Saturday, December 5, 2015

House Hunting

First things first. The answer to last time’s picture question is a ‘Vending Machine selling Books’ at Taipei’s High Speed Rail (HSR) station.

I’m going to complete my one year here in Guangzhou and my current house agreement is coming to an end. I never thought I had to change the house, well, in India, good tenants continue to stay forever. Literally forever! Sometimes for generations and the owners then have to pay an incentive to the tenants to make them vacate the house. Having come from such a background, I was amazed to hear my landlady informing me 1 month in advance that she would increase the rent by 10% and charge the brokerage fee again to renew the rental agreement. Wow! That came as a very unpleasant surprise.

As per my Indian standards, I considered the situation as an act of ‘Greed’. She hasn’t acknowledged my loyalty – keeping the house spic clean, paying the rent on time, keeping her well-informed of my vacations and other things. So, I set out, brave and unafraid of the world, trying to find a better place for myself. Two friends came to help (they are doing it till date!) and they have spent more hours than me trying to find the place. One-quarter of my friend’s phone book is filled with just the phone numbers of agents and landlords. I personally think that she has learnt the trick(s) of this trade and is now more than capable of starting a rental agency in Guangzhou.

I have learnt the hard way that ‘People in the housing industry are fake’. They quote lower rents on the websites to attract more phone calls. The pictures shown on the webpage and the actual place do not always match. A 2 bedroom place at a reasonable price should mean that someone is already living there but it’s not mentioned in the advertisement. When the landlord says, ‘I’m out of station and transfer a token advance money first’, it means the place exists only in a fictional world. When the agent tells you that he will show you 5 houses, most probably 3 out of 5 will be in the same building. Only in this world, can they have a washroom bang opposite to a kitchen, a kitchen set-up in an open balcony, a kitchen-cum-washroom. Reality strikes. I understand why my landlady thinks too high of her apartment.

I was reading an article a few weeks back on 10 things one should do if one likes travelling and one of the points was to live alone, live alone in a not so familiar country. I realize how I was taking so many things for granted back in India. I don’t know why they call India a poor country. I know there are those financial dimensions that they take into consideration. But I personally think an average person (middle class) lives much more comfortably there than in any other part of the world. Starting from the morning, we have a guy delivering milk to us everyday, a lady who comes to clean and dust our house, another one to cook, one more to wash our clothes and clean our utensils, a man delivering newspapers, a vendor coming to take our clothes for starch/ironing and then coming back to deliver it, come evening the same guy delivers milk again and a watchman blows his whistle throughout the night and stays up along with the stray dogs on the street to safeguard and protect us. I wonder how many people in the developed countries enjoy this kind of a luxury (ignoring the fact whether we really need it or not). It’s time people who enjoy these privileges start appreciating what they are receiving and respecting the people who put in a lot of effort to make it happen for them.

On that note, Enjoy Winters!

Swan on Coffee