2017 was a multifaceted year for me and throughout it was constructed with blocks of hardships and towards the end came the home stretch. We are still running the home stretch in several aspects. But the troubles are not what I want to write about. They come and go and I don’t know how I am going to fare through them yet. But I have learnt one solid lesson from all that I faced and all that I am facing – A lot of people, even those whom you trust to understand you, will sometimes won’t. One of the major issues I see is that not everyone knows what it means when you say NO to something. The rejection of their idea/suggestion/<whatever> is unacceptable to them. I was shell shocked to see that this caused a lot of friction in an otherwise normal situation. I always assumed that we have evolved into this century enough to know that every individual has a choice when it comes to things that involve them and the person who is involved has the final say. However, to get this done, to make the message reach, the struggle I had to go through was so tiring that I started wondering if people really know what it means when I say NO or when I say that I don’t want to do something they suggest.
I was sitting in a Starbucks outlet savoring an ill-chosen Cafe latte (I like cold brew than hot ones), waiting for Adit to join me. Since I had let my phone battery run down to 10% and did not bother to charge it before venturing out, I couldn’t do what one usually does while passing time at a Starbucks outlet – stare at your phone, browsing through mundane stuff. So instead, I chose to indulge in some people watching – not the creepy type but the subtle type. 🙂
Everyone was busy with their phones or talking among themselves when a family walked in. From the usual Indian context setting, I could figure out it was a group consisting of a mother with her 2 kids and either her parents or in-laws. Among the kids, the daughter was the one who immediately caught my eye. She could be about 10-12 years old and was dressed in a cool t-shirt and shorts, with short hair, fancy accessories. She was really cute and carried herself well. My mind, with typical human tendencies, started its overthinking about how far ahead kids these days are.
There is so much more to you than I can explain. What do I say to people who ask me why you are so important to me? You just are. There are so many ways to explain us. But none of them make it to becoming words. That’s when I realize. It’s not about explaining. It’s not about trying to fit in. It’s not about worrying that we didn’t get a normal life like many others. It’s about living in that reality where everything makes sense to us. That abstract reality is the best paradox I have encountered in my life and in so many ways, the best thing that happened to me. For some it may be an absurd thing to draw inspiration from or something that they can’t understand how much ever they try. But for us, it just fits. Life for us is very different and we know that. It is not a mandate that everyone else understands it. It’s enough that we do and that we do it well. That’s all that matters.
Until later 🙂
Who doesn’t have the desire to own a home? Everyone desires a place that they can call it their own, be it lavish or utilitarian, splashed with aesthetics or a low-key utilitarian. I am no different. I have always wanted a place of my own. I very well knew that I would end up taking a hefty loan and the place wouldn’t really be “mine” till I pay off the loan. But this is an illusional world we live in. We are provided with EMIs which make us indebted on the stake of money which we are yet to earn. Anyway, I digress. I followed the world and clinched my desire by booking a flat. I had very little prior experience with respect to all this real estate, flat construction but there has to be a first time for everything. I started my learning process with this positive thought.
As much as I love our new place, decorating it up, settling in, relishing that I have reached my dream, there are certain ugly truths that I need to face and that’s what nudged me to write this post. In this process of getting it constructed and moving in, we have shed tears, blood, sweat and what not. There are certain dirty clauses that lay hidden in that construction, sale agreements that you sign with nothing more than a skim-read. Behind all those flattering words and smiles, there are certain cunning layers to that marketing guy trying hard to make you book a flat with his firm. There is a certain table left to be turned once you cross that threshold from being a prospective buyer to a trapped customer.
Here are some samples for you to ponder on:
1. Ever wondered how the director of the constructions firm is coming down to meet you just because you wanted to clear some doubts before you hand over that cheque? You might have even wondered whether you commanded that kind of a respect. I request you to stop right there and throw away that narcisstic thought. It is the cheque you might hand over afterwards that commands the respect, not you. Never you. Yes, there’s only a 50% chance that you might book the flat even after you get your discussions done, but that 50% chance is one that’s worth taking for them. If you don’t believe me, wait till you pay up almost 80-90% of the cost as the building progress and see how they behave when you want the interiors finished soon for the rest 10% of the cost. You will see quite a personality change!
2. Possession in xx months – the xx will vary depending on what state of construction the building is in. The maximum quote for a normal apartment at the initial stages of construction would be 14 months + 3 months of grace period. When they say this, stop them right there and read the sale-construction agreement again. There will be a clause that will save their asses from fire when they go beyond the grace period. All possible reasons will be cited such as materials unavailability or labour unavailability. This clause will be used as an excuse again and again till your ears bleed.
If you are smart enough to get a rental penalty clause inserted,(Many builders safely do not insert this clause, assuming we are that dumb. Not to blame them, some of us are.) then miraculously all their labour and material problems will be solved in a minute and your flat will be hurriedly made into a ready condition – one that is just enought to move in, leaving you to wonder about the quality of the work when done in such a hurry. Needless to mention, there will be an aftermath of such hurry where you have to deal with new problem every day. A new day and a new problem, Yay!
3. Quality – Shortly said, when you book the flat, you will promised out of the world quality, but you will get quality which will really make you want to go out of this world. Only way to get this right is to follow up like an obsessed maniac and look at the materials used, read up on internet and so on. You will become a civil engineer short of the educational degree.
4. “We will be completing this task in another ten days” – The most infamous phrase used by the builders. Never trust this excuse. The ten days will span across weeks, months and even over an year. If I had given my rental notice to vacate on the date promised to me, I would have been living on the roads. Do your planning and keep a buffer of minimum 1-2 months.
5. Amenities – This is a huge looting booth for the constructors. The amenities promised and the ones delivered hardly match up. For example, you will be promised a world-class roof-top swimming pool and you will be provided with a bath tub sized one which is too small that it can’t even be called a baby pool. Also,the amenities will not be constructed in the promised time frame but will be in progress even a year after you move in, however, we will expected to cough up the cost of the flat, inclusive of amenities, the moment you move in.
The list goes on…They say that there are good constructors who don’t loot us. I am yet to come across one. I agree that I only talk of the experience of closely witnessing a couple of flats getting constructed in the family and then getting my flat constructed. But believe me when I say, getting one flat constructed will give you enough picture about this. So what should we do about this?
For one, don’t believe a word they tell you when you are a prospective customer. Do your research. In spite of your diligence, there will be mess-ups and that’s life. But the more you do your research, the less ignorant you will be of the scams pulled on you. Before you book a flat, make sure you have the time and energy to closely follow up with the project. Be prepared to make that project your life for that span of time. You will have to think about it literally every waking moment and sometimes in your dreams too. I had many a reminders about things to be done for my place in my dreams. I also spent many sleepless nights pondering over lists to go through, check boxes to be ticked, things to buy and so many other things.
In spite of all this, don’t get shooed away from the dream of owning a place, if that’s what you want. Don’t get pushed into it by the societal pressure that you must own a place once you are at a certain age or stage in your life. If you want to own a place, venture into it well-prepared, armed with some prior research, some know-hows and a lot of energy. You will have a life experience that will teach you many things that you wouldn’t have dreamed of.
Until later 🙂
Yes, I am back! Don’t ask me where I was or what I was doing the entire July. No, don’t even start thinking of asking me. Because, though I am familiar with Murphy’s law and his infamous life tricks, what I didn’t realize was that he has a patented right to rule over your life when you are planning something big. Yes, I finally shifted to my own place and kinda slowly winding down like that toy car which is on the last turn of the key. I had wound up myself pretty much to the breaking point before I started this entire shifting houses thing and that and only that helped me last this long. Only that helped me face the pretty things that Murphy dropped along my way.
1. You can be a perfectionist planning everything to the last detail. You can write down literally everything to the minute that you are going to do. You can be the God of check-lists. Still you will be left with a hoard of stuff to do, glaring at your face.
2. When you are shifting houses, especially to a new place which has to be set up from the scratch, you better start the de-cluttering process months before. Otherwise, you will be neck-deep in the junk vs usable filtering process and at the same time running around to set up the new place.
3. Once you move in to your new place, don’t expect things to settle down. Everyday some or the other thing will come up to greet you in the morning and to make the day a lousy one.
4. The best of all learning, moving into a new house of your own only means more work. The cleaning, dusting, arranging, rearranging will just eat your time up. There will be nothing else.
5. And hence anything that can go wrong will go wrong. In all aspects of life.
Despite all this, this entire moving to a new house has been a huge learning experience for me. The retrospective view that I got during this experience was indeed an eye opening one. I learnt to differentiate between people who genuinely help and those who just give sound advice. I learnt that being posted to Hyderabad for my first job was not as bad after all. The Telugu I learnt there has helped in ways I never thought it would. My broken Hindi was repaired to some extent, thanks to my carpenter who bore all my lingual mistakes and still understood what I was trying to tell him.
Amidst all the chaos, we finally moved into our new place and set it up. I know that this feeling of achievement will soon be replaced by one of a long sigh that signals exasperation. But I also know this signals another milestone in our life, a new life, a new beginning… Here’s to a new place and a new start. Cheers!
Until later 🙂
P.S: My reader is overflowing with unread posts, give me sometime to be back in action, will ya? 🙂