Friday, February 01, 2008

Bare Necessities

Do diwane sheher mein

Remember the original hunt for that dream house, picturised on the optimistic Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab who sing of the aashiyana they seek?

As the daughter of a government servant, I saw my parents always live in whatever house we got. You took what you got because otherwise there were enough people waiting to take it instead of you! Choice was not a known entity.

Soon after we decided to get married, Anando needed to move houses in a hurry and found this furnished Bombay house, which became my home after November 2006. Now, though I love my Bombay house, it's because how at home I have been in it, how many memories there are here, how many dear ones have visited and spent a great few hours or days. But, though I love it, I didn't choose it. And I didn't choose for Anando to drive around the lanes surrounding the building 3 times before he finds a parking spot that is not a giant pot-hole. I certainly didn't choose for the 8 in the 18 on our door to be screwed in upside down so the fatter o is on top (I still itch to fix it when I see it). I certainly didn't choose the wall-to-wall mirror in the drawing room that reflects every move you make in the living room. And I certainly didn't choose the pink tiles in the kitchen that occasionally feature a jug with assorted fruits lying around it. And I certainly did not choose the GIANT mirror in the bedroom (no laughing!).

So when the move to Dubai was finalised and we figured we could actually see several houses and pick one, I was kind of looking forward to a house that would set me free from these very, umm, defined, tastes in decor. I was thrilled that for the first time, I could pick and choose our home. And, I must admit, I was lost. I had little idea what to look for.

So Anando and I went househunting in Dubai some days back. The company sponsored a sort of reconnaisance trip so that when we eventually move in mid-Feb we know where we are going to be. (And so that Anando doesn't take time off from the new office to house-hunt.) I had a little notebook with the names and numbers of all the estate agents and we were armed with an Excel sheet that contained the parameters we wanted to keep in mind while selecting a house (yes, an Excel sheet, Anando is not an MBA for nothing. These are the ways he reminds me).

Our central issues were basic ones - proximity to workplace and groceries (traffic in Dubai sucks), 2 toilets (allowing easy (ahem) passage for all the relatives and friends who are threatening to visit), decent kitchen space, and other assorted middle-class concerns. And oh, of course, whether we could afford all those in an obscenely expensive place like Dubai.

And then, we finally found a flat which seemed to fit the bill, and more. Thrilled, we rushed around from room to room wondering how on earth we would fill up all this empty space with what little we own. And we day-dreamt about the ways in which to decorate it. I worried about the lack of a gas connection, which meant that I would have to cook on a hotplate. We worried that the supermarket was not as close by as we would have liked. But we were willing to live with these problems. Then, going up in the elevator, we met a European gentleman who lived in the building. And Anando asked him whether there were any major problems he faced in his day-to-day living here. The man thought, and with a grave shaking of his head to indicate dissatisfaction, came up with this as we waited anxiously: "Yesss. There is only one fixed parking spot."

By this time his floor had arrived and he left with a small bow. And Anando remarked: "What problems these people have."

Yes, when you come from a place where you cannot take water and electricity for granted (and you are still better off than millions of others), locating parking for your second car is not exactly high on the priority list!

Added soon after: I clicked 'publish' and the doorbell rang. Watchman telling us the lights are off between 10 am and 5 pm tomorrow. Thanks Reliance! I knew I could(n't) count on you!


sbora said...

Congratulations on your move. Are you excited? Dubai seems like a neat place, havent been there but would like to someday.
good luck with your house can be quite tiresome and frustrating at times.

Hope you find your dream home!

Puranjoy said...

I have two roommates, both are mba grad students. Oh Excel-they worship it. Any problem in life is not worth solving if it cannot be reduced to a spreadsheet.

sbora said...

BTW i love that song!!!

Anamika said...

Sbora: We have found the flat. All that Excel-sheeting etc couldn't possibly be allowed to go waste could it?? :) I spent 3 months there last year (see my old posts from Feb-May) and really longed for home. But yes, the fact that we are going for a long period and that we have found a lovely flat makes us feel more excited. Rest of the reporting will happen from Dubai :) And, I love that song too. I listened to it while writing the post!

Puranjoy: Well said! He'd probably echo their thoughts! Powerpoint comes a close second!

dipali said...

I need to write a book about "The House Hunting I Have Done". Last call was Kolkata, where I must have looked at 35-40 houses at least. Honestly, I spent more time with the broker than with my husband during our courtship days:)
I'm so glad you've found a nice apartment. Looking forward to your mails and photographs from Dubai.
All the best for this new chapter in your life.

Anamika said...

Dipali: Write it! I am sure it will be an interesting concept. And yes, sometimes people like brokers and maids do take on a major role in our priorities compared to the spouses, 'don't they!

Thanks for the wishes. Yes, there will continue to be updates from Dubai.

sbora said...

well, congratulations then!! enjoy Dubai and will look forward to hearing about it more from you!!!

The Weekend Blogger said...

Its so unfair that you are moving to Dubai and my hubby has just moved back.

We had a really quaint appartment at Bur Dubai and I really loved it. I had the time of my life making trips to Ikea and putting together the furniture for the flat and no someone else is living there (sigh!) .

Dubai is a nice city to live esp if you are moving there for the first time. The supermarkets are the best as you can get everything under one roof. The convenience of living seems wonderful esp for people like us who have to survive the bad roads and autos in Kolkata.

Watch out for the awful summer though !

Anamika said...

Sbora: Thanks!

TWB: That's a pity, because then we could have got in touch next time you were visiting him in Dubai. But I am glad, because at least now the two of you are together.

Oh, IKEA is a dream! We went there to check out furniture options and prices. If you want to drool some more just download their 2008 catalogue!

aunty g said...

Dipali's remark made me go back thirty five (gosh, is is that much?! Time really does fly!) years to our courting days. In those five years, I saw more of my dear old postman than I did of my bT:-)))

Anamika said...

Aunty G: (Big smile!) Well, I am glad you married the bT and not the postman! Hee hee!