My previous house-owner got into Time Magazine’s list of 100 people who shape the world! He’s been doing great work in micro-financing, making venture capital available to more of the 800 million people in rural India. He’s a true visionary, making a difference in the lives of people who live way below the poverty line.
But this post is not about his achievements…its actually about my experience in dealing with the only human being I’ve ever personally known, who got his name printed in Time magazine. When we rented his Hyderabad house, he used to live in Chicago. The house was in complete mess…his family here was in charge, and they couldn’t hand over the keys till the 23rd of the month even though we started paying rent from the 1st. When we wrote to him, about a refund or a rent adjustment, all we got was radio silence! Anyway, we did move in, and after some time a woman called us up, introduced herself as a cousin of the house-owner and told us that she’d be in charge while he’s away. Fine!!
A year and few months went by. In the mean time the electricity meter blew up, the man-hole covers got stolen, snakes and stray dogs kept coming inside through the gaps in the main gate, a septic tank pipe burst, the light fixtures inside the house kept blowing up one after another, ants ate up the exterior light wiring, the bore-well conked off at the on-set of summer, monsoon left huge damp patches all over the wall and rain-water seeped in through leaky windows and flooded my living room! Some stuff got fixed, some didn’t, some I paid for because I was living there! Then one day he came to visit us; seemed like a nice guy; gushed about how beautifully we kept his house, blah blah blah, told us about his divorce, his son, his alimony program and lot of other things about his personal life that we didn’t really want to know! But over all the experience wasn’t unpleasant.
Another six months went by. He came to visit us again…this time, he wanted to know how long we were planning to stay in his house…the lease was to expire in three months’ time. We told him that we were planning to move out at the end of the lease period. He expressed interest in staying in the house…his dream home, which he never got to enjoy! In the same breath he also added that we could stay on as long as we liked if we paid him the “market rate” which, according to him, was nearly 70% more than what we were paying him!! When we recovered from the mini heart-attacks this piece of information caused us, we enquired around…and no prizes for guessing that the so called “market-rate” was nothing but a figment of his fertile imagination! We were certain that we would be able to vacate the house by the end of the lease period!
The big move was in the pipeline and no matter how hard we tried, couldn’t wrap up everything within the stipulated time. We needed at least one more month in the house. Mr. Philanthropist immediately turned into Mr. Shylock and demanded his pound of flesh, in this case the exorbitantly inflated rent! We had very little choice but to comply. On the upside, he did buy out all our appliances which we couldn’t move and most of the IKEA furniture that I was dying to get rid of, but he also tried to weasel out a free dinette and an air cooler, which finally went to someone else. We left that house with a bitter taste.
Then came the news of his great achievement. It was in a mail from yet another female cousin of Mr. Philanthropist which was languishing in my Junk Mail box. I send him a congratulatory mail and in reply I got this:
“It would be helpful if you could call the cable operator and indicate that you do not want cable service terminated but instead transferred to the new occupants (me). Otherwise, he is requiring me to pay a new installation amount. I realize that it is a relatively small amount I would save (Rs. 2,500), but would appreciate a call nevertheless.”
Can’t blame the poor guy, he’s involved in micro-finance after all. *Sigh*