I was looking for taking a flat on rent in Mylapore, Mandaveli, R.A. Puram or Adayar in Chennai about two months back. I went through the classifieds columns of neighborhood newspapers.
I shortlisted 5-6 ads and started calling the landlords. The queries of all the landlords were typical. Just listen to a conversation with the first landlord.
“Sir, I saw your ad in …….Can you tell me something about your flat?
“Two bedroom, hall, kitchen flat…about 1100 sq ft. Covered car park….Modular kitchen, complete wood work in both the bedrooms….”
“That’s good. What is the rent?”
“What is your budget?”
After a couple of hide and seek questions, he mentioned the rent and advance. Then…
“How big is your family?”
Perhaps he does not like too big a family. “We are four.”
“Your parents are with you?”
“No. My wife and two sons…”
He sounded satisfied. Perhaps he does not want old people. “How old are your sons?”
May be, he is not happy with infants or too small children.”Elder son is 21 years and is planning to write CAT. Younger one is 15 years old.”
“Is your wife working?”
‘How does it matter?’ I thought.
He explained. “Working women generally do not maintain their house properly. I don’t want my flat to be spoilt.”
Strange logic! Anyway my wife is a housewife and I pass this test.
“Are you a Brahmin?”
What? I did not understand the relevance of the question.
He repeated “Are you a Brahmin?”
“Yes.” But how does it matter?
I called the next landlord. Same sequence of questions till whether I am a Brahmin.
For a change I said “No. Are you a Brahmin?”
“No. But at least are you a vegetarian?”
Again for a change, I said “No”
My next call was answered by a broker, a guy called Stephen.
When he asked whether I was a Brahmin or at least a vegetarian, I retorted “How does it matter?”
“No one wants nonsense or nuisance.”
“What nonsense? What nuisance?”
“You know, sir.” He did not want to elaborate.
The fourth landlord was forthright.”When I want the tenant to vacate, a Brahmin accepts without a word. It’s a scared race. I raise the rent after a year. He meekly accepts. He keeps the house neat and clean.”
Why a vegetarian?
“Brahmins are generally vegetarians. Even otherwise vegetarians are better. Non vegetarians spoil the kitchen. They eat everywhere except the dining table. Dinner plates remain in the bedroom unwashed throughout night. Stench.”
“How do you know?”
“It happens in my house. I don’t want the same in my flat.”
My cousin who lives in KK Nagar said he also faced similar questions when he was looking for a flat.
At this point I wrote my conclusion. I showed it to my friend. After reading the article, he drew a conclusion exactly opposite to mine! And it was equally logical! A second friend brought out a point which both of us had missed out.
I deleted my conclusion. I decided to leave it to the readers.
There is more than one lesson. It depends on the way one looks at it.
How do you look at this?
PS: As I was posting this, I got a call from Arumugam, the caretaker of my flat in Coimbatore. I had requested him to look for a tenant. “Sir, shall I look for Brahmins? Or at least vegetarians?”