THE LAST LAUGH
The pattern of the bell indicated some impatient individual at the door. Through the keyhole I saw Mr.Sen. My day was over, I thought. For he was a Fevicol on legs. To dislodge him once he sat someplace was a challenge. He could talk on, cursing and criticizing everything. And he was a confused man. He was due for retirement and the departmental colleagues, I was sure, would be relieved. So I opened the door with a resigned feel. Senbabu slunk in clutching a collection of brochures and plonked into a sofa. “Sir”, he said “You are from the construction field. So I thought I must take some advice from you. Well you know that I am due to retire and need a place to stay. Me and my wife. A two room set would suffice. So I was l going through some flats on offer.” He paused and proceeded to spread out the brochures all over the centre table.”This is North Breeze, this one Flamingo and this, by Shetty’s is The Solarino. All designed by Singapore architects, good landscapes, clubs, Gym what not?”. “So, where is the problem?”, I said, “go ahead”.”Arey Sir, there lies the problem. I saw in the advertisement that the average cost is 30 lacs which was suiting my budget. So me and my wife went to the area last week. But when we discussed we found the cost came to 43 lacs. The basic was 30 lacs .Then they added all facilities, maintenance for 10 years, backup charges and what not”. He sounded exasperated so I called my wife over for a cup of tea.”Tell me the details, “I said.”Well, it is like this. I got real confused. There are areas abound. Plinth area, covered area, super area, compounded area and carpet area. Just imagine, five types of areas for a simple flat. And then they say that the offer can be made on any type of area so that the amount remains same. If the flat faces the park, the flat becomes preferentially located and so one has to pay more. It is the same story for all sides, only the names are different. Road facing, gym facing, sun facing, moon facing that is no face is left. So I have to pay extra. Then, for the lower flats you need to pay extra when the lift cost is being shared by all. Kuch samjha nahi.” He seemed perplexed. “Senbabu, you are unnecessarily stressing yourself. These are sales jargon. What you need to see is whether the flat suits your requirement or not, whether the materials used are good, whether the water supply is adequate and the location”, I said. “But you see ,the house has to be be affordable too. I do not understand why you need foreign experts for design and landscaping etc. when you have so much talent around here. That is an extra expenditure heaped on the buyers. The land cost is uniform on all faces, so why they charge more on that account?. What if I do not want to join club? There is no option for not having modular kitchen-our karahi and dekhchis are not compatible to that. All these should be thought of to make a flat affordable. Senior citizens should be given preference at the same rates for lower floors. Arey bhai have some thoughts for them too.”He stopped briefly for a sip. He was right, I mused. The affordability gap can be surely be minimised with a thoughtful consideration to sell off the huge inventory lying across the country. My reverie was cut short. Sen babu proceeded with his case.” They said it was a Green building so the cost is higher. But I found the building was colored Off white and mushroom-not Green. On query, I was told it is called green for being environmental friendly. Is it correct?”.”Yes,” I said, “and the builder gets some reliefs too.” Senbabu jumped at this.”Exactly, that is why I said why the benefits are not coming to the buyers. To add to the misery there is the tax.” I tried to reason, “Senbabu, there is RERA now. The sales would be made on carpet area only so you need not worry”.” Oh, so I do not have to pay for toilet, kitchen and balcony areas? after all who would keep a carpet in those areas?”. I was stumped. “See Sir, these flats do not have GAO areas too like we have in our govt. flats.”He said. “And what on earth is that? I have never heard of that.” I exclaimed. “Grab and Own area.” He said with a smug smile. We ruffled through some brochures but it all sounded same as if drafted by a common agency. All added up to a sum much higher than the cost mentioned in the advertisements. Then Senbabu blurted “They all want us to buy an Elephant for pomp and then look out for it’s feed all the time. I have other ideas”. He rose up taking a deep breath and picked up the brochures deflated like General Niazi after surrender. Seeing him off near the door,I asked him about his other idea.” I would put the money in a proper deposit scheme and take a flat on rent out of the interest.” He smiled broadly, content with his idea and I smiled back too. Not a bad idea, I thought, like the olden days.
That is the irony. So much of inventory lying unsold- just for few corrections. Hope some prudence would prevail and the ventilator would be taken off the industry.