Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Great Apartment Search Saga

I have been horribly lax with updates of late. I could use work, business trips, or slow internet as excuses, but really I’ve just been genuinely busy. Which, mind you, is a huge improvement from my life in Kenya. So in the future you can consider a lack of communication as a positive indication of my quality of life… or something like that.

One of many important updates is that I finally, after 4 weeks of searching, two realtors, countless landlords and a week of negotiations, have moved into an apartment! Pictures of the place the first time I went to see it are below. It’s not much better furnished now, but I do have a bed and curtains (each of which was a full day effort – things take time here).

Front door & entrance hallway

Massive living room and my room

Bathroom, enclosed porch & kitchen

Finding this place was no easy task. After years of being considered the ideal tenant profile (young single female professional), I was dismayed to discover that these qualifications did not make me attractive to landlords here. In fact, being single, female, and foreign is pretty much a recipe for disaster in the Chennai real estate market. Traits like “non-vegetarian” and “non-Brahmin” are dealbreakers. Add to that "has a dog" and "allows male visitors in the home" and the pickings get very slim very fast.

However, with a lot of legwork, some help from my fabulous realtor (who happens to be a good friend of my new roommates) a good helping of luck, I found this place on the 2nd floor of a quaint old apartment building. It's got a ton of space and is down a quiet, tree-filled road about a 20 minute walk from my office. There are 3 bedrooms and we're still searching for a roommate to occupy the third room, but my colleague is staying there for the next month so we have a short buffer. The best part is it's a great place for my dog - who is arriving in a week and a half!

My new roommates (two girls from Kerala, southwestern India, sharing the master bedroom) are Elizabeth, a journalist for the India Express, and Shiney, who is interning to become an accountant. Most likely, a French girl named Marjorie who is interning with an oil society will be taking the third room for the next 6 months. Look at us, so multicultural! (Multiculturalism is a theme here - it's rare that I find myself in a group of people that does not include 3 or more nationalities. There's even a Kenyan girl interning with our centre, so I get my Swahili fix.)

So, I'm officially a resident of India!

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