21 Apr 2008

My favourite landlord

It was the April of 2001. I was planning to move out of my parents home. Actually the plans were made about six months back but my Dad dissuaded me through some complicated logic which involved buying a new car and my brother's marriage.

Let me give you some advice. Never start looking for a place in April. Cause even if you get it many many years later when your lease finally gets over and your landlord decides to kick you out you again have to look for a house in summer.

Anyways I did not know all these pathetic details at that time. The idea was to look for something close to work to avoid traffic. Most of us do not remember the times before the Dhaula Kuan and the AIIMS flyover. Traffic was real bad.

The thing about looking for a house in Delhi is that you are always a disadvantage. Bachelor, student - will get girls over. Married - will consume too much water. Lawyer - will not leave. Punjabi - will always fight. The list is endless. One place I was hown the sample contract which included a "no consumption of drugs" clause since the previous tenant had been busted a few months go in a high profile case.

Many houses later, including some near handshakes, I finally landed on something. Expensive and a cranky landlord. I remember getting into a fight the first day I moved it. About putting a bell or something. Most of my friends had warned me about aggressive landlords. But nothing really happened after. Everything quietened down soon.

The place was fun since I did not have much to travel for work. I remember the winter mornings on the terrace having many cups of chai waiting for the clock to strike ten so that I could walk down to the studio.

My landy was an funny character. Since he stayed below he would stop me on my way up or when I left my house. He always asked questions about my work. We even shot a film at that house. And all the time he watched us, all excited asking several questions about the camera.

But never did he ask about my friends. People would come and go, even stay over but no questions asked.

Of course there were parties. I mean big gatherings with about 30-40 people. Again no issues for my landlord. Once a friend of mine wanted to throw a party for his lady love. The problem was that I had to go to another party the same day. When I returned, the place was in a mess with a couple of groups on the verge of a fist fight. I thought this is going to be my last day here.

The next morning after all my friends had staggered out, the only thing my landy talked about was the music that was played the earlier night. Then he moved onto comparing jazz music with qawwali.

I treasured the two years I stayed there...

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