Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | June 22, 2009

Delhi Devils – II

To my mind, landlords in Delhi behave the way they do for various reasons.

First, it is typical of Delhi not to trust each other. This is for some reason a common tendency and this feeling is more in an environment where there is threat, one can have a terrorist as a tenant!

Secondly, Delhi is a city of bullies and you can sense it on the streets, shops and in daily life almost every day. An unusually ill mannered city that Delhi is recognizes what they call the street smarts. The street smart is the one who can abuse the other first after committing a mistake. Street smart is the one who can make an extra buck after cheating the other.

Thirdly, the oft-repeated theory of Delhi’s climate makes people unusually aggressive and loud perhaps hold true too. Delhi’s history show it was never a city which belonged to a certain section of people. It is a conglomeration of various cultures and has this weird culture of its own.

I know the reasons would not please the die-hard Delhi residents but then my experience has made me make these conclusions. I am perhaps to weak, silly to enjoy the gaudy, aggressive and loud Delhi life.

Landlord 4

Now, lets come back to Landlord 4. This was not the best house that we stayed in but it certainly had more space than the previous one. It was suited for the newly wed and despite not having enough windows we chose to stay. The landlord was an old Kashmiri Pundit who stayed with a huge family in the first and second floor of the house. There was a dog and a male child servant too who were part of his household.

Once we moved in the child servant started getting a bit friendly with us. He was the one who complained to us that how much he rued his fate to have been staying in this household. We felt sad considering the kid was young. He told us that how the landlord ensures that we get little water (by controlling the water supply) and how he has passed the burden of some of his own electricity and water bill onto us. We had little choice in doing anything about it. Sometimes we protested but we did not want to get into a fight because his nature (and also reputation among the locals) were enough to make us believe that we may lose those fights. Mind you, the landlord did not look scary at all. He was an old man who was tremendously sarcastic and ran an auto component store somewhere in Delhi. However, the way he shouted sometimes never gave us the feeling that we could have won against him.

Intimidation is an art that residents of Delhi know very well.

One fine day the kid servant was gone and we thought we might ask the landlord what happened. The landlord narrated the story to us and trust me we were scared.

I have heard only his version of the story so I would post that here.

He said that the kid had gone mad. One day when he asked the kid to serve some tea, he could not find him anywhere. After some search he found that kid was hiding under the bed. He asked the kid to come out. Finally, after many requests (!), the kid did come out and ran towards the roof. The kid climbed the overhead water tank and threatened to commit suicide if he is not sent back home to Nepal. The landlord was scared and wise (according to him), so he pursued the kid further and once he came down from the water tank, he was taken to a nearby police station. The police people kept the kid for a night, instructed the landlord to call up the kid’s family.

The kid was gone then. The landlord abused the kid while telling the story to us and we continued wondering what made the kid take up this extreme step.

The landlord was nasty towards his dog too. I have never heard a dog shout so badly. In fact in Delhi, people have a tremendous fascination towards pet dogs and I was surprised to hear this particular pet dog shout so badly occasionally. Once I asked the landlord what is the matter with the dog? To which he replied, sometimes he needs to teach a lesson to the dog so that he performs his duty to guard the house properly. Apparently the dog revolted too but the revolt was not successful. I hoped the dog was successful.

You can imagine by now what kind of trouble the landlord caused us. The trouble was mostly related to the water supply that he controlled. Whenever we complained he had his rude answers ready.

We were tired of his eccentricities every day. It felt as if when he has nothing to do, he would come down on a weekend and irritate us. Either he would complain to us about how we live or he would ask us to make tea for him. To be honest life was disgusting and was slowly turning out to be without water.

Finally, when we decided enough was enough and we should leave, he had problems with that too. He and his largely built son came down to actually have a fight (not arguments!) with us saying we would only be allowed to leave this house only when they get another tenant. We were terrified and were forced to settle the matter by paying him some money, which he claimed were his dues since we broke some contract.

I know I should have fought rather than give the money, but if I would have fought that day, I am sure I would have injured myself very badly.

As far as local police was concerned, they did not want to annoy him because he was the general secretary of the residents’ welfare society there.

What a big joke but that is India for you.

Landlord 5

He was the best of the lot and he stayed far away from the apartment that we rented. That was the best place we stayed in Delhi. Yes, he did not create much trouble for us though we paid an exorbitant amount of rent in order to buy that peace.

The day we were to vacate the house and leave for Kolkata (and eventually NZ), he and his wife came very early in the morning and literally forced us out of the house. When we were donating some additional stuff we had to the street children, the poor old night-guard, then even shamelessly asked us whether we have anything to donate to them. Weird that they could do that, because they have three houses in Delhi, their children stay abroad and every year without fail they make a foreign pleasure trip.

We could not have lunch in the house that day because they kept on sitting inside from early morning without allowing us a single moment of privacy. We reached airport very early and happily left for Kolkata.

I just realized that living in Delhi could be really miserable. More than the house I believe one should pray one has a decent landlord.

Again I repeat the tip – in Delhi always look for a house whose owner lives far away.

————

I have always reckoned that Amul advertisement campaigns were the series of best advertisements that India had ever produced. For those who don’t know, Amul is a butter manufactured and marketed by Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, which has an unique history in itself.

Amul’s advertisement campaigns were always interesting. The hoardings and the slogans were not only imaginative but they captured the latest cultural and political developments in India (and sometimes outside India). In fact, Amul hoardings have sometimes reflected current affairs in the most creative way.

I still remember while I used to go school in Kolkata, the bus used to pass the Horticultural Garden in Kolkata. There was a hoarding where Amul advertisements were put up.

I read this article on Amul advertisements recently and it seemed that I took the trip on a school bus just yesterday.

Here are the Amul advertisements for you to have a look.

Look back at some of the interesting ones, and you may like them. Most of the slogans have the context mentioned under them.

I hope Amul continues to grow like this.

————-

Further, came to know that the nice name for the Bengali Monkey cap is Balaclava and though I assumed that it was invented by Bengalis but no the Ukrainians invented it. No wonder we have such love for erstwhile Soviet countries.

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