765   06/06/2016

Bombay Diaries

My home has not changed. Same old building that were built after Second World War line the old street where my mom lives. My grandfather bought this apartment for Rs. 20,000/- and now its over a million dollars! Whew!!!

It’s a house I grew up in - where I read my first book, learnt to cook, played cards with my friends, laughed with my family and created lasting friendships. It’s the only place I know where people wave out to me as I step out.  The layout of the home is much different now. My mom and sister live with an old dog in a apartment overlooking a run down garden. It’s a simple life. No complications. It’s a family home where memories are imprinted in the walls.  A mere view outside the window invokes barrage of memories. It used to be my home 30 years ago. Now I am visiting. Things have changed and how!

I have a love hate relationship with Bombay. It gave me everything and took away everything. There have been far too many losses and somewhere in my heart I have not forgiven this city. I visit every few years for a week and by the end of the trip it brings me to my knees. Nothing has changed. But some people I love dearly live here and so I must embrace my bitterness and sugarcoat it with a dose of old fashioned love.

My sister prepares me for the next few days. Selling a house is more difficult than climbing Mount Everest, she warns me. She has done all the paperwork and we must now finish the signing and transfer in next few days that I am there. I am thinking how difficult can this be? If only I knew………..

What follows are the most bizarre events and all I can do is laugh. The buyer is a cousin of Sherlock Holmes who thinks that I am a fake owner and she must check even my birth certificate! Every step of the way she is suspicious of everything – she is under the impression that a giant conspiracy is being woven around her so she can drown!

The registration office where transfer takes place is from another planet. There are stacks of papers from floor to ceiling in a run down building where there is no place to sit and the stench is stifling. We all huddle in one corner like refugees and wait for our turn. Official papers are handed over to government clerks whose egos are more inflated than the recession in Greece. After hours of waiting for our turn, the final signing happens in front of a chief registrar who is wearing a pink sari and has flowers in her hair. She looks at my papers and smiles, “Oh from Dubai! Very good very good. Lots of money and gold there…ha ha ha!”

I don’t know how to respond to that. So I smile and tell her, “ yes lots of money on tress in my garden and we pluck everyday!” She is stunned. Looks at me sharply and then signs off.

We now head to the government bank to finalise the fund transfer. The buyer springs into the detective mode again and starts questioning if the signing was indeed done and if we are not out to loot her. I think by this point the agent has had enough of the investigation and I can hear his voice loud towering over the buyers. She calms down a bit and then starts off again. By this point I could have killed her. After waiting and pacing for hours the funds are transferred and I am told I can finally leave.

The ride back home we need to prepare paperwork for my bank and initiate fund transfer. Minutes turn into hours and we are awake till late sorting mountains of paperwork. I collapse into bed at midnight wondering if its all worth it.

I remember what my better half says about India – “Everything takes time here. You can't escape paperwork. A lawyer formed your constitution.”

I think he might be right after all!





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Comments (1)

Tee Cee - 1015 days ago

Excellent narrative of our current times. Sensed your churn.


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