As I wrote 2 months ago, I had to move to a new apartment — or “shift” — recently. Actually it’s been 4 weeks since I moved, but work has been unbelievably hectic since the start of 2012 and I’m only just catching up with stuff.
I had been really dreading finding a new place, since my first experience of flat-hunting in Bangalore wasn’t good. So many apartments here seem to be a pile of junk, or really dirty, or with almost no natural light. Or often all three.
So it was a stroke of luck that just as I needed somewhere, both my colleagues Sonia and Nick announced they were about to go back to the UK, and that the flat they were sharing would be free from January. Perfect timing. I was very sorry to see them go, but on the other hand it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Especially in Bangalore, where flat-hunters are usually expected to pay a month’s rent to the real estate agent who found them the property, along with the legendary 10 months rent as a deposit. (Yes, it’s hard to believe!)
As it turned out, I managed to avoid paying any finder’s fee at all — just a nominal payment to the agent for sorting out the contract and paperwork — and the landlord wanted “only” 8 month’s rent as a deposit. Result, as they say.
I’ve moved house a lot in the last 15 years, and it’s nearly always been extremely stressful, because you never really remember how much stuff you have. (And in Edinburgh, somebody typically has to carry it all up/down several flights of stairs.) This time, apart from having very few possessions, and an alleged “van” (see photo) with 3 men helping, I was literally only moving 200 metres down the road. And although I was shifting to the 7th floor, we had a lift. Big difference.
So… I’ve been here a month and I’m absolutely loving the new place, even though it’s in a large “complex”, with swimming pool, gym and stuff. I never really fancied this option at first because I had assumed that most of these places would be full of expats and have some kind of colonial, gated community kind of feel to them. But this place is probably about 99% Indian residents. There are a lot of people here — probably several thousand — and a lot of them are children so it’s quite lively at times, but generally there’s a lovely atmosphere and most of the residents are families or retired people. Plus there’s a small army of security guards, cleaners and domestic servants.
Apart from the gym and stuff, supposedly each block has its own dhobi-wallah who lives in the basement, although I’ve not found him yet. The washing machine is playing up already, so it’s top of my list…
But I’m already feeling very settled here, and I’m getting used to the way the place works.
There’s a road running around the perimeter of the complex, and I’ve been out jogging a few times in the morning, to the amusement of the other residents I think. Walking round is extremely popular, especially in the evenings, and you see lots of people out for their daily exercise. But I’m the only one who runs round, and the only white face.
Today the man with no legs came round collecting paper. (Collecting paper seems to be common in India, and the collectors make money from recycling it.) This guy rang my doorbell on probably the first morning I was here, and I felt bad that I had nothing to give him, and that I couldn’t really explain why, because of the language barrier. Today I had a bag of paper that I’d been saving for him, and he seemed quite pleased.