Continuing from part I. If you have not read it yet, you have no right to be here.
Pune. Circa 2007. Fourth job. Sixth House.
What do you call something that is somewhere between a 2BHK and a 1BHK but actually is a 2BHK?
Buzzz. A stupid question.That is the wrong answer. You have another chance.
Oh, I know. A 1.2333 BHK with a loo that has no commode. That is again the wrong answer. You have one last chance, you jackass!
Ok, ok. 2BHK with one of the bedrooms locked. That is the correct answer!
So, there it was. An old, but nice 1BHK apartment. Found after a month of incessant searching. Not only of the Google types. And I was to get almost married by an old man and a middle-aged woman for me to move into this flat. The old man called himself the society broker and the middle-aged woman was a friend to the owner / caretaker.
The owner was cooling his heels in Dubai. I keep getting email forwards from him even now. He still does not know about the nail I drove into the kitchen wall, I guess!
So, we are in the woman’s apartment inside the society at around 7 in the evening after having taken a look at the flat. Under the watchful gaze of the woman, her not-so-watchful husband and the old man, I looked around, drank a glass of water and made some mental calculations of the amount I could spend for this flat. Satisfied with the numbers, I broadened my chest, brought a smile to my face and started to speak.
Me. “OK, Ma’am, how much…”
Old man who called himself the society broker. First, tell us. Are you married?
Me. “I am sorry? What..”
Old man who called himself. “Yes.Yes. please tell us, are you married?”
Me. “No, I am not. Could you please….”
Old man who called. “When do you plan to?”
Me. “Sir, this is a personal question.”
Old man who. “Yes. This is a decent society with decent people. We do not want any hanky-panky going on. So, when do you plan to?
I was indignant and amazed at this. Yes, both at the same time. And it is possible. You just need to raise one eyebrow and show a hand gesture which seems to say “what the??”.
No sir. This is a personal question which I do not need to answer. I am as decent as you people are. In fact, more decent than you all. At least I have manners. I do not need your house. This is against my principles and I do not need to get insulted like this.
Me. “Ah. Maybe this year. But yeah, I forgot to tell you. My mother will be coming over this month to stay with me. I am from Hyderabad sir. I have an elder brother and a sister-in-law who stay in Hyderabad. And my mother will come to stay with me. She says she needs a change, and wants to see Pune also. You see, she is getting old….
Old man. “Ok, ok. The rent is 7000 per month. And again, no hanky-panky. You seem to be a very nice boy”.
And that was how I did not get to do any hanky-panky for the 6 months I stayed in that house. Because I eventually had to call my mom to stay with me to prove to the old man / society broker / caretaker that I indeed am a nice boy. And my mom not only ensured they know the same, but she also went a step ahead and called the lady over for some nice Andhra snacks / coffee. Not to mention the smiles and small talk they eventually started to share like they were old buddies. smooth stuff.
And, remember I said I had fallen in love? Yeah, that also happened along with a big divine intervention. I got shipped off to Japan. The Japan Diaries has the dope on why I went there. For my Sumi.
We shall not talk about the love story here. Since this is the story of a house. Suffice it to say that this love story spanned across
- 18 months,
- 2 countries,
- innumerable calling cards,
- countless fights and make ups,
- lots of pasta, trips, insobriety,brooding, philosophizing,
- lots of 555s, and finally
- did not end with us living happily ever after.
Quite an anti-thesis to the DDLJ type stuff we are fed on. Serendipity is the lifeline for a wanderer. I was still trying to unravel myself. But on retrospect, it was the best thing that happened to me.
I learned life’s sixth big lesson. “Love is not blind, deaf nor dumb and needs to have a good memory.”
Confucius is confused between shaadi.com or meetsinglesinyourlocalarea.com.
I hope you are enjoying the story. ‘Cause if you aren’t, then am sure you do not have much to do for you to reach this line. So read on.
Japan. Circa 2008. Same job. Seventh house.
What do you call a place that is somewhere between a 1BHK and a 1BHK?
Buzzzz. A 1BHK with H silent. That is the right answer! Man, are you on fire!
Arigato Gozaimasu! Yes, it was a 1-room-kitchen-bathroom-toilet-balcony. All rolled into one, beautifully cramped-up pigeon-hole and yet spacious enough to do a 2-minute sumo wrestling jaunt with your Japanese girlfriend before you let go of her and she falls over the balcony railing.
And this was the same room where I spent 18 months of fun, cooking, trying out Japanese cuisine, treks (Mount Fuji!) and more, including the points listed above.
Then I intervened – the only time when I did not let the divine come in. I regret that actually. And I shipped myself back to homeland.
Learned life’s seventh biggest lesson. “Love does know boundaries. When in Japan, stay in Japan and earn some more.”
Confucius is feeling better as I came closer to China.
Chennai. Circa 2009.Fifth job. Temporary.Seventh House.
What do you call a place which is between the ocean, some coconut trees, a wide stretch of road, is pink in color and is lovingly called the Playboy Mansion?
Buzzz. Wow! A hammock between the trees and some nude gays running around!
Wrong answer. And what is making you so excited?
“Err. Pink, Playboy. Hmm. Has to be one of the Best Homes I have ever seen.” Yep. That’s the right answer!
And so, “Best Homes”, the name of the apartments on OMR Road, Chennai became the backdrop for one of the strangest seven months in my life.
Fun, dark, poignant and in all that, made some friends for life. The Chennai Times. Says it all.
And then it happened.The happening that happens at the end before I happen to learn my lesson. Strange, it always happens that way.
Divine intervention and I went back to Pune to my previous company.
I learned life’s eighth biggest lesson. ” A pink colored apartment is not always a playboy mansion”.
Confucius is searching the dictionary and the phone directory for playboy.
Pune. Circa 2009. Sixth Job. Eighth House.
What do you call a place that looks like a run-down 1BHK from the Victorian era?
Buzzzz. A 1BHK in a cosy residential area behind ICT towers on SB Road. Yep! That is the right answer. Am surprised you understood the koschan.
This 1BHK from the Victorian era was a stone’s throwaway from a swanky gym, a Crossword to spend weekends at, nice looking chicks, some malls and which costed me a bomb.
But I did not complain because it was right next to where one of my very close friends from Chennai stayed. Hence, the prospect of continuing the Chennai Times seemed so inviting, money did not matter. And friendship prevailed.
Hmmm. I am so warm and mushy right now. Not so much though when the same guy abuses me these days for not calling him so frequently.
But for the few months I stayed there, before you-know-what-intervened (duh!), the wheels of fortune flipped, hopped, skipped and jumped in such a random and yet heart-warming manner, I started seeing dots everywhere. Yes, dots. Not stars.
Angst, frustration, dogged persistence with the mundane while expecting the turn of a corner, and finally harmony.
Got divorced. The word does not seem to have the strange twang it used to have earlier.
And got an MBA admit along with it. This neither. Of course, because I am an MBA now. Ah. There it is again. Damn!
It’s amazing how easy life’s hurdles seem, when you start believing in these rather insignificant elements of the universe – The dots. Steve Jobs has spoken about it. Rashmi Bansal has written about it. And I am blogging about it. Man! Too much that was!
The divine intervened and I left Pune yet again to head back to where I was born. Well, not exactly where I was born, but close enough. I learned life’s ninth big lesson. “A strange dot twangs and a strange blot swangs.”
Confucius is levitating. He is deeply moved by the depth of this saying. The playboy seemed to have worked.
Hyderabad. Circa 2011. Seventh Job. Ninth House. My Home.
And this is the moment I have been waiting. For almost 172 Hours, 54 minutes, 6 seconds. Since I started writing all this down. Including part I.
Trumpets, Bugles and Drum Rolls. I will take a dramatic pause and imagine myself standing atop the roof of my brother’s beaten down Hyundai with my hands stretched out, a la SRK while you answer this koschan. The last one, I promise.
What do you call a place that
- makes you walk and drive around in the sun like it was pleasant weather,
- surprises you by making 7-figure numbers dance on your fingertips,
- makes you negotiate like you were born to do that,
- makes terms such as “super built up area” look like you use it everyday
- makes you a financial planner, interior designer, carpenter, pujari, loan and real estate consultant, all rolled into one,
- makes you read the “Personal Finance” section of the ET with unprecedented enthu,
- makes you go on an all-night, mantra-chanting devotional trip, clad in only a dhoti and shrouded in smoke that would singe you down to your eye sockets, and preceded only by a day-long fast that’d get the rats in your stomach run everywhere inside of you, and
- gets you to pay almost half of your salary every month after all this, and yet
does not make you feel a wee bit uncomfortable?
Buzzzz. The comfort and warmth of your own home. Yeah, I know that is the right answer, and the only answer. Thank you and good luck!
The one thought that hit me right in the middle of my medula oblongata when I was going through all the bullet points listed above while searching, deciding and finalizing my own apartment in Hyderabad was just this – I guess I am growing up. I just smiled at myself.
And it has only started. The dots seemed to be lining up.
Meanwhile, I learned life’s tenth big lesson. “Don’t laugh when someone says “rubber wood”.”
Confucius is calling up playboy and is asking about it. I need to call him home once.
“Man who reads long post gets exhausted”