But can you bank upon the kindness, generosity and hospitality of an exceptionally considerate host forever? The answer is certainly not. Consequently, my soul also started pricking me in order to have my own establishment.
Moreover, my kind, host with his limited resources, could very well look after me; but not after my own guests, who were eager to visit Delhi turn by turn at the earliest. And, of course, persistent pleading from my wife and a five-year old only son was too soul-stirring to be ignored and hence my long, frustrating, disappointing searches for a house.
For this, virtually, impossible task my friend was with me like my shadow and together we decided to make use of a multi-faced strategy. Property dealers were approached; neighborhood people were requested to help; even the students were goaded to come out for help and colleagues in school were retreated to find a suitable two-room set within the range of my pocket.
Various promises and assurances, of course, came in plenty and everyone gave the usual reply that he was trying his best; reminding me that getting a good house needed a long wait and patience.
My friend and I made it a routine to survey one street after the other in search of a house during our free time. Our long pursuit, of course, brought us amusing experiences that may be of interest for others.
As soon as our knock at a house was answered by someone, the owner would frown at us and ask, “Who told you that there is an accommodation on rent here?” Another standard question often heard was, “Why don’t you approach a property-dealer for help?” And the most interesting part was that all this cross-questioning would take place outside the entrance.
No courtesy to let us in or ask even for a glass of water. Even the houses with boards displaying ‘AVAILABLE ON RENT’ used to be declared occupied, when their owners were approached. Many of them often liked me to agree to the conditions that were too rigid to be met.
Most of them demanded a cash security, many times more than the actual rent, for which there was no promise of any receipt. There were others who wanted me to sign a number of conditions like:
1. The house can be got vacated at twenty-four hours’ notice from the land-lord.
2. The tenant won’t have more than one guest at any given time.
3. No disturbing noise or smoke would be tolerated coming from the rented accommodation.
4. The tenant and his family-members would return home latest by 10.00 p.m., failing which the gate would not be opened.
5. The use of the common tap would be available for half an hour in the morning and evening.
Agreeing to most of them was like signing my own death warrant and hence all the frustration and irritation. There came a stage when I came to a breaking point and decided to return to my home-town for good. But my friend is made of a tougher stuff. He cheered me up and saved me from losing the battle.
During the search period, we contacted even a number of property-dealers, who assured me to get a good house on condition of my giving them one month rent as their commission. Some of them even took us to a number of houses. Some were too old and dingy; some had no privacy; some were too expensive and some seemed to have highly demanding land-lords.
However, I was greatly relieved when one of my own teacher-colleagues agreed to rent me out a portion of his house at a reasonable rent and that too without any strings attached. The offer was a welcome relief to a dejected soul and I found the delay in getting a house a real boon in disguise. I was now a happy man, indeed, who aptly remembered the consoling words of Shelley:
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?