Friday, February 12, 2010

A tenant for rent

Available: A tenant for a two bedroom flat at a reasonable rent.
Just married, so no children
Will pay the rent on time
No, vehicle so no parking space required

My typical day starts. I rush to the nearest shop and get hold of the daily newspaper. I flip the pages, robotic in a way. Page 6, and the eyes fixed on the rental ad. A two bedroom flat for rent, at last. I punch in the numbers and wait.
“Hello,” a lady replies.
“This is with regard to the rental advertisement in Kuensel,” I enquire.

Today could be my lucky day, ending my three-month long search. Maybe the karmi in the Lhakhang has helped. Moreover, my horoscope says it would be a day of fulfillment.

The flashback:

My search started three months back.

Olakha housing boom has brought in many construction. I identify it as an ideal place to start looking for a flat. I start from one corner and it takes me two hours to reach the next corner. Most of the buildings would take at least 4 more months to complete and strangely all of the flats are pre booked.

As I get to the last building things seemingly get better. I meet one landlord whose building is almost complete and is not pre-booked. He was generous enough to give a detailed tour of his building. “I have incorporated Korean architecture and design,” he starts. The tiling in the bathroom was done so that cleaning would be much easier, I learn from him. Even the wide support for the sink had a story. “One of my cousins met with an accident and as he fell and brought down the sink with him and broke his leg. So to avoid such instances, I have made the sink this way,” he says. The rooms are paneled. The front yard is carpeted with grass and nice lighting pole are near completion. “This place I have made it this way so that couples and sit here in the evenings”

It would be nice to live here, I tell myself. There is sudden glimmer of hope. All of it shatters as I ask for the rent. 13,000 for the three bedroom flat. No wonder his flats are empty. Reaching the maxim of pessimistic reproach I head home.

Rejuvenated by a good night’s sleep I start the day with renewed optimism. It is a weekend. I think of going through all the newspapers. I start and list down five potential places to call.
“Hello! This is with regard to your advertisement”
I ask for the rent and say thank you and strike out the numbers. Some of them are pre booked and some are too expensive. I zero down to a duplex in Babesa. A duplex with 7 bedrooms, 3 toilets just for 12,000. I fix the time in accordance to the zakar. No coins would be left unturned. Meanwhile, I already start making plans. I will take the ground floor and ask my parents to take the upper floor. Six thousand for a three bedroom flat. “Not bad.”

The day arrives. I go and meet the owner, who looks like a gem of a person. He makes me feel at ease. He starts relating the forces of nature, of karmic connection between us. “Tshe nge mai ley imbay,” he says. I sit there nodding, “Yes sir. Yes sir.”
My happiness bloats like a helium inflated balloon.
As he takes me to the duplex, my bloated happiness deflates in a flash. It looks like a century old house. I gather myself and resolve to check out the room. The master bedroom is a meager 2metre by 2metre in size. The biggest turnoff is the bathroom, custom made for skinny people. What of the time my wife is pregnant? Will she fit in? The questions start forcing my brain into action. Ten minutes of witnessing the karmic force in action is enough for me to say, “I am sorry but this house is too big for me and my wife. Thank you anyways.”

Three months of search has made me an expert on how difficult it is to find a decent house in the capital. The rare vacant houses are mostly reserved for the high spending foreigners or consultants. A three bedroom bungalow in changzamtog, semi furnished, I am told, would be rented for Nu. 20,000. An advert in Kuensel had me enquiring on a two bedroom flat near the Rigsum institute, an ideal location given the distance from my office.
“It is ideal for consultants,” “Are you one?” a husky voiced girl asks me.
“No. But could you tell me about the rent,” I ask back.

“It is fully furnished and is for Nu. 30,500 only,” the reply has me in awe. No wonder it is ideal for consultants. With my typical thank you greetings I hang up the phone.

Present day:

It is almost three months since the hunt for the house began. And still I find myself living in with my parents. “What are you doing? Are you even trying to find us a flat? My friend found a nice place in Changzamtog and for a reasonable rent,” my wife’s typical reminder begins.
I feel like screaming out my feelings but I resolve to saying, “I am still trying dear. I will go check if Kuensel has any rental ads.”

“Madam I believe that it is a two bedroom flat. I would very much be interested in checking it out at the earliest”
“Oh! Sorry to inform you that it has been booked already,” the lady on the line disappoints the optimistic me. I had called in at 10 am.

Who ever coined the frequently used line in Hindi movies? “If you search, you will even find god.” Here, I am just searching for a flat.