No matter what you do, what credentials you have, what your religion, class, gender, colour or eating habits – in India you are never good enough to get the kind of home you want. If you do manage to find it and move in, there would inevitably be a nosy aunty or a disgruntled lord of the apartment complex, or both together out to play the self-appointed moral police.
The apartment hunting scene in our cities today needs no introduction. Mumbai is infamous for its space crunch and the millions of factors that decide the fate of every working millennial. Things are no better in other cities that are hotbeds of offices and colleges, like Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune, where the locals – let’s call them Lords, since most of them don’t actually have land but matchbox-sized apartments – still subject potential tenants to character scrutinisation despite the increasing number of millennials working away from their home towns. And despite what the law mandates.
Ironically, the most-dreaded term in any tenant’s life is Society. Living in a rented house, like every other tenant I too have mental scars left behind by such house-hunts. I changed four houses in three years before finding my current landlord who doesn’t mind my boyfriend visiting whenever he’s in town. I sometimes joke about it to my gay friends, who at least don’t need to reveal their sexual history each time they face a stranger lucky enough to have their own home in a city!
Angarika Verma, a 29-year-old photographer based in the suburbs of Goregaon in Mumbai, went through a similarly depressing rollercoaster of a ride with the Lord of her house: “I used to be big on Couchsurfing. I had a great time doing it on my Europe trip and wanted to lend a couch to other travellers. I did it until the neighbourhood cops showed up at my door saying the ‘secretary’ complained about ‘characterless activities’ taking place in the apartment. Of course I moved out within a month, but only after giving the Jain uncleji a piece of my mind.”
On her friend’s encouragement, Angarika left a chunk of meat wrapped in toilet paper outside the secretary’s house. While that’s a bit drastic as a measure (and we hope the uncle isn’t reading this), there are new ways to bypass the mess. And they are all online. The next time you need a new pad, try one of these:
Flats Without Brokers
This one started out as a FB page a few years ago and picked up momentum due to the sheer number of people desperate to skip greedy brokers who often failed to deliver on their promises. Besides allowing a space to swap messages with more progressive landlords, the page also shares good articles on the subject.
Nestoria actually aggregates info from other aggregator websites like the ones mentioned below, and turns up a sum total of whatever’s on offer. With ‘no broker guarantee’.
GrabHouse is good for those looking for PG accommodation. It has a whole bunch of useful filters that spare some agony on the stupid requests of the Lords, like ‘food choices’, Western toilet and RO purified drinking water.
One of the more popular sites, Housing has a neat interface that lets you zero in on a particular area and see the houses along with genuine images (and not vague thumbnails). The best part is their thoughtful suggestion lists like ‘Bachelor Friendly’ and ‘Great Nightlife’.
Perhaps the best known site for house-hunting, whether to rent or to buy. Being the oldest, it often gets the highest number of direct listings. Get the app here. Happy hunting!
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar