Friday, February 22, 2013

Moving Into A New Place

One would have thought of home as a place where you sleep, cook, eat, relax, entertain guests, keep all your belongings and so on. But wait, it is a lot more. When we live in a comfortable house, we take many things for granted, only to realize the worth of each and every thing when we have to move out of it.

Currently we are looking for a place to rent and have encountered several humorous situations during our hunt. My mental check-list starts ticking the moment we reach the proposed apartment building. Some streets bearing grandiose names such as Judges Avenue turn out to be narrow, dusty lanes where you wonder how your mover's truck will make it should you decide to take up the apartment on offer. Then the parking lot being promised for your car may turn out to be a small open space with hardly any room for manoeuvre, where parking a four-wheeler could be an expert driver's nightmare.

Large complexes and townships often have their own back-up systems for power, but smaller buildings having just a handful of apartments are generally without this luxury. It is in buildings like this that you have to be careful about how high your proposed accommodation is. A third or fourth floor (and anything above it) may become hard to negotiate if there are frequent power cuts when the lift is reduced to a small, dark cubicle incapable of taking you anywhere.

Once the approach road to the apartment, parking space for your car and lift is done with, the person "showing" you the place comes into action. A proud father ushering us into his expatriate daughter's apartment waxed eloquent about the unique doorbell that his darling daughter had installed at her place, and how it could be operated even if there was no power, and how it made different sounds every time it was pressed, and how special it was to her. I was tempted to ask the doting father if this bell even detected the visitors and unlatched the door for them, but didn't get a chance to do so since he had moved ahead in the living room towards the door leading to the balcony.

The mother of an apartment owner recently underlined the grievous absence of a well-defined place to keep your footwear at the doorstep before entering any home and went on to show us a small "teakwood" cabinet which she had thoughtfully placed at the entrance for this purpose. Her friends were aghast that she was giving away such a beautiful piece of furniture for her daughter's tenants, but she was determined in this matter, she said.

Most landlords like to regale their prospective tenants with detailed accounts of how they got some modifications done in their property to make it more suitable to their needs. But in their enthusiasm to show these wonderful amenities to others, they often forget that their needs need not always match with what a tenant is looking for. One such gentleman had disabled a bathroom in his brand-new flat in order to allow the maid to clean utensils there. And this utensil-cleaning-room-which-would-have-been-a-bathroom was opening right into the living room! Another building had a lift which was designed to stop between floors. So, after you get out of the lift, you have about eight steps to climb up or down. A compulsory exercise for compulsive lift-users!

We have had enthusiastic family members of apartment-owners insist that we take a look under the washbasin in a bathroom and see how cleverly they have made provisions for hiding the mop and the bucket there. A certain gentleman was ecstatic about the master bathroom being equipped with two washbasins, his and hers! They go about opening cupboards under the kitchen platforms displaying revolving racks for keeping bottles, drawing your attention towards the mirror that suddenly appears when one opens a cupboard in the bedroom, and opening the taps in various sinks and washbasins to assure you about the "abundant" water supply. A loving mother even pulled out pictures of her daughter's and son's families who had chosen to reside in distant lands, entrusting their aged parents with the task of taking care of their investments and property in their hometown.

However amusing these stories might be, I do realize that they are sincere efforts on the part of homeowners and their families to find a good tenant for their property ( salaried people with small families are often the most coveted tenants). It is as important for an owner to find a good tenant as it is for a tenant to find a good place. And if one can strike a deal without a broker, it is ideal given that brokers charge a month's rent from both the parties. What kind of deal we ultimately strike remains to be seen.

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