House hunting

I’m on a house hunt. It sucks. Before India, when my parents used to hunt for house, we used to look at a house, and if it had walls and four bedrooms it was a done deal. You always knew the kitchen would work and come with the hob, fridge, washing machine, you’d have central airconditioning, and the bathrooms weren’t going to make you want to hang yourself.

Here it’s a whole other world. You have to make sure you get water in your taps as there’s two kinds of water connection (borewell and metro?? I’m still not so sure what’s what). Then there’s the gas – piped, or the kind where we bring our own cylinder. Some of the house I’ve seen just have an empty space in one of the kitchen cupboards, and no hole in the counter-top, so you’d even have to make your own hole in the granite once your cylinder’s in the cupboard. You next have to figure out whether you’d be given an airconditioned flat (this is considered “furnishing”). Most people don’t like to give you airconditioning – they give you ceiling fans pre-installed, but that’s not going to do you any good in Chennai’s insane heat/humidity. So basically, you’ll have to buy a/c’s, make sure that you can install them in the flat (i.e make sure the owner doesn’t mind you making holes in his walls), and then put them up. Problem is, what if you move out to a place that already has a/c’s?? What do you do with the ones you bought? Mystery…

Some houses are so stupid, they don’t even have water heaters in the bathrooms. You’re meant to buy and install your own ones. That’s so ridiculous – the owners say all this crap about “ready-to-occupy” flats etc, but they’re liars. The whole point of renting is so that you don’t have all the added expense of setting up a house right? At least the basics should be there, so if you wanted to just bring a sofa and a bed with you, you’d be able to survive quite happily. Oh, and then there’s another type of house-owner that fancies himself as aa bit of an interior decorator. What you get is the largest, ugliest set of permanantly-fused-to-the-wall cabinet “for your TV”. Yeah sure, thanks, if you want to damage your neck watching TV since the only way it would fit is if you put it 6 feet above the ground!

Besides the readiness issues, most flats are filthy. Not the kind of filthy you can clean either. Bathrooms and kitchens are probably most affected – they look like really bad crime scenes. Taps dangling off sinks and walls, shower heads that look like acid was its best friend, toilet seats that look like an elephant sat on it at poo time, and of course, the worst – drains that look SO clogged and horrible that no amount of Drainex will ever get them clear. Personally, I would not want to rent a place and spend most of my time fixing up someone else’s house to a reasonable standard.

So, all I want for Christmas is a pretty apartment, with at least 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with neat taps and decent toilets, plus (hopefully) an extra toilet, a decent sized dining area and living area, and a kitchen that’s big enough to fit a fridge. A space for a washing machine (they never think of that! Come on, not all of us can hand-wash our clothes everyday!) and ample cupboard space would also be welcomed.

We can’t always get what we want though.

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