Have you seen all those American films where young boys and girls move out of their parents’ homes to start a life of their own? Romantic isn’t it? The freedom, the responsibility, the feeling of power? Well, life isn’t a movie and I have learnt it the hard way!

As a single, working girl living far from home I, tired of the unscrupulous landlord of my paying guest accommodation (guest! Right! Sigh…), decided to spread my wings and taste life all on my own…in an apartment all to myself! But if only wishes were horses… Snap out of it. Here is the real deal. Finding a house is a pain. It involves almost all emotions known to mankind: happiness, pain, sadness, laziness and hope. This blog comes from personal experience.

All excited, you first open a real estate web site: Sulekha or Magic Bricks or any other. Type in your requirements and your budget. Then the smile on your face vanishes. “Sorry, there are no listings that match your search.” I am a journalist, hence don’t have all the money in the world. With a heavy heart, I increase my budget by Rs 1,000. No luck. Then by Rs 2,000. “There are 3 listings that match your search.” Three, phew.

I hastily wrote down the numbers of the listed broker. I call him up immediately and he says, “ Madam, vo ghar to uth chuka hai (that house is no longer available).” Don’t worry, all is well, you say to yourself. “ Aur koi ghar dikhaoge? (Can you show some other houses?) “ Haan Madam, par aapke budget mein to mushkil hi hai, ” the broker says with a hint of sarcasm. You curse yourself for entering the low-paying field of journalism. You wish you had listened to your parents and studied for CAT. Aaaaargh. Life is so unfair. “ Achcha aap dikhao, rent negotiate kar lenge, ” I say.

The time and date is fixed for house hunting. You wrap a scarf around your head to escape from the blistering heat and follow the broker on a rickshaw, going from house to house. Keep this in mind, the broker will never show you a good house first. Never. At least that’s what happened with me. He will show you disgusting houses with not a speck of sunlight coming in. The balcony is so narrow that you can hardly stand without your stomach touching the railing and back hitting the wall. The bathroom is all the way at the end of the train-compartment type houses. He will show you 4-5 such houses. You will lose all hope and say, “ Bhaiya, budget thoda increase karte hain. Aisa ghar dikhao jisme window ho at least.” The next house will be a delight. Windows, balcony, parking, everything. What’s the rent, you ask. “ Madam, ghar to dekho pehle ,” the broker says. I fell in love with the house instantly. But the rent was Rs 5,000 less than my salary. I felt like crying right in front of the broker.

I went back to my paying guest accommodation, cursing rentals and inflation and everything. I even dreamt of that beautiful house. But did not lose hope. After 5 such broker-stints, I found a house just right within my budget. A cute little DDA flat. It was just perfect. But when has life been kind to house-seekers. I met the landlord and told him that I work for a newspaper and will end up coming home late. “Aap akeli ladki ho? Late night aana nahi chalega,” the owner said. Ye shareef logon ki colony hai , he added. WHAAAT? Just because I work till late night, I am not shareef ? I am a journalist damnit. But there is still some kindness left in the world. I managed to findd this sweet Sardar uncle-aunty who not only reduced the rent, but gave me a fridge with the house too. Not all hope is lost, I say.