Disclaimer: Originally published in February 2018. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
It’s always difficult when you move to a big city after you finish your studies. You become responsible for your job, your food, your everything. Not for me, I thought foolishly. After all, this was a big city I grew up in. How difficult can it be for me, a born Delhiite to find a suitable 1 BHK for myself? Pretty tough, as it turned out.
So, here’s my story, my sorry tale of house-hunting in Delhi.
Trust your eyes, not the Polaroid
I began in Uttam Nagar. Middle-class neighbourhood in West Delhi, close to where I grew up, I thought ‘why not?’ Alas, I was disappointed. Not only were the rooms nowhere as okay as the pics advertised, they probably weren’t even the same rooms.
Dust, cobwebs and mold in every corner, bed sheets and curtains as pale as the wall and the distinct smell of a rotting carcass somewhere. In retrospect I was unfair on women who use filters for their pictures. Brokers and landlords are the ones who make real use of them.
My impression didn’t change when I checked out other properties nearby. Uttam Nagar disappointed me. It also almost asphyxiated me with that Naala and garbage smell that went around.
Beta, taiyaari kaisi chal rahi hai?
Next up was Patel Nagar. No particular reason for looking in the area except that I had friends over there and it was home to one of my favorite Rolls (chicken, not Royce. Lol. Sorry) places. No Naala smell, and no garbage strewn about in the street corners.
The rooms were bad and, oh so expensive. 14K for an above average room with no Wifi or TV or anything. No, thank you. Would rather sleep in the Delhi Metro.
Even when the room isn’t that expensive, you have people, landlords, brokers and other tenants like yourself asking you that dreaded question, ‘Beta, taiyaari kaisi chal rahi hai?’
My reply, Nahin chal rahi taiyaari didn’t really impress many a landlord and broker. Why does it even matter though? Are people preparing for UPSC, Judiciary, IIT etc. the only ones entitled to proper housing in the middle of the city? Why must I have to be a coaching student to be given a room. Yes, landlord’s discretion and all that but, would it ever hurt anyone if one of their tenants was not really a coaching-going person? As a house-hunting novice, that’s just unfair.
Bhaiya, room badiya hai par bas, area thoda ganda hai
Saket was where I next turned to. Again, no particular reason except that the rooms seemed to be cheap and I always wanted to mimic a South Delhi kid.
Close to the metro station – check. Cheap – check. And, that’s it.
Sure, the room had vitrified tiles and sunlight pouring into the room but, that was it. No furnishings at all. Not even fans or wardrobes or tables or chairs. Just a vacant room.
That’s not all however. Saket, and a lot of places I visited have a lot of newly constructed buildings, buildings with rooms specially catered to the demographic who would have need for a single room for use as a 1 BHK or a PG. Places with clean, spotless walls and paint. Alas, take a peek outside and the reality looks straight back at you.
Most of these buildings are in localities that are politely put, shady at best. Characters walk past you reeking of smoke and weed, the blind alleys lead to dark corners where people huddle and whisper and the air is constantly punctuated by the construction of many more such rooms and PGs. This is what you get in the early days of house-hunting.
Room hai ya cubicle? Shuru hote hi khatm ho gaya
Disappointed by my travels across the national capital, I sought the one place where I was told every prayer for a room is answered: Mukherjee Nagar.
Hundreds of thousands of students. Studying, getting coached, surviving. Like Kota, Mukherjee Nagar is a hub of coaching centres. IIT, IAS, Judiciary, Medical and what not coaching. Apparently, what makes Mukherjee Nagar such an attraction is not only the presence of the many coaching centres but, the success many of its students have found. And that too with a lower suicide rate than Kota.
Anyways, I did find a few rooms. Just all shitty ones. Rooms partitioned with plywood to forcefully make room for more sheep, toilets clogged with what not and buildings in dingy alleys and by-lanes being used as an assembly line of shitty accommodation.
I was looking for a 1 BHK. This is what I was offered. Not only did no one understand the difference between a PG and 1 BHK but, all the rooms were so small, it made coffins looks more inviting.
And you know what, that doesn’t seem to matter. Much of the accommodation in the area is terrible and yet, there are students by the thousands willing to shell out 8, 9 and even 10K to get one of these small cubicles.
I actually don’t know what’s worse. Landlords and PG owners charging such money for
rooms boxes or the fact that people would want to live in a box just so that they feel they have a fair chance at cracking some exam. Either way, house-hunting wasn’t as easy as I expected.
I still haven’t found a room to my liking. It’s only been 5 days since I’ve been house-hunting but, I’m told it does take a while. Whenever I find one, wherever I find one, I hope they are significantly better than the ones I have seen. Until then, ping me back if you have a 1 BHK up for rent and if it’s close to some restaurant that offers great kebabs.
Image Credits: Google Images, Magicbricks