Column: Roof Over My Head

Please note: This column was first featured in The Goan on Saturday.

When I tell anyone I’m currently in Mumbai, not the immediate, but one of the questions asked is – where are you putting up? Good question!

So where do Goans like me (immigrants) stay in Mumbai? Putting up in this city gets very convenient if we have a “godfather” here. Uncles, aunties, grandparents, cousins, etc. turn out to be godfathers during our first few months in this chaotic city. And if you have a house here, this could be your heaven.

But then what do you do if you do not have relatives who will provide shelter till you settle in Mumbai? Plus, you’re not in a position to shell out thousands of rupees just to get a roof over your head. In such a case, most people apply to hostels. Earlier, I thought that it was only girls like me who put up in hostels. But I recently discovered that a guy colleague, who also happens to be a Goan lives in a hostel for boys. The only difference between the two hostels (apart from the obvious) is that girls have a deadline to follow, whereas guys can enter and exit at any time. I don’t know if this is good or otherwise, but hostel is a great option when you’re looking for safety and accommodation that’s inexpensive. Say goodbye to late night parties, maybe? Also, hostels allow every hostellite to stay comfortably for three years till he/she is familiar with the city and is ready to face approaching challenges.

The next convenient option, which is also a little difficult to find is someone who’s looking for paying guests. During college days, a couple of my friends used to put up as paying guests. One such friend used to live with an elderly Goan lady in Colaba. The lady was a gem, she used to say. She would ask my friend to play the piano or at times they’d discuss some classic novels over a cuppa. However, she had to go house-hunting when this lady decided to sell her place to settle in London. On the other hand, another friend had a hard time with her house owner. She wasn’t even allowed to use the kitchen.

When such issues arise, many of us prefer a place all to ourselves. But finding an apartment can be a daunting task. Pampering a broker, and then paying an amount by burning a hole in your pocket. In addition to this, you are not allowed to stay in a flat for more than a year, which means you need to renew your contract every year. And a year in Mumbai is nothing less than a flash. Many of us Goans like other immigrants prefer sharing an apartment. This cuts-costs while opening opportunities to set up your own kitchen rather than relying on restaurant food or a dabbawallah.

And then we wish, if only we had a house of our own in this city!

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Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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