“Hello?” An elderly voice growled.
“Hello, we saw your advertisement regarding a house for rent.”
“Yes?” The voice replied.
“See, we are a group of bachelors..”
-Kdap- The receiver was banged down on the cradle.
“Aliya, avan phone vechu” (He cut the phone)
For the last three weeks, we — six bachelor Malayalees — had a uniform routine: Get up, take the bike and head to cover different corners of Bangalore. Mission: Locate a fabulous house at a cheaper rent. Phone calls seldom worked, as most of the numbers in the ads for houses were either not answered or went to a broker. Well, we never had any problem with the brokers in Bangalore, but they demanded a month’s rent as commission for getting us a house, which we did not want to pay. So, after enough browsing through the net and ad mags, we decided to hit the road.
It all started with one not-so-fine evening, when the kith and kin of our landlord marched into our house. Construction was going on at the terrace. They were building three storeys above the two-storey structure, flouting almost all the corporation laws regarding the construction of a residential building. We thought it was a regular inspection, but they were actually counting heads. We roommates were eight at that time, but they “expected” only Mithun, my classmate and colleague, and “one or two of his friends” at the house.
Eight! Their eyes gleamed. The son-in-law of our landlord, who was the self-proclaimed caretaker of the property, demanded to hike our rent from Rs 6500 to Rs 10,000.
When the house was rented to Mithun, it was told that his brother and family would be coming to Bangalore soon and occupy the house. But that never happened. It was a simple lie to reduce the rent. It’s a well-known fact that bachelors are pariah to landlords nationwide, but Bangalore had an exception. With the IT boom resulting in heavy purses of indulgent youngsters, bachelor techies migrated to Bangalore were a sure high-payers for the local house owners. Apparently, the heavily-paid youngsters never bothered to bargain. So they expected the same from any youngster. And the press card, which came handy especially when night-patrolling policemen stopped us for verification and bribes, never helped here.
With the construction above our present den at full swing, the condition of the house was deteriorating. We tried to bargain, with the promise of cutting the number of occupants to five, but they wanted money, and they were adamant. So we chose to quit. But it was not that easy
We were pretty pampered by our stay in Thavarekere, not because of our house (in fact the place sucks!!) But due to the convenience of having Malayalee restaurants nearby, stop for buses from Kerala at Madiwala, easy connectivity to Majestic bus stand as well as MG road and, last but not least, Forum mall. So we had to find a place where we had most of these conveniences. The first source? Ad mags. The very next day, they were there on our bed, and we began frantically marking desirable ads. Then came the big problem: Bachelors? Pay high!
Houses that had Rs 8,000 rent in the ad suddenly zoomed to 10,000-plus level as soon as we said that we’re a group of six bachelors. Some flatly refused to allow bachelors. We were ready to pay even 10,000, but the “norm” is that you have to pay 10 months rent as advance. So 10K rent means Rs 100,000 as advance! Now that was definitely beyond our means. Four of us were working, and we couldn’t go back to Kerala and ask that big an amount from our parents. The focus of our search became the rent to pay.
We fixed a cap of Rs 8,000 for the search. It widened from Madiwala to Arikkere-BTM layout to Kaggadasapura to HSR Layout, and a variety of houseowners! From an extra-decent Sultan at Kaggadasapura to a hyper-tempered old man at Thavarekere, we met a variety of human beings. Many were asking veiled questions to check our religion!
The ‘architectural wonders’ in the guise of houses we had to see was equally varied. ‘Brigadier’ gave a description of a house that was constructed east-facing, but the road was on the west. All you see is the back of the house! Houses literally crammed into the space available, caring little about the safety and construction rules, were innumerable. Muti-coloured interiors with fancy lights, bedrooms that can be used better as dark rooms were among the rarer sights. But one thing was common in all places — atrocious rent for not-that-good dens. Why doesn’t the government form a body for rent regulation? Is the land Mafia in Bangalore that strong to prevent it? Less-rented houses were still farther. That caused another problem: Proximity.
After all the house-hunting with MG Road as the center of our search radar, we formed an equation. Farther the house, greater the facilities, lesser the rent. Nearer the house, lesser the facilities, greater the rent. Mithun, Aby and me had our offices in MG Road, so a farther location was not desirable for us either. 'Brigu' had problem commuting from his sister's place in another corner of the city. Apart from this, Mithun and Rakesh had another problem. Their girlfriends were in Bangalore, and farther locations affected their regular meetings!
Finally, we came upon a 2 bedroom-hall-kitchen house near Christ College, sufficiently close to the main roads, Madiwala and Forum. The rent was definitely higher than our cap, but the landlord decided to cut the advance amount. The search is over, we are moving into a swanky place (not that swanky when the rent is considered) next week. Mr son-in-law of our present landlord, hell with you and your illegal construction of an apartment!