Saturday, October 8, 2016

"The House Hunter Chronicles" The weird brokers, the angry owners and the tired souls

The absolute joy of searching and renting a new apartment every year can only be aptly described as this title does!
The nomadic life of struggling to plant roots without the ‘loan’ and ‘apna apartment’ can only be experienced!
It is overrated for those who have stayed put in one house forever, and weirdly amusing to those who lend us ‘nomads’- the much needed help while shifting.

There are various types of these ‘working class - professional’ nomads who are forced to rent - stay – vacate - repeat:
-      The anxious: “worry worry from packing to searching to moving to everything… bottom line is ‘I must worry’

-      The fighter: “I will fight till the last penny owed to me is handed to me by the owners, woh paisa mera hai!”

-      The chalta hai: “acha wapas shift karna hai? Ok” (“oh we have to move again? OK”)

-      The prepared: will have all the numbers required right from Prabhakar Pest control, Ahmed uncle movers, gas wala ‘stylo guy’ to murthy bhaiya bisleri wale.

Now after my 7th house shift - in as many years in Hyderabad… I can safely say I am all of the above! Leaving aside the fact that each house move was a different ordeal in itself, … each shifting has shed new light on the species we call as the ‘owners’ and even further light on me as a tenant/tired soul. Moreover it’s been hilarious in great many ways due to various specimens of humanity that I have encountered!


The weird brokers:

Of all the brokers I have met, this episode stands out! This was sometime in 2014, when I and my friend Anu, were looking for a house:

It was a usual dull thursday evening, both of us met up after work around 5:30 pm to meet this 10th broker of the week and to check out a few apartments. It was going to be probably the 50th house we were seeing in the past 2 months…. and all were pretty much beginning to look the same…

Venue: Some apartment complex with 8 floors and maybe 4 to 5 apartments on each floor

Starring: Shraddha, Anu, Rehman Bhaiya broker and the drunk/stoned/maybe both - watchman

*The broker scene – no retakes*
The drunk watchman being rudely woken up by the broker bhaiya (it took a little more than 15 mins of shaking and shouting) as both of us stood uncomfortably some distance away to the broker’s continuous pep talk –“ madam usually aaisa nai rehta”….. “ raat ko late soya hoga”…. “humesha duty pareech rehta unno”… “first time aaise dikhra mereko”
(“madam, this is new……., he is usually wake and…….. alert, he is a good watchman…….., maybe he slept late last night”)

We just nodded more to each other than the broker though.

The fun started when the guy actually woke up. He first stood up like he was never asleep, shouted a few orders to his invisible (I am assuming) family, then tried to strut the rest of steps to the lift and promptly fell.

Somehow we managed to get into the lift while the broker - I can only say restrained - the watchman from further ‘bond’ moments. After the lift announcement told us about 5 times to “please close the door” the watchman managed to close the rails and hit 4th floor.

For the lack of anything better to do (and avoid starring at the watchman who was now slowly oscillating back and forth on the balls of his feet --- and would have hit the lift rails, had it not been his urge to smile stupidly at us every now and then),
I start quizzing the broker:  "bhaiya, fully furnished hai na?" (is the apartment fully furnished?)
*no answer….and to our surprise, the broker resorts to furiously nodding and winking and shushing while trying to duck behind the blankly grinning watchman’s back*

This would have been convenient and served the purpose if the watchman had resembled a bear and the broker was a skinny chap…. However here was this hugely proportioned beefy broker who was trying to shift his bulk behind a chap who would have slipped through the lift rails had he been standing sideways.

Not finding the correct answer I persisted:
 "bhaiya yeh rent kitna hai?" (how much is the rent?)
*no answer again….vehement nodding and winking by the broker continues, this time accompanied with furious foot tapping*

By this time thankfully we reach the floor and the drunk watchman slowly opens the lift while suspiciously looking at the broker, as though his foot tapping had suddenly jolted him from his grinning reverie.

It’s a corner flat, we walk in and it looks like we entered a horror movie set – the place looked haunted, dusty and was not furnished! We both come out in about 2 seconds to find the broker yelling at the watchman that he had brought the wrong key and it was not this house that he had intended to show.

The now – fully suspicious watchman - still drunk though and not fully in control of his faculties - provided some entertainment for the next 10 minutes aided of course by the broker – who had stopped winking and nodding and had resorted to furiously pacing the corridor while talking into his phone- to (what we could garner) his boss - to understand which house he should show.

Like a slow CPU processor which has just realized the computer has been turned on - the watchman followed the broker – occasionally stopping to help us relive his grinning moments.

Anu and I spent the next 10 mins outside near the elevator watching the slow moving broker desperately trying to shake off his watchman shadow by swiftly changing his direction while walking in a 6 feet by 6 feet corridor space.

When we felt the entertainment has last long enough, we decided to leave only to be estopped by a series of mysterious facial signals by the broker which again involved a lot of winking/ glancing/ nodding /raising eyebrows /opening and closing of the mouth. Oh the watchman was grinning on the side of course.

Finally with no help from anyone (surprise) - the watchman decided that he should go down and get the right set of keys! I am sure it must have felt like the ‘eureka’ moment for him given that he suddenly stood up erect - and announced: “I go get new keys from down….madams stay here” (points at the floor and stares for 2 mins) and then abruptly gets into the lift, gesturing the broker to follow him.

The broker on the other hand looked delighted that his shadow was finally leaving but his face fell when he realized that he was to follow the shadow.

What unfolded next was nothing short of strange, now when the two of us think back, we don’t know why we even followed through: The watchman hits ground floor button and begins to close the rails, the broker promptly jumps out at the last minute and closes the rails and the elevator goes down with only the watchman.

The broker then shoots past us to the floor on top remarkably swiftly for all his bulk and yells "madamji!!! jaldi aayiye…..ghar upar wale floor pe hai" (madam quickly, the actual apartment is on the top floor)
And we follow him up the stairs like a spy movie and we are told by the broker (in hushed voice at a breakneck speed) that we need to pretend that the last house on the 5th floor belongs to our long lost friend (suddenly created) and we have to visit them (or the world might end) with that on parting note the broker suddenly nods and winks again and leaves us at the doorstep of a flat on the 5th floor. He rings the bell and backs up saying,” "woh watchman ko pata nai chalna chaiye ki aap yahan ho" (the watchman should not know that you are seeing this flat) (imagine voice slowly trailing away as he walks off)

We both were well – extremely startled/ open mouthed/ what's happening? …when the door opens to reveal an aunty who shows us the house with great interest….By then, the two of us were so startled and distracted that seeing the house and how it looked like is the only thing about that evening we have completely forgotten.

When we step out of the house…. we see both the watchman and the broker stepping out of elevator at the same time, walking hurriedly towards us and asking simultaneously "madam kahan gaye aap"? (madam where did you go?)


Anu: "humari friend yahan rehti hai jo bimar hai…. usse dekhne aaye the"
(“our friend is ill and we came to see her”)

I am surprised at the sudden fluent lie. I stop to look at her… and by the look on her face she is surprised at the lie as well!! Watchman is startled (still suspicious but startled… a weird combination on his already excellent drunk face). Broker gives Anu a nice warm brotherly smile and glances nervously at the watchman.

Anu has this vague expression about her as we leave the building, something akin to – well that’s that, let’s get to business now.


“Aah Shraddha, see there is a veggie truck, let’s buy veggies here only then”

* end *

Friday, April 6, 2012

Finding Inner Peace in Ladakh

The article I sent to the Dr Reddy's initiative for employees: My personal story of change.....

About a year back, August 2011, I had volunteered to teach science and dance at SECMOL School, Ladakh (The Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) for about two weeks. SECMOL is a unique school that admits school dropouts from Ladakhi villages for about a year as part of a foundation program to improve their basics. They accept volunteers all year round to help assist the permanent staff in teaching the children. The students are mostly 16-17 years old but they are very unlike any 17 year old you would come across in a city because they manage the everyday running of the school and the hostels.

Responsibilities of cleaning, cooking, feeding the cows, going to town to get supplies, general administration is all handled by the students. And they do this in addition to attending all the subject classes and special cultural classes conducted by the volunteers. The most amazing part is that they do everything with the same enthusiasm and spirit. Be it learning dance or difficult equations in math or cleaning the toilets or carrying buckets of water up a slope multiple times a day, anything and everything with the same happy smile on their face and a song on their lips. The school has a policy of recycling or reusing in different forms almost everything they need to live like compost toilets and solar heating panels. The one which hit me hard was the compost toilets; believe me, that is very very difficult to get used to.

Ladakh is a very tough terrain to stay in and is surrounded by army posts and the military. A total contrast to the environment in Ladakh was the happy faces and the non-complaining attitude of the students. Makes you think about how many times you crib in a day for immaterial things. They stay away from their home (mostly remote villages) for years to learn and improve their knowledge. And they do it with a focused mind…. ‘I have come here to improve myself and learn whatever that I can and I am going to do it and do it with happiness’. Their approach towards life and everything it throws at them is awe inspiring.

I went there to teach but I ended up learning a lot more than any school or educational institute could teach me. ‘It is not that hard to live a life of self-sufficiency and contentment’ and nothing in life is that difficult which a smile and a positive attitude can’t cure.

It is true…’Smile and the world does smile with you’


-Shraddha Narayanan, IPM, Biologics


original post at: https://interact.mydrreddys.com/blogs/W67a744b0e7d9_4d29_b16e_1be8ae21c486/entry/finding_inner_peace_in_ladakh?lang=en_us


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Its been 2 Years Gang!!!

Hey!! remember the day
not a very long time away
No It was not the fire alarm bell
rather I had walked into DRL

You had thought I was sincere and quiet
incapable of speech or a laugh riot
You did not know then that I could be witty
or react (obviously) to the word 'pretty'

It took a while to know the girl on my left
at painting she is pretty deft
The 'hey matching' episode got us going
and we went to all movies that were showing!!!

The girl whose chair kept being pulled
had hunger pangs like me too
She showed me a dance step while sitting on her seat
and I thought hey, well!! that's pretty neat!!!

The girl who sat on the big glass's other side
yes the glass on which I banged my head, twice
Work, shop, hog, night outs and late walk ins..
no wonder we are called the ‘Evil Twins’!!!


The girl who is my foster family member
and has been singing ‘teri deewani’ since december
She was my partner in planning the celebrations
and even learnt all my dance formations!!! 


Tts been a while since I arrived 
but it continues to be a fun ride
It would have been impossible though
had you all not been with me so...
I have to tell all of you this
coz you are my friend I am in "Perfect Bliss" :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The day I starred in a Movie!!

There are folks who work in my neighboring porta
who have creative genes ka bharpur quota
They said chalo lets make a movie
and were met with an enthusiastic Oh groovy!!

Its about four guys who are lost in translation
and a new city provides them a revelation
Language is never an issue
when you find companions just like you

The role of the HR required someone trendy
and of course they approached 'yours truly'
Come on! I need a grand entry
after all this is my poetry!

The word 'action' had a dramatic effect
the camera and I had an instant connect
The trouble started when dubbing was beginning
I realized I had to perfectly reproduce my previous 'overacting'

All in all, it was a fun deal
it sent spinning my creative wheel
And if i ever get bored of the legal sphere
Acting is definitely my alternate career

By working on the subtitles in English
I have the perfect words for a big finish
As they say in the cinema jargon
lets hear it for Lights! Camera! Action!!


© Shraddha Narayanan, 2011


Catch the movie at:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Hyderabadi Traffic!!!

The Hyderabadi Road:

The VOW: There will not be less than 5 potholes of undefined size and shape for every 20 feet of road”

No matter where you are in Hyderabad…. If you ask for directions … its always…”seeeedha jane ka…ek hi raasta ….ek hi raasta”… the only trouble is the ek hi raasta is more intertwined than a creeper plant… and the seedha jaana involves a number of U or Y or W or Z junctions…. Now you can figure out which is seeeedha!! J

The distance of your destination probably depends on the number of eeeee’s in the seedha… The more the stress on the eeee’s the further you need to go…

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The Hyderabadi Autowalas:

Auto mein bethte hain Saath instead of Char!

Adjust karna sikha dete hain yaar

Any time argument ke liye bhi hain ready

But kissi bhi gali ya nukkad se nikaal lete hai gadi

Traffic ko beat karna hai toh without sorrow

Apni car me autowale ko karo follow…

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The Hyderabadi bikers:

The VOW: We will resemble a swarm of locusts; with or without helmets”

Recall the humid weather in Hyderabad (actually in most of india) …. and those little tiny black insects which annoyingly hover in front of your eyes…. You can never seem to swat them or catch them in your hand or drive them away by any means…. They are just there, getting on your nerves… I am sure they are called ‘the hyderabadi bikers’ among the arthropods!

My guess is the bikers suffer from Macropsia (condition affecting visual perception, in which objects appear larger than normal) coz no matter what the distance is between two cars at a signal… there will invariably be 6 bikers nosing their way into the gap!!!

And they believe by contorting their face and squeezing their stomach in…. the bike too will magically contract and suddenly transform to be dimensionally suited to fit perfectly in the space between two bumper to bumper cars…

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Q: What is the function of the rear view mirror on the bike?

A: Miyan bolu toh aapna shakal dekhne ke vaste, ya peche begum ko dekhne ke liye ji!!

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The Hyderabadi 4-wheeled Racers:

The VOW: We will avoid all the potholes on the road by our superior non-speed reducing swerving techniques”

First there was Lorenz’s Chaos Theory and then there were four-wheelers on the hyderabad roads!!

They are Androids on a mission. Androids with Ataxia (condition that causes unsteady and swaying walk). They are programmed to reach from point A to B and that’s it…. And they firmly believe in Displacement (rather than covering the actual distance). They have passed the SSB test (not the service selection board…) and have the three words in ingrained in their heads when they drive…

1) Swerve like Tom Cruise in MI-II

2) Speed like the bus in Speed… below 50kmph is an insult

3) Brake like… Brake?? HUH??

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Q: Why have the side view mirrors been removed from the car?

A: Kya yaaron….. peechu se gadi aake distract marta… indicator marta ya headlight marta… uske vaaste aage vali gadi ko overtake nako kar pata mein.

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The Hyderabadi Pedestrians:

The 3 solemn vows!!

VOW 1: We are direction dyslexic: will make sure we look right when the vehicles are coming from the left and look left when vehicles are coming from the right; or better still we will look at our watch/wallet/stop and pick our nose, precisely when crossing the road”

VOW 2: We will dance the shuffle in front of the vehicles… moving front-back, right-left with a Rowan Atkinson expression on our face, while our cerebellum slowly decides ‘to cross or not to cross… that is the question’ ”

VOW 3: We will choose the exact moment when the signal turns green to run in front of the approaching vehicles to the other side with the conviction of Usain Bolt; and tell the adventurous story to our friends later in the day”

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Morning Fever!!!

I woke up today with a start
and felt my head jump with a snort
I wondered whether to restart
my head, coz I was not feeling very smart

To my head, I applied a connection
and all I got was a rejection
When I told my sleep to go away
my brain replied "yeh suvidha uplabdh nahi hai"

Then I thought why bother
I can always hire another
but apparently brains are hard to find
Especially if you are obsessively aligned

Then I gave up altogether
why not experience a brainless slumber
And when I will be asked to work
I can dance and go berserk

Mujhse pucheege log dobara
Kya bajgaye hain tere baara?
Chal zaara haule haule
Par mein toh karungi BALLE BALLE!!!


:)

©shraddhanarayanan,2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I LOST my Passport in LONDON!!

Note: London local time has been used in this narrative

Trip: October 2009, exactly 2 years ago!!!

I landed in Heathrow, London, 9:55am; immigration hardly took anytime and I was out by 10:30. Since my cousin had not yet arrived to pick me up, I opened my laptop and updated my 'social networking sites' to "In London for 2 weeks :)"

Sneha (my cousin sis) and Jiju (brother in law) arrived at about 11am and we left by the London tube to reach their place. We had to change 2 trains and then take a cab to reach Essex (they stay there), should have taken us about an hour and half.

The PLAN: was to reach home by about 1:30pm, have lunch and go watch movie and local site seeing in the evening. But what happened was I did not see Essex and their house till 9pm in the night...

….Why you ask??? read on…..

I checked all my belongings after I got down from the first train and we changed to the second train at about 12:15pm.

1:15 pm: got down from train 2 at East Ham; as soon as I got down realized that I did not have my passport. I checked my bags, my cousin checked too. Everything in place, except my PASSPORT!!!....

1:50pm: Jiju informed the tube station office at East Ham, they informed the Barking station were the train was headed coz.... the authorities check the train before it heads out again...... to see if had my passport

2:00-2:30pm waited in the station for news from Barking. NO NEWS....NO PASSPORT

2:30pm: East Ham train station authorities told us to report it to the local police station. Either the staff on the train could have picked up my passport or member of public could have picked up my passport. So it would either go to the station authorities or eventually land up in Baker Street (lost property office) or with the Police.

2:45pm: I and Jiju walked to the East Ham police station to register the loss.

3:00pm: The police officer told us we have to go to BTP and register our loss there as all tubes are under their jurisdiction.

BTP: being British Transport Police. BTP was in a Ham too but West Ham ( 20 minutes from our current location)

3:15pm: Back at East Ham train station, we put my big bags and Sneha on a cab to go home, and Jiju and I took the tube to West Ham to go to BTP.

3:50pm: Reached West Ham BTP station.

First impression: as if I had entered Tom Cruise's office in Minority Repot. A nice police man took our loss, made out a report on paper gave us a reference number. We needed the reference number so that we could tell the Indian Consulate about the lost passport and get temporary travel documents so that I can go to India...... phew!!!!!!!!!!

4:10pm: Registered the loss, got reference number and number of Indian consulate and got on train back to East Ham.

4:30pm: reached East Ham....finally got through the number and spoke to INDIAN Consulate.........and according to them as Saturday, Sunday and Monday are holidays we should register the loss of passport only on Tuesday at their office coz no one works on weekends and LOSS of PASSPORT is NOT important and that guy cud not understand why we were upset about losing an Indian passport in a Phirang Land.

We wondered what he thought the function of a passport was....

4:45pm: Daddy calls me from India and gives me a number in London. The owner of that number had my passport. WAIT!! Huh??!!! How???? HUH???

5:10pm: we talk to the guy and take his address.

Central London, Trafalgar Square, an hour from where we were.

6:45pm: After a lot of walking and tube travelling, we reach Mint Leaf restaurant and Mr. Mahesh who works as a cook there handed me my passport!!!

8:45pm: I am finally at home with my passport.

My Savior: A Mr. Mahesh, born in Chennai and who had worked as a cook in Delhi found my passport on the train1 (he is now a cook in Mint Leaf restaurant, London). He saw my details and realized I too was born in Chennai (Tamilian) but was residing in Delhi. As he was familiar with Delhi, He called his friend in Delhi and asked him to go to the address on the passport to inform my family that he has my passport. (My Passport does not carry my phone number)

His friend went all the way from Rajouri Garden to Vasant Kunj at night in Delhi... And we don’t stay at that address anymore!!!. The people currently staying in that flat directed Mr Mahesh’s friend to a neighbor’s house. Our old neighbors called my parents in Dwarka and enquired if I had lost my passport in London. My Parents were surprised that our neighbors knew I had lost my passport How??they them took Mr. Mahesh ka number from his friend and gave it to my parents and the rest is that I am very LUCKY that I have the passport in my hand now..

GOD Bless him and his friend!!!!!

The best part is that even before the complaint got entered and registered on the London computer system the connection has gone to Delhi and I got my passport.

LESSONs Learnt:

There are many types of dialects of British English and though all sound very cute ...all are NOT easy to understand esp. if spoken very fast

'O Blimey' = ' O Baba re'

‘Hunky Dory’ = ‘Mast’

There are Whites in London (Seemed to me that 99% Londoners were from the subcontinent)

Stations are named Barking and Ham

They serve Chicken Tikka Tandoori as a topping on Pizza in UK ;)

Glad to be a part of that population of the world which has representatives Everywhere!!!! :)

(don’t be so careless Shraddha??? :)