In the beginning of this month, which happened to be the first month of the new year, we had a new problem. HOUSEHUNT!
The flat we had been living in had completed its 11 months of contract, and just when we made our mind to renew the contract with the 10% increase in rent – our landlord (or just lady luck) devised more sinister reasons to make us move. Our landlord, heard an Aakashvani, that No more than 5 souls should reside in his 2 BHK flat and announced so. There were 7 people living there, amongst which us 5 souls were clubbed together by more than just a contract. With the exhorbitant Mumbai rents in place, Rent/5 was not-an-option at all. We had no choice but to look for another aasra, and hence began the HouseHunt.
This was my third HouseHunt in the Maximum City, Mumbai. In the last three missions, I have clearly understood that Bachelorhood is not just a marital status. Its a social-outcast that puts you below everyone who has joined the institution. In this city, and maybe Pune as well as my dear friends tell me, we Bachelors / Singletons / Unmarried souls are looked down with even more contempt than Ajmal Kasab (or No, Kasab is also a bachelor), so maybe more than Nithari or Aurangzeb or your Spouse’s ex or even more than the perverted ‘married’ man, in your neighborhood, who fancies his daughters’ friends. As they believe that We, as bachelors, could be worse!
Everywhere We go, the owners, brokers, society-officebearers or even building-guards look at us with a raised-brow, suspicion and prejudices. We do get places to live, but with raised rents and grudgingly, and that too mostly because, we – living in groups – can and do pay more than families would. My experiences have been quite vivid in thse cases. I have :
– Met landlords, who said No Friends. No Drinks. No Smoking. No Music. No coming late… I said, “NO THANKS! I want a flat, not a step-dad”
– Met brokers, who suggested that I may bring my Mom for a few days and state that she’ll live here, and then she may go – but keep coming every few weeks/months else the society may ‘doubt’. With that not possible, he even had the audacity to suggest a किराये की अम्मा (A hired old-lady) who who would stay along for a month pretending to be our family. [I aint kidding] I said WTF!!
– Met a person, who quoted ‘kicking-out’ a married man out of their society, after he got divorced – as now he was single, hence ‘dangerous’ for the society. He was proud of it. I feel ashamed to have shaken hands with him.
The list is endless, and so are their suspicion and prejudices. The Man Booker Award winner author, Arvind Adiga beautifully expresses it one of his articles, about Bachelors renting places in Mumbai:
“…Here the bachelor lives, there the orgy follows; this is the great fear. In the landlord’s imagination, half-clad women appear and disappear all day long through the bachelor’s door; gasps of illicit pleasure rent the middle-class composure of the building; disgrace and scandal follow.”
While some feel, that unmarried women are generally treated with leniency, I have heard some contrary views from one of the ‘Society-Secrateries’. He said with the airs of Jesus serving a sermon to St. Peter: “अकेले लड़के कुछ लडको को ख़राब करते हैं, या लड़कियों को परेशान करते हैं, लेकिन अकेली लडकिया पूरी Building को ख़राब करती हैं !” He also recalled some incidences, when someone in his building had fallen for an extra-martial with this single girl and all others families were ‘disturbed’ as well.
But HEY! is that our problem, if you people can’t keep your hands-off the single girls, or if your ladies are deprived enough to fall for other guys? Not to forget that we singles befriending their sons & daughters, living in the same building, is also nothing less than an attempt-to-rape or drug-peddling in their eyes. Their allegations also involve the ‘deadly sins‘ of drinking and smoking in our rented flats, and our friends visiting at all hours.
Who, in the first place, gave them the damn right to be a Peeping Tom in our lives and care for what we do inside our flat. After all, being above the legal drinking age, what legal right do they have anyways to stop us from drinking or smoking in our private premises, as long as nobody else is getting affected or disturbed? We have leased it out, not encroaching on it. But bigots all around, think differently.
After a month long of similar experiences, restless hunt and lots of turns and twists, we have finally narrowed down on our new hideout, where we’ll move in this weekend, and I pray that you needn’t ever do a HouseHunt in Mumbai. Amen!
P.S.: The trouble is, even is this so-called-modernized and cosmopolitan city, there seems to be no one who cares about it and does nothing better than aggravating the situation. Trust me its even worse than “Indians and Dogs not allowed!!!”