A few weekends ago I had the opportunity of watching Kya Kool Hai Hum with a bunch of friends. One thing that remains etched into my memory is the scene where Tushhar Kapoor drops a cigarette butt into his pants. However it was not that particular detail that caught my attention, rather it was the location of the scene itself. I had made no mistake, it was the Barista in Bandra where, merely the weekend before, I had spent two hours waiting for the Harry the broker. It was from there that I had began my epic journey to find a house in Mumbai. In hindsight I should have just done what Tusshar Kapoor did and opted for a lesser pain.
After three weeks of wearing the soles of my shoes and my patience thin in Mumbai I have finally found a 2 BHK in Wadala East with a nice view of an oil refinery belonging to a leading Indian petrochemicals major, with an abandoned warehouse nestling in lawns which were lush green sometime in the early 50s. As I was reclining in my recliner-cum-sofa-cum-bed (It was a sofa-cum-recliner till there was a horrible accident earlier that day and I sat on it where I was not supposed to) and enjoying this view last night, it dawned on me to distill my experiences to a concise list of bullet points to help the unwary house hunter in Mumbai. While this may not guarantee immediate accommodation, you may be able to avoid explaining management consulting and the word Kearney to a slightly tone-deaf 80-year old Parsi lady, as I had to, during my epic journeys.
1. So you have that FMCG job you always wanted? Or maybe it is that dream consulting company? Say goodbye to all that and sign up with ICICI bank right now. No matter what division and what job, join them and all the property brokers (and some of the matrimonial ones) will make a beeline to you. If that is not possible at least join one of the companies which has an ICICI in it. If you are in ICI just say your company name twice in rapid succession and it should work mostly. I got a home only because our office was just behind the ICICI building. There is something in the name that makes brokers go gaga and house owners go weak in the knees. For example:
House Owner: So tell me a little bit about yourself…
Hunter of house: I am a mallu who drinks at least four bottles of beer a day and have been known to play loud music at night and have a couple of maid and neighbour harassment lawsuits pending in the Mumbai and Bhubhaneswar High Courts. I work in a bank on weekdays.
House Owner: Which one?
Hunter of house: ICICI Bank…
House Owner: Excellent. You can move in on Sunday…
House owner to wife after hunter has left: What a nice boy no?
2. Were you one of those who laugh loudly when you read news stories of engineers who get posted in Bihar and then promptly get kidnapped and married to some landlord’s daughter? Well you can eat every single snigger now. That poor soul will be settled in a plush place in Pali Hill while you are still standing by the roadside in a dusty corner of Khar looking at a two room hovel and wondering why it needs a 5 lakh deposit. House-owners trust single men less than they do a strain of the Ebola virus. So call up your girlfriend and tell her things are moving faster than you thought and you need to tie the knot by 4 pm before you meet that society in Kalina at 4:30. If you don’t have a girlfriend make one in Mumbai now. I believe the Hiranandani’s have a lass in college.
3. If Murgh Malai or Shark Fin soup is your fave dish for a wholesome dinner then time for some CPR, or Culinary Process Reengineering. 99% percent of all house owners I saw are violent, rabid vegetarians who will kill to protect their vegetarianism. So before you go in for an interview with the house owner prepare your lines well. Avoid this:
House Owner: So what do you cook at home?
Severely Tanned Househunter: Oh rice, fish, chicken…
Whoosh!! Thud!! (Noise of 24-year old man flying out of house and falling on road.)
When ideally it should have been like this:
House Owner: So what do you cook at home?
Lightly Sweating Househunter Nearing Kill: Rice.
House Owner: And?
Lightly Sweating Househunter breathing down neck of prey: That’s it. Only rice.
House Owner: Alcohol?
Steadily drying Househunter with snigger of imminent success: Only in my shaving lotion.
House Owner: These are the keys, you can move in tonight
Triumphant Househunter mentally noting to have Sheesh Kebab and beer tonight to celebrate: Thank you.
This 3-mantra-model should help you easily locate a house in Mumbai and avoid the pain I had to go through for three weeks. Take them, understand them and adopt them. Make them a part of your life for a week. That comfy apartment in Bandra is just waiting for you.
Now that cigarette butt thing by Tusshar Kapoor did remind me of something else too which happened in engineering college. But then this is just not the place for that sort of story.