Saturday, March 31, 2007

One Fine Month

It all began with the phone call from Toronto. The owner of our rented accommodation refused to sign a new lease and asked us to find another arrangement as soon as possible. Apparently he found a buyer who was willing to buy his place at the current inflated price. With all the problems we have gone through just because some wealthy investor wanted to make some more money, I hope his place doesn’t fetch him even his cost.

So, we started our search for another place. Just Dial was dialled to and after several runs of “eat-all-you-want-to-eat and then use-our-fat-looser” an irritating fellow came online who was more interested in confirming my e-mail id and telephone number than helping me with my query. We listed the estate agents in our area and began calling them. First thing that we clarified over the phone was that we will not give more than one month’s rent as brokerage.

We were looking for something within our current locality, thanks to all the strings this locality has attached to us - the gym membership, DVD club membership, Broadband internet connection of which another 7 months are left to be consumed, and walking distance to 4 multiplexes and two malls. And after looking at several depressing apartments we found our divine-heavenly-lovely apartment. It is on the fourteenth floor of a tower and the windows open in two directions (South & West). West facing apartment was a condition put in by A. It is always windy and since it is not next to several construction sites like our last apartment, the dust level is also low. We loved it. It just needed several power points and switch boards and some wood-work. We made up our mind and began talking to the owner for a long term lease. We are in India only till mid 2009 and we do not intend to go through another move.

That was the beginning of the ordeal. We paid one month’s rent as token money to the owner and he promised that the painting of the apartment will start soon. We relayed this information to our Canadian landlord and asked for an extension on our stay beyond the leave and license period so that we could move in to an already painted house. The extension was granted and was termed as final.

The owner left town and we came to know about this through a sms which told us that the estate agent is arranging for the painting and fumigation and that we should coordinate with him. We tried. We tried hard. We tried harder, but just couldn’t get through to him. Every time we called his pathetic mobile number (totally without any rhyme or reason...just a jumble of numbers, so difficult to remember) we had to endure Himesh Reshamiya droning in our ear. If I had enough money, I’d pay him to shut up and stay at home and if that would not stop him from torturing people, I’d just buy every record company in the town and then see where would he go and do that thing he thinks is singing. So, the estate agent had done a disappearing act on us.

Bewildered beyond our imaginations, we tried contacting the owner to appraise him of our grave situation. He was in Pune, attending his brother’s marriage. He managed to get hold of the agent over the phone and asked him to do the needful. Several more panicky calls and reshamiya induced tortures later the work was finished. I am not going to start on the quality of work done. We Indians do not take any pride in what we do. A painter doesn’t mind if does a sloppy job as long as he gets his wages; a carpenter would rather make sure that the work goes on and on and on so that he could make more money, fuck the convenience and happiness of the job giver. So, the painting was finished, but the fumigation was not. We had large mirrors that had to be put on the walls in the living room. We wanted to finish all this work before moving in, so we arranged with the broker to be at the apartment when we come with the movers. I went out in the sun and arranged for some movers and a carpenter to dismantle the mirrors from our old apartment and to take it to the new apartment. The broker promised to be there with the keys. We brought the 4 mirrors (each 6 feet by 3 feet) and the wood to the new building. But guess what? Yes you guessed it right. Here’s the detailed version. The broker was not there. His phone switched off. The guards at the new building didn’t allow the mirrors and the wqood to be loaded in the passenger lift. We were asked to wait till five in the evening, when the luggage lift was started. It was four in the afternoon and the movers started making faces. We wanted to take the stuff at least to the 14th floor with the help of the movers and keep it beside the door. Frustrated and totally annoyed with the circumstances, I tried reasoning with the guards. No success. We stood there waiting for the asshole of an agent, but no news. Frantic and angry calls to the owner were of no help. Just when I was almost ready to break down, the movers decided to start their act. They wanted to leave immediately and I kept looking at the clock. Cutting it short, we transported the mirrors to the 14th floor past five and kept them outside our door. That’s when we decided that the agent needs to be taught a lesson.

Our last day to empty the old apartment arrived and we wanted to move. The signing of the agreement had been carried out and the broker was supposed to do the franking and submitting the leave and license copy to the new building society for ratification. Obviously, all this did not happen. Dear broker asked for the brokerage upfront before he did any of this. Frustrated and annoyed beyond our limits, we told him what we thought of him and his sorry ways. Bad thing! Never take a panga with a broker unless you are confident that the owner is on your side. Ours wasn’t.

We had a tug-of-war between egos and the broker’s won. We had to pay him. The society said we can not move unless all the formalities have been carried out and we have been introduced to the general committee on the coming Sunday. If killing was not illegal/unlawful I would have had a handful of deaths on my hand that day. The Chairman of the society took an instant disliking towards us, probably because we spoke our mind and didn’t accept his dictums without a word. Another worldly wisdom, try and avoid confrontation with the society officials and specially the chairperson. After a lot of arguments and pleadings later we were allowed to move in to our new apartment.

It’s almost a week now. The house is almost set. We are still recovering. The internet has still not been shifted because the building manager is on leave and the approval-to-carry-out work application is lying in his office. No internet, no cable and every time we use our surround sound, the guard is at the door - we are living in Mumbai. Our old bai could not start working for us immediately as she did not have a NOC from the society office.

Have we started missing the bureaucracy so much that we are creating similar things in our backyard?

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