Picking up from where I had left last time, I am boundlessly happy to tell you that the change and everything connected to it has finally borne fruit. I have moved into a new house with my flat mates from university accommodation! It is ridiculoulsy close to the university, and a dream to look at! I will let the pictures do the talking –
the reception opens into the kitchen.
the two bedrooms are large enough, fitted with wardrobes and separate heaters.
December has indeed been a month filled with a lot of madness. Having decided to move out of the univ accomms, Srini had started looking for places for a long time. But English property laws seem to be unkind to students. All of the property agents and landlords have a clause for renting their houses – “NO CATS, DOGS, STUDENTS AND SMOKERS.”
How ridiculous can that get! They seem to have developed an idea that all students are interested in making a mess of the house, not paying rent on time, and generally giving everyone a tough time. Therefore, anyone with an academic bent of mind and purpose should be slotted in with the cats and dogs.
I had not paid much attention to the house hunt as I was sure Srini would come up with something. And also, I had a lot of friends coming over in the Christmas break. All hell broke loose when Srini came to my room on the third of January. He had a message from the accommodations office that we would have to vacate our rooms the next day as our replacements had arrived! Radhika had come over, and was shocked (to say the least!) on hearing this. I had given her an idea about me moving out. But she did not expect it to happen right then! She then immediately changed her ticket back to York to the next day. I felt a bit disgruntled about her leaving in such a hurry. But it was fair too. Because she would have to tag along with me to Ameya’s place (as was the plan), an idea that she was not too comfortable with. So, she left the next morning.
Panic took over the initial disbelief. I packed my bags, which did not take much time. Srini and Priyanka had done half of theirs in anticipation. The biggest problem was that all offices were closed and everyone had gone out for Christmas. We could not approach anyone who could give us a house to shift in to. As it is, the vacation had been bleak for me (save for the great time I had with all my guys coming over). I had expected Christmas to be all fun and fireworks anc celebrations in the streets. But the streets were all deserted and empty. It was a quiet as a funeral everywhere. Bombay does not celebrate like this! Damn! Bombay celebrates every bloody festival, regardless of religion. Out streets are alive every single moment. And that is what I hate about this place. It is full of people. But it is not alive.
All packing done, we called up Ameya. He was, as always, welcoming and extremely helpful. He said we could come over and stay as long as we wanted. Srini then called up a cab to help us move. And they sent a tiny little car which would have toppled over if I put my monster of a bag in it! So that one went away to be replaced by a nice 9 seater Volkswagen Caravel or something. Mr. Leow was the driver, who was very chatty and helpful. He kept saying that his vehicle was not for moving. He took nice proper English families for picnics to Richmond Park. Bah!! Nevertheless, we started towards Ameya’s place, the van full of luggage, and Leow telling us how evil landlords and property agents are!
Srini and I put in our bags at 30, Windmill Lane (Ameya and gang’s house). There are already six people staying there. With our 27 bags in, it started looking like a refugee camp from one of those really dreary war movies! But when you are with people whose hearts are much bigger than the place to keep bags, there was no problem at all!
Priyanka had taken the shifting pretty bad. She had her exams on, and the thought of being homeless was weighing on her mind too much. But she hung on. Srini and I went around with the property agent (a replica of Karan Johar!) looking at houses which were on offer. One was too far from the university and everything else, but the rent was very low. One was a little close to the university and the rent was fine. Another one was supposedly very nice. But the key got stuck in the door! We had to borrow pliers from one of the tenants. Karan Johar tried his hands with it, promptly breaking it in half! The key snapped in two just like a twig. So that house was out of question. The repeated key cutting would take up almost as much as the rent! We got a call from another agent whom Srini had signed up with earlier. She showed us a lovely 2 bedroom flat close to where we were staying earlier. It was fully furnished, right from sofa, bed linen, quilts, tables and chairs, music system (with a turntable!), tv set, paintings, all kitchen utilities…all you could ask for! The agent then very slyly laid out the terms. Since we were students, we would have to find a guarantor who was a UK resident, earned 30 times the rent and owned a property in the UK. Or if we wanted to skip that, we would have to pay 6 months rent upfront. Nice.
Aaah!! There is so much more to the entire drama. If I continue, it would end up as the single longest blog entry on the Internet! Let me cut short to the last two days. Thanks to the house hunt, I now know how property agents function –
- They see how much you can afford.
- They assess your urgency.
- They show you ONE property on either side of your budget.
- They tell you that those are the ONLY ones on the market now.
- As you get desperate, they start showing you better places for ALMOST the same price.
- Now, they wait. Like a hyena waiting for a wounded animal to die.
- They look for signs of you giving up, and saying, “I don’t care how much it costs. Just give me a place to live.”
- And then, they sell you something that is similar to what they have already decided to sell you, for the price they have set.
I will not say here that we have fallen prey to this game. But I have seen Srini willing to pay six months rent at a time. I also know that it was his love for Priyanka, seeing her struggle with her studies, and concern for his own assignments that made him almost shell out six and a half thousand pounds. All through the time we were looking for a place, I was making my own calculations. Not about the rent. I even told Srini that the best and most practical way out of this was for us to split. It was more than easy for me to find a single room for myself. And he had already seen a place good enough for three close to the station.But eventually, we found a house. And yes, Leow was back in action to help us!
The landlady has been extremely helfpul in terms of providing us with what we might need. They had a two seater sofa when we saw the place. When she knew there were going to be four of us, she ordered one more. She filled the kitchen with plates, bowls, mugs, ample cutlery, lots of glasses (wine, whisky, beer!!). That saved us a lot of expense. Credit also goes to Karan Johar (his name is Mohamed, by the way). He has run around a lot for us, helping us throughout the process of getting references and easing out the guarantor bit for us. We are content now. The house is beautiful, to say the least! It is everything that we had imagined and more. Atleast for me. It reminds me of the time I was looking for a home in Bombay with my family. It is something that teaches you patience. Not everything you desire comes together just as you want it. Location, price, the house itself…you have to compromise on one of the three. Well, it does not work that way if you are a Mallya or an Ambani. But then, if wishes were horses…
As they say, buying a house and getting married are all about timing and luck! I have no clue about the latter. But I can be bloody sure the former most definitely is!!
bye for now. here’s a pic i took with srini’s cell camera. the little things are birds flying home in the evening.
symbolic? deeper meaning? well, that’s for you to interpret!