In recent weeks, at the Khanna family breakfast table, we have increasingly been discussing the desirability of breaking our house down and rebuilding it.
This is actually something we have been doing for the past ten years. It happens in cycles. Every now and then, we go through the summer exasperated at how much we’re spending on water; or through the monsoon exasperated at how much our pipes leak, or through the winter moaning about the lack of insulation or central heating. (The last, admittedly, is more a point of exasperation for me than for the rest of the family.) We resolve to knock the damn pile over and rebuild it from scratch in a way that will stop all our whining. Then one of two things happens.
Either we fall into a financial crisis as a family and shelve the idea of reconstruction for better days, or we call the architects with great enthusiasm. And once the architects are there to discuss what it is we want, we fight bitterly in front of the architects about what it is that we want, accuse each other of not listening, being idiots, or making preposterous demands, and generally leaving the architects gaping in amazement. Then we sulk, and drop the plan. Until the next time.
For despite this track record, we always come back to this idea. Particularly in the last few weeks, as I was saying. As a result of the enthusiasm for reconstruction waxing, my father was telling me and my brother at the breakfast table that there was a new advantage to staying in our current location (Safdarjung Enclave, that is) instead of moving out to rented accomodation elsewhere – that is, under Delhi’s new rules for admission to primary schools, our kids would have a super advantage in getting into DPS RK Puram, which came within the eight kilometre limit.
Unfortunately, as my brother pointed out, my father was mildly wrong in the details. DPS RK Puram does not have a primary school, only middle and senior schools. From nursery to Class V, a DPS student goes to either DPS Vasant Vihar or DPS East of Kailash.
Fortunately, Vasant Vihar manages to be within even the original six kilometre limit, but East of Kailash is a little iffy – Google Maps claims you can get there with a 7.9 Km route, but if you take outer ring road it’s ten kilometres. That makes me wonder how the eight kilometres are calculated, anyway. Is it by taking a compass and drawing a circle around the school, or by measuring driving distance?
It also made me think, at first, that rents in areas which were within six to eight kilometres of of multiple good schools would probably skyrocket. This is really bad news for anybody thinking of renting a flat in places like Safdarjung Enclave, or Green Park, or or such like.
I then also wondered how long residence actually had to last in such places. If all you had to do was be a resident for the duration of the kindergarten year, Safdarjung Enclave might turn into a vast neighbourhood of transient renters with five year olds, all moving in a month before school admission began, and then moving out a year later once their child got into Class 1, making way for a new round of families. For a while, my imagination turned to Vasant Vihar landlords evicting expats and diplomats, and rebuilding their homes as dharamshalas to house as many families with children, in as small a space, as possible.
Pleasing as that image was, I finally realised that this is India, and that nobody will bother with an actual change of residence, when all they have to do is somehow jugaad a proof of residence.
I predict Green Park and Vasant Vihar landlords will now start charging the posh buggers who live in Chhatarpur and Sainijk Farms a small fee to issue a rent agreement for the duration of such time as it takes to get an electricity bill or bank statement or suchlike and establish that they live in a place surrounded by good schools, while they actually go on living in their secluded mansions and sending the kids to school with a car and driver.
I will leave it to the reader to decide whether the best way to deal with this is strong regulations or a dharna by the Chief Minister.