Moving Out

(I’m not too sure when this was actually posted, because a bug in my CMS reset the post time to the time of the last comment. I’ve set the post date to 24 March 2003 to keep it in sequence.)

Disaster has befallen. My bua wants us to move to Sainik Farms.

Those of you who were subscribed to the W-Files about eight months ago would remember that I had discussed the terrible shape my current house’s plumbing is in- the pipes leak about 4000 litres of water a day (which fortunately, flows back into the ground- but it’s wastage anyway). I also mentioned that my family was keen to knock down the house, and rebuild it from scratch, and that Ishaan hoped that this task would be performed using vast quantities of high explosive.

What eventually emerged was that the house wouldn’t be knocked down and rebuilt from scratch, but merely have it’s insides knocked out and have the construction redone- no new foundation, or basement, or some such. In the interim period between the good old house and the new improved house, we would have been living in a rented house nearby- an ideal solution, in my opinion.

But, alas, not in my bua’s opinion.

I should mention that since as long as I can remember- and very probably since her early childhood- my bua has been obsessed with having a huge house with a huge garden. While she does not exactly aspire to live in Rashtrapati Bhavan one day- she will settle for nothing less than 2000 square yards. Her proclaimed idea of a good time is to sit in a garden and do nothing. I have some doubts as to the sincerity of this claim. She very rarely sits in a garden and does nothing- what she actually does is go to work early in the morning, come back in the evening and eat, and then watch soap operas on Star Plus while the rest of the family has dinner. But I digress.

Anyway, since reconstructing a house is stressful, and we can’t afford to expand the garden size there, my bua is now interested in moving to Sainik Farms.

Those of you not in Delhi should know a little bit of background about Sainik Farms. It’s a bunch of illegal farmhouses without farms. All these houses are huge, and most have huge gardens. They’re tailormade to my bua’s requirements. Also, since the whole place is unauthorised- the houses were just built without any sort of authorisation- they are cheap. 20 Megarupees for a 2000-2400square yard house built over two floors.

Unfortunately, Sainik Farms isn’t just in the middle of nowhere. It is nowhere.

Sainik Farms is just miles upon miles of huge houses behind ten-foot walls. The walls, by the way, are straight out of Pink Floyd’s The Wall– high, menacing, and forbidding, with shards of broken glass sticking out. The effect of surrounding a huge garden with such walls is to put you in mind of a lunatic asylum- lots of nice open space for the inmates to walk around in, but just you try to get out.

The roads are half-lane lightly tarred dirt tracks. Since it is illegal, there are no electricity or water connections, you have to pump out your own water and dump it back into the ground, and as for electricity, you buy it from a generator pool at almost ten rupees a unit. There are no markets, one can easily get lost on the way to one’s own home, and half the people living there are smugglers.

It’s not that I’m very attached to my current house (I am, but we’ll discuss that later), but I can state with no small amount of emphasis that I do not want to move to Sainik Farms. It takes a minimum of twenty minutes- in a car- just to get from your gate to the main road. By contrast, here at my current home in Safdarjung Enclave, I can be at Ishaan or Rishi’s house in three minutes on foot, the local market in ten minutes, and a bigger market- Green Park- in half an hour- or ten minutes if driving. From my house, I can hear, on a good day, three rock bands practicing in the neighbourhood. If you ever hear anything in Sainik Farms other than the Sounds of Silence, it’s the noise of generator sets. Behind my house, there is a small park where the neighbourhood kids play badminton and goggle at me in stunned stupefecation as I pass them by. As I have already mentioned, in Sainik Farms at least half your neighbours are smugglers who wouldn’t think twice about mowing you down with their Jaguars or BMWs.

And as far as greenery and gardens are concerned- my house is ten minutes away from both Deer Park and Nehru Park- several square kilometres of foliage stretching to the horizon, and you don’t even have to bother about the upkeep- the Municipal Committee does that for you.

Fortunately, my father would rather buy a house in Sainik Farms, if at all, as an intermediary, and move about five years later to some place like Friends Colony. That’s better than Sainik Farms, but even there, in deference to my Bua’s wishes, the house will be on at least one thousand six hundred square yards, with lots of garden.

It seems that I am fated, as I move through life, to move to larger and larger houses, and smaller and smaller communities. At the tender age of two, my nuclear family became a joint family when my parents moved out of Azad Apartments to the family house in Safdarjung Enclave. The resultant deprivation of stimulating people that I faced is the probable reason that my social skills were set back ten years- it was not until as recently as six years ago that I started to look people in the eye when I talked to them.

Now, just when I had adapted to my circumstances, and come up with the brilliantly pro-social concept of the W-Fillets, I am to move to a place where my chances of interaction with other people reduce even further, sacrificed to a garden. Instead of friends and family, I will be surrounded by flowers. When I want stimulating discussion, I will have to hold conversations with vegetables instead of gabbing with iCow until three in the morning. It makes me sick.

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