Thursday, October 25, 2012

The House Hunt

Everything depends on the house. It is the only thing that can make me look forward to my move to Mumbai.
There are 3 options when moving to any city:
1) Find a house as close to office as possible to reduce the commute. A house near office is generally expensive or in a not so great area...
2) Find a house some distance away from office. A compromise between commute, area and rent.
3) Find a luxurious house far away from office. The commute is huge but atleast weekends are peaceful

I went to Mumbai 2 weeks back to find a place. My aim was 1. I was sure I wanted to reduce the commute as much as possible. Office is at Lower Parel. So options were Dadar, Mahim, Wadala, Sion etc. I ended up opting for 2. I found a flat in Andheri West.
Reasons are below:
1) The flat is very, very good with security at the gate. I prefer houses with good security since I will live alone for sometime. Even though Mumbai is relatively safe, why take a chance?
2) The commute to office is less than 45 mins- 20-30 mins by train. There is no avoiding the local train. Some trains start from Andheri and should be less crowded in the first class ladies compartment. I can manage a 20-30 mins commute one way.. anything more and I will be exhausted.
3) My Jazz class- Danceworx have a branch in Lokhandwala. I can even join the weekday classes since the Mumbai timings are late at night unlike Gurgaon where they have to wind up early due to safety reasons
4) My bro lives in Andheri West... at walking distance from my flat.

The 3 days were torture. I would be so exhausted at the end of the day. Why is the house hunt such a torture in every city? Why do we need to contact soooo many brokers in different areas? Why can't there be 1 company which has branches everywhere and works professionally?

Day 1: Saturday: I had planned to check out flats in and around South Mumbai. The broker had promised to show me 4-5 flats in Wadala in my budget. Now here is the catch... I spoke to professional brokers on the phone but these guys don't show the flats. They send their minions (for lack of a better word). Nobody cares about what the tenant is looking for... they will show you what they have irrespective of your preferences. Anyway, so the minion asked me to come to Koliwada. The name made me suspicious but KC and I went anyway... the next broker was scheduled for 3 pm so we had time to kill. The minion showed us a flat at Sion Koliwada... in the interiors of Sion where I had no hopes of finding a cab or auto or bus or train. The nearest station was on harbour line (Lower Parel is on Western line). The flat was pathetic. Why would someone commit flats in Wadala and then show me something in Sion????
KC and I sat on the parapet outside the building and frantically called all the brokers on my list.
Finally, a guy offered to show us flats in Everad Nagar. I have stayed in Mumbai for 2 years and never heard the name. It is an area between Chembur or Eastern Express Highway and Sion. There are a few buildings near the main road. They have a service lane... BUT... it has the highest traffic in Mumbai... there are no shops around. People have to cross over onto the opposite side through a subway ... go to Chunabhatti station road ... and then shop for groceries. The flat was good... but the noise levels were high... the building had cracks... the guard didn't even ask us anything when we entered. KC liked it... I did not. The next flat was in Kurla- one of the most crowded and busiest station in Mumbai. The flat was good but it was ground floor. I hate ground floor... I like high rises.
We then contacted another broker who showed us flats in Kalina/ Santa Cruz East. Living here would reduce travel time to less than 30 mins. On a lazy day, I could even take a cab. BUT, it is a dirty, crowded area. We saw flats without security or parking. As long as we closed the windows and doors it was perfect. As soon as we peeked out, we would see the slums around. I have lived around slums and did not want to this time.
In the evening we headed to Parel. The broker made us wait for 30 mins and then took us through small, tiny lanes to a building so dirty I wanted to hit him. We asked the cab to turn back without even getting out of it.

End of day 1: Not one flat where I could imagine myself living in. KC liked Everad Nagar and Kurla.

Day 2: I had scheduled Western suburbs for day 2. Kalina had been preponed to day 1... so we just had Andheri. We saw 4-5 flats and liked 2. I was impressed. I didn't know the flats were so good in this area. The only problem was that only the train was an option. I could not even try a bus or cab since the area is a bit in the interior. The advantages were my bro stayed at walking distance, the sports complex is close by, Lokhandwala is at walking distance... I could stay in a good area and flat but the commute would be more than what I had planned. KC kept telling me horror tales about Andheri stations. It is one of the busiest stations. I was confused.
Next another broker was supposed to show us flats in Santa Cruz West and East. He made us wait for 30 mins in the heat... we were waiting in the Muslim area and the flat was somewhere there. There was a mosque nearby. Now, I don't believe in religion, color, caste and creed... BUT... I have lived near a mosque and its torture. They preach or pray on loudspeakers 4-5 times in a day. There is singing and praying at 6 am. It is very, very irritating. I had decided not to stay near a mosque and slum this time. We asked the broker to "beep" off.
We then contacted a broker in Sion who had flats in our budget. The flat was close to the main road but without the noise... flat was good BUT it was on the ground floor. He showed us 2 more flats but we hated both. Also, Sion has nothing... no posh restaurants... malls... entertainment options... for anything I would have to go to Dadar or Mahim or Lower Parel.
Now I was confused- stay away from office but in a posh area or stay close to office and not in a not so great area. I could not sleep all night... the flat gave me nightmares. I could imagine myself getting depressed every night coming home to an empty home. My head said- pick Sion... my heart wanted Andheri.
We kept Sion as a backup.

Day 3: The Sion broker had not called back to confirm the flat but Andheri guy did. We met the owner, paid the token and it was decided. Weird thing is - by day 3 we had only 1 flat in hand. Most we didn't like or were not sure about ... and for others, the broker did not revert.

I guess I am not the sort of person who can compromise on standard of living. A good and comfortable home is topmost priority.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Its goodbye

Yes... I am moving to Mumbai... No, KC is not moving right now... No, we are not separating... Yes, I am not wearing my wedding ring these days 'coz the diamond came off... No, I am not lying... Yes, it was my decision.
Most people around me cannot fathom why I am moving... actually, not one person has told me I am making the right decision (except for a senior). But thats ok. I am the queen of radical and unpredictable decisions.
But, let me start at the beginning. When I moved to Gurgaon I was given the same profile that I had been doing for 2 years in Mumbai. I was not too keen but beggars cannot be choosers and I cannot demand location and profile. The last 1.5 years have been extremely comfortable. I have had time to do everything I have always wanted to do- dance, gym, jog, cook, spend time with KC, socialize, eat out, watch movies... everything. Except... I have been bored... so bored that its visible on my face. I am not the sort of person who can just sit still or do the same thing. Thats just not me. And success in my career is quite important. KC has been pushing me for a year to take up opportunities but I kept putting it off. Why leave the comfort zone? But some events pushed me to think about getting out of the comfort zone:

  1. Some juniors from my college are at my level now... I didn't want to wait till they had moved levels above me
  2. I have crossed more than 3 years in the same profile... I don't want to be here at the end of the 4th year... 
  3. My plan was to stay in this level for 2 years... I have been here for 3.5 years...  my career is running 1.5 years late... cannot delay it anymore
I looked for opportunities in Delhi but realized soon that nothing is available here and it will have to be Mumbai. I spoke to seniors in the hope that something would work out in 2-3 months. Fortunately or unfortunately, it worked out in a week. I got a call on 14th Sept'12 asking me to report to Mumbai on 15th Oct'12. KC and I had just entered our hotel room in Jaipur when I got the call. Both of us were in a shock and I was shocked that he is shocked. For someone who has been pushing me to do this for a year he should have been better prepared. It took him an hour to recover and mutter congrats. 
Lesson for KC: Don't ask what you are not prepared to receive.

In my current organization the focus is more on family than career so many consider it a drastic step. You see, its ok for men to leave their spouses and kids and move away for career but its not ok for a woman. No... not kidding. Its so ridiculous... and unfair. Nobody would have blinked if KC would have decided to move out for a better opportunity. Numerous times KC talks about going abroad for further studies... all I do is encourage. I never think about how I will survive 'coz our marriage should not hold us back from living our lives. The marriage should support our individual lives... Marriage is supposed to be a journey and not a destination. 

Anyway, I am not the sort of person who cares about society. My life is led by my rules and nobody else's. 
But it sucks... being a woman sucks big time... specially in the corporate world.

While talking to a friend I realized that the maximum time I have spent in one location or school or hostel has been 4 years of engineering. I switched schools too many times... I spent 8 years in one school but left it 3 times. I was in the boarding and could not live without my parents. Even when I was there for 4 straight years I switched hostels. Wow.. that does change my perspective. No wonder I am bored already. By the way, I am a Gemini so this aspect is not surprising. I thrive on change... 

Another thing I have realized- I love Delhi NCR and want to settle here. KC was kidding that when I am leaving I have realized where I want to spend my life in this city. So, I am going to be back... don't know when... maybe 2 or 5 or 10 years later... but I will be back. Delhi has trumped B'glore as my favorite city. There is a focus on quality of life. People live life king size and thats good. Its nice to see that. 
But.... I will never educate my kids in Delhi.. I may send them off to boarding schools away from the materialistic  and snobbish culture. 
This is what I saw today:
At the cobbler's shop- kid getting his shoes fixed
Cobbler: Done... take your shoes
Kid: How much?
Cobbler: 20 bucks
Kid: Thats it? Why don't you take 50 bucks? (I thought he was joking)
Cobbler- Says nothing
Kid pays him 30 bucks. 
The cobbler shakes his head at me and narrates the incident again. 

I almost felt ashamed trying to bargain and pay him less than what he asked. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sarojini Nagar

Hiya... I went shopping to Sarojini Nagar today. I wanted to pick up some good stuff before moving to Mumbai. Bandra's Linking Road is nothing in front of SN. KC also came along. When he told me he wants to come I was quite apprehensive. I am the kind of person who loves to shop... even window shop and places like SN are heaven for me. RT and I had once window shopped at Brigade Road for 2-3 hours. We didn't buy anything (couldn't afford it) but visited every shop in every lane. It was fun. Such trips are anathema for KC. He only shops for brands and cannot last for more than an hour.
So, today I could cover the entire market since KC lost patience after 45 mins. I just bought 1 top, 1 palazzo pants, 1 waistcoat, 1 pair of footwear and 1 purse. I think I will make one more visit to stock up... this time without KC.

1) Palazzo Pants: They are sooo in right now and I wanted to buy one for ages. I bought a sheer pink one in Zara sale but cannot wear it at work since it is very sheer. SN was full of palazzo pants in different materials, designs, prints... too many options. I only bought one but will buy more next time I go there. I love that PP have made a comeback. My parents had bought a pair when they visited South East Asia and I was in the 9th std. I still wear them. Earlier, people said- its too loose... they look weird... Not anymore... now they are in. People- save those out of style clothes... they will make a come back sooner or later. It cost me 300 bucks. In a mall or even in online sales ( they do not cost less than 2500 bucks.

 2) Sheer tops: Again, SN is full of sheer tops. There are so many options and I wanted to pick up more. Next time. This top is ok from the front. Its the back that is full of surprise. The back is made of lace and net. Too sexy. KC was zapped when I wore it... "But... but... thats transparent... " Me- Arre, I have to wear a slip underneath.. atleast in India. Cost- Rs 200 (after bargaining)

3) I love waistcoats. They can be dressed up for work or dressed down to look sexy. But, it is an addition over regular clothes and I do not like spending 700-1000 bucks over it. This waistcoat is much better than the regular ones since it has to be tied at the back... and is available in various colours. Cost- 400 bucks.

4) I didn't intend to buy footwear 'coz I have soooo many... and I don't like the quality at SN. But, I entered the shop for a look and was hooked by this pair. Colourful and lovely. Cost- Rs 899

Kingdom of Dreams

I am a fan... a huge fan. Earlier, when people recommended this place I would exclaim at the price. Rs 1000 and above for a ticket???
I watched Jhumroo with a friend 'coz the background dancers are from Danceworx. My current and past instructor are part of the show and in every class they would narrate incidents from the show. I wanted to watch it... just to watch them. And now I am hooked. We had purchased the cheapest tickets- Rs 999 and the seats are very far from the stage. I vowed to buy better tickets next time. My subordinate got me free passes for Zangoora for the 4th row. Everyone who has watched both shows told me Zangoora is better. I liked Jhumroo and was eager to watch Zangoora. And here is my verdict- it sucks. Z is about a gypsy prince. A king is killed off by traitors... a loyalist runs off with their son to keep him safe and leaves him with some gypsies. When he grows up, he falls in love with a female who is his father's loyal, kills the traitor and claims back his throne. The leads are Gauhar Khan and Hussain on the weekends. I think there are different leads on the weekdays and thats the reason for the lower priced tickets. Gauhar Khan was not part of the show... there was some look alike of hers. I GK, specially after watching Ishaqzaade. Hussain cannot act... he overacts... the only redeeming qualities are his voice and the six pack abs. When he took off his shirt I said to KC "Thats the first time I have seen 6 pack from such close quarters... generally, its on TV".
Zangoora is not worth the money.
I went to watch Jhumroo again this weekend and loved it. We were in the 3rd row from the stage. I am not sure about KC since he missed the India Pakistan match to come along... but I love the main leads- Gaurav Gera and Shweta Gulati. The background dancers are amazing. They dance continuously for 2.5 hours... In our class we dance with that intensity for 5-10 mins and are exhausted. Superb. Jhumroo is about a guy who cannot sings but thinks he can. He is trying to woo Shweta. To help him Kishore Kumar's soul enters his body and he starts singing. He enters the India's Super Singer contest and enters the finals. The 3 judges are hilarious- just like on Indian Idol. In the last round, Gaurav admits that he cannot sing. It is funny... the songs are superb... imagine listening to Kishore Kumar melodies live. Too good.
Must watch... KOD is also a tourist destination. We saw buses with tourists coming to watch it.
KOD is one of its kind in India and we need more such entertainment options.