us. The terrace was terrific. It offered a full 240 degrees of view that was good and another upsetting 120 degrees that lay on the opposite minor half. It seemed quite a reasonable house to stay for us. Specially, the easy accessibility and the location really made us to think that we have found our place! Somewhat, ecstatic and yet apprehensive, we called up the house-owner who invited us to his office, near to the dhaba where we met.
Mr. Radheshyam is a rich businessman. He has a number of Dhabas, bars, etc located in and around Safdarjung and stays in Vasant Kunj himself. We did not quite understand why he was offering the apartment at the price he settled with us finally. The place looked good enough to attract a lot of people. However, during the long conversation over a cup of tea, glass of cold water, peanuts and the beer, that could have been unless Prad was so unwell, I could get that he somehow wanted a steady income from this apartment without any extra hassles. So, I guess we being working class bachelors, with docile faces provided him a reasonable solution for his concern. We talked to the other guy, who was supposed to stay with us and confirmed our deal.
While returning, Prad and I had to decide between Select CityWalk and Khan Market to spend our evening with each other :D. I suggested that I had enough of the humidity and the heat and took Prad to Saket. We roamed around aimlessly for a while, before drinking some water and finally settling down near to a programmed to play Piano. Thereafter we talked about the usual stuff and speculated about the apartment and its possible loopholes. We roamed a little more, this time with a more specific aim of killing some time till it was a little less warm outside. Subsequently we made our way back to Gurgaon in the same way we had come. Then, a little more happy and a little less worried, we got inside a McDonalds in Gurgaon to have the dinner. I had some Pepsi and my denial levels had reached its brim. So I tipped over to the other side and gave fundae to a seemingly less restless Prad for all that he had gone through. The day ended followed by a deep sleep till the next day that began at 2 pm for me.