Feeling: REAL (ESTATE)
I tell you what, this last week resting up and recuperating in Jaipur has been exactly what I needed.
I’ve had a few moments of guilt feeling that I should head on in to see a temple or get involved in the cultural side of things for an afternoon, but doing what I have been – awaking, going to the gym, writing SGG, watching Gossip Girl (Serena still grates me), doing lots of yoga and just going for little roams around the area – has been absolutely ideal and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
And I’ve had such a fabulous time with Uncle Jamie when he’s been here and not on a flying overnight, with lots and lots of laughs.
Such as yesterday. My word, I had a lot of fun.
So to set the context for you to get the story sorted: Uncle Jamie and his pal Parko (Aussie, as you may have picked up from the nickname) are both pilots for Air India. They work eight weeks on, three weeks off, whereby the two months on tour necessitates a bit of a base to live in as they fly.
They are currently going through the motions of working out which is better – hotel habitating or apartment occupying.
Which is how I found myself saddled between the two in the backseat of a car belonging to an Indian real estate agent and his fellow property manager. (Just to clarify that: the agent was driving, the manager was in the front seat, Parko was on the right in the back, Jamie on the left and I twas in the middle).
Jamie and Parko had laid out their specifications – Western style, within 12km of the airport, built within the last few years, three bedroom, in a certain price bracket and preferably with a gym included in the complex – and the men had sorted a few for our viewing.
I was intrigued to see how they would go. From experiences with Indian salesmen and knowing a few through working myself, I expected quite a slick showing of upsell. You know, charm personified with an even almost aggressive convincing to sign up to a six-month lease.
So I was surprised to find it wasn’t the case at all.
The lads we were with were not one bit pushy in the slightest; in fact, I’d even go the other way in saying they were almost disinterested. They relayed the required info after being prompted (“How much is this one a month?”, “Does it come furnished?”), and often this was after a quick convo in Hindi with each other to find out the answer to the query. It was actually quite nice to not have the swarmy act going on.
And the apartments? Well, we ended up going to two (the third scheduled to view ended up being only an exterior sighting as the man with the key couldn’t be gotten ahold of).
The first was a completely empty expansive space that you could tell hadn’t been lived in for a fair while. You know how if you were showing a site, as an agent, you would have it primed up to its best appearance? Or at least have it somewhat clean? Well this one was pretty dirty with crap all over the floor (not poos; I’m talking like rubble and what not) and pigeons roosting on all the balconies outside.
It was nice though. Spacious and sunlit and fulfilling all the specifications (minus the gym). But it had a bit of a clinical feel to it, not a homely hum, and Jamie and Parko weren’t sold. (Or up to rent, as was the case).
So we headed onto King’s Landing. 7.4km from Jaipur International Airport, three bedroom, with a gym (a great little room down the bottom complete with a foosball table, a ping pong one and some semi-deflated Swiss balls – could totally see it becoming a sort of man pad) and a title straight out of Game of Thrones (selling – again, more renting – point for Parko it seemed). Though this one was too rather on the unclean side (construction debris rather than lived-in dirt in this case, with it being a mere six months old and never resided in), it had a much better chi about it and the boys said they could see themselves living there.
At this point, it seemed the apartment way may well be the go. And then we went to see The Fern, a hotel round the way.
Mate, it was sensational.
A bit more intimate at only 80 rooms rather than a big conglomerate’s 200 plus, The Fern came complete with two restaurants (one rooftop, other third-floor buffet of which breakfast and dinner there were included in the quoted nightly rate), a fully equipped gym, an award-winning bar-slash-nightclub totted the “place to go in Jaipur” (ironically polarisationally appelled, “The Grunge”), freshly laundered sheets each night as well as four pieces of attire washed and ironed and rooms of an adequate size with their own movable desk (much preferable to the more standard same-place ones).
While Jamie and Parko had been sort of seeming to be leaning the apartment way after King’s Landing, The Fern threw it all back up into confusion.
Pros and cons were debated over dinner later, with both having equal push and pull (I.e., both lots of pull and not so much push).
The verdict? Happy either way. (As I would be on their decision too, I told them, as no doubt I would be taking up residency with them there every so often).
As they are not in a hurry to have to make a decision as yet (current hotel life still on company accounts) they do not have to decide today, but the options are known.
Throughout the afternoon there were plenty of moments of hilarity and observance. But a couple to note that stood out or stayed with me.
1. Upon reaching The Fern, we asked the desk boy if Sunjeep (salesman Jamie had been dealing with) was in; “Um, I’ll look,” he (the deskboy, not Sunjeep) said. He proceeded to turn to a door behind him, open it, look, shut it, turn back and say, “No. Sunjeep doesn’t work weekends.”
He (again, the deskboy, not Sunjeep) said he would get the manager of the night – Priyanka. He pointed at a female sitting at a desk a mere ten metres away who was talking on the phone. He then picked up his own phone and punched in to call her. Only to find the line engaged as she – as we could clearly see – was on the phone. So he hung up and walked over.
Honestly, to keep the face straight was so damn difficult. As it was again in the elevator when he found out Parko was from Queensland, Australia, as that was where his cousin-sister lived. “Do you know her?” He asked.
Very, very naively cute.
2. All the ads for apartments come with a number followed by the three letters, “BHK”. While just a B would be quite obvious as “bedroom”, the others threw up a bit of question. Which when Parko asked, was informed it was “bedroom, hallway, kitchen”.
“Well wouldn’t that be a given?” He responded. “You wouldn’t walk into an apartment that was just three bedrooms with no space between them.”
3. I’ve decided another job I could see myself doing is hotel reviewing. You know, a night or two in each residence before moving onto the next, rating each out of ten for a number of factors such as mattress comfortability, mini bar selection, lounge opportunity and offering of toiletries (honestly, one of my main look-forward-to’s in all hotel stayings is the analysing of the little conditioners, shampoos and vanity kits). And think about the saving on rent! Because obviously I would work up a name for myself that I would be paid big bucks with all expenditure covered by the company. (“Dear whom it may concern at Trip Advisor; my name is Poppy Wortman, and you need me….” Still just working on my selling point).
4. When walking to The Fern Jamie announced a shortcut down a somewhat smoggy, backstreet road, where lots of loitering lads converged around food carts on the corners. We were making jokes and jovials about the nice neighbourhood and what not, when I put on a serious tone and said, “Uncle Jamie; are you about to sell me?”
“You’ll like Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“Can you confirm your blood type again?” Parko asked.
(These boys’ banter together is honestly so funny to witness, I’ve been in convulsions a fair lot of the time).
5. On the walk back from The Fern we were talking about how Jyoti (receptionist girl from our “cocktail party”, remember her?) had never been on a plane, and had only travelled on a four-hour round trip to two different cities from her Jaipurian home. “Well that’s the thing here isn’t it?” Parko said. “A lot of these people just exist really.”
It really got me pondering. I mean, in the case of Jyoti it’s a little bit different as she holds what is seen as a higher job and what not, but for many of those in India they do just exist. They don’t really live. Because the option isn’t open to them.
Life is a lot cheaper here. Not just in an economic sense, but the value of life itself as well. In Delhi alone there are 22million people; as Jamie said, the 4.693 million population of Auckland is a mere Delhi suburb size.
I don’t exactly know why, but that realisation struck me as quite poignant.
6. I don’t think the staff at the Jaipur hotel believed Jamie and I were uncle and niece. As they had met his wife Jess two weeks beforehand, they probably thought it was a cover story to smuggle in a seductress (if you could describe the girl in hiking boots, oversized harem pants and holding multiple bejewelled bags that).
I say this because I was suffice to a few “knowing” looks as I surfaced in the mornings, and upon re-rooming after housekeeping had been finding the duvet pulled back on both sides.
Quite hilarious really.
And now Jamie and I are parked up in a somewhat exquisite hotel back in Delhi. I’ve said goodbye to my rollaway bed, as here we have two twin queens side by side (well, with a side table in between). (Duvet pulled back on one side of each; clearly, they believed the uncle-niece situation).
The next three days are going to have me editing and writing a lot more SGG (currently in good stead, feeling happy with the progress) and continuing as I have the last few days in complete contentment. Cousin Sarah arrives on Wednesday, where we will spend the following five days going and seeing stuff before we nosy out to Nepal.
I’m sorry, but how glorious is my current life living? I am so damn lucky.
And sorry, just an added insertation: how weird was Jamie’s lunch on the plane? These Indian airlines are known for their lunchbox-like sandwiches (I.e., crusts cut off, in gladwrap, So on) but his today (cheeseslice between) had its bread a merging of both brown and white. I mean, both brown and white in a single slice! Mind blowing stuff mate.