Brokers and the real value of ‘40x60'
There is hardly any difference between a matrimonial ad and a rental ad. Both have strong preferences. The one or two lines may contain only a few words, but hidden in them are a thousand expectations. Those who go house hunting are almost like potential brides who get evaluated from many perspectives and angles before the dowry deal is struck.
The broker rings the bell confidently, the front door opens and the lord of the house comes out. He stares imperiously at you. “Nice party, sahebre,” says the broker, breaking the ice.
“Come in, sit down. Where are you from? Veg or non-veg? With or without children? Your office name? Night duty or regular duty? Have dogs?,” the grilling begins. Once you pass that ordeal, the landlord says “Come, let's go upstairs, please wipe your feet before entering the first floor drawing room, I took the trouble of cleaning it only yesterday. Previous tenant left behind a mess, you know.”
As you begin surveying, and notice the kitchen in what you assume to be the southwestern corner and the bedroom in the northeast, you dig into your pocket to retrieve the magnetic compass which always points to true north and gives you an idea of directions. But broker keeps saying “perfect vaasthu” every two minutes. The debate rages on whether vaasthu is valid or not. “Convenience matters, not vaasthu,” swear the non-believers. “Wrong vaasthu causes inconvenience,” the believers warn.
I walked into one house to take a look at the first floor tenement available for rent. “Who told you about the vacancy,” the owner scowled. “Ramu uncle” I said. The scowl persisted. He then warned me that I should not move in and pack off after six months, just like previous tenants, as he spends four or five months of the year in the U.S. and cannot fly back to Bangalore just to collect the house keys. He noted down my home and office telephone numbers. The next morning, he called me at my office and loudly said that he just wanted to check whether I actually work where I said I did. I didn't move in.
In another house, the owner was not visible. The broker had the keys and he said “perfect house for you, sir.” The hall was big, the bathroom was twice as big, and there were three massive bedrooms. The kitchen, in the north-east, was a beauty. It was four ft. wide and 10 ft. long, L-shaped and had no ventilation. “Pucca vaasthu” said the broker. As I walked out disappointed, he advised me to ‘adjust' on vaasthu. In one old bungalow where a tough-looking woman lived all alone, one portion of the house carried the board “To let”. The broker introduced me to the owner as “nammavare madam” but the madam did not smile. “How many children do you have?” she asked angrily. “Only one son” I admitted meekly. “I don't want children in my house. Real nuisance they are” she said.
Frustrated after showing me 30 houses, the broker one day advised me: “40x60 site tekkoli saar.”
Anyway, how much is 40x60? The illiterate may say ‘2400.' But for the smart-alec from Bangalore, it is equal to 25 or 30 lakhs. Young men from the city have married comely lasses from Mangalore or Shimoga by claiming to the unsuspecting father-in-law that they own a 40x60 site. The girl's father immediately okays the alliance and offers a dowry of Rs. 25 lakh. As everyone knows, one week after marriage, the girl realises that her husband has nothing but short sight. He does not even own a 20x20 site or have a 20x20 vision and he lives in a tiny rented place, reading borrowed newspapers through thick spectacles.
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