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   The search for accommodation continues... (September 16, 1986)

The search for accommodation continues:

A friend took me to an agent yesterday afternoon: Fat-bellied, unshaven, rubber bathroom-slippers. The table was bare, you don't need papers and files to buy and sell houses, not at least in Bombay. The man's office seemed to be his uncanny brains.

He spoke with confidence of a businessmen in seller's market. There was nothing to give out on hire. He was not in that kind of business. If I wanted paying guest accommodation. I should go to some other agent. Then he gave me a bit of a homily: how in Bombay a man should strive to own a flat, not live in rented rooms. Even at my advnced age, I could start striving to own a flat.

I made a quick mental calculation. To own a modest flat would cost me Rs. 15 lakh. If after a whole life of working I had not been able to put aside a lakh of rupees, how long and how many more lives it would take me to save Rs. 15 lakh?

The agent had by this time forgotten me. He was discussing with my friend, who had taken me there. Prospects of my friend buying office premises. There was a place only Rs. 10 lakh. My friend wated to see it, I went along.

We walked down the road, he in his rubber-bathroom-alippers, looking like he owned the city (which he did not, but he at least had a say in the disposal of half the accommodation availables in the city), my friend, who could afford to spend Rs. 10 lakh on an office, myself.

The place was on the ground-floor of a residential building. The entrance to the building stank of urine, a normal smell in most Bombay buildings. The place for sale itself was occupied by a family as its residence.

It was a small room, most of it filled by a double-bed, and a little accompanying compartment which served as a kitchen, bath, etc. The man of the house, the agent, my friend, sat on sofa, chair, and conferred. I sat on the bed.

Most of the business they talked, I did not understand. They talked of floot-space, area, on money registration fees, society, commission for the society, for the society's president, for our friend the house agent, freehold, lease, out goings, deposits, earnest money, the new government act to come in October, the agent's advice on how to get around the pertinent chewue, Rs. 4 lakh otherwise.

They all seemed supremely confident in their knowledge and wealth. People who had come to Bombay from outside and made their for tunes, built and bought their houses. And for a minute, just for a minute, I felt sympathy with the Shiv Sena's cause.

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