Tantanoo goes house-hunting in Chennai – Part 2

Dear friends, readers and that occasional Renuka Shahane admirer,  welcome to the second edition of ‘Tantanoo goes house-hunting in Chennai’.

In the last episode, you read about my adventures with Sulekha.

This episode begins with a riddle: duraipakamoppAKDRtowergrndflorfivehundredmfromOMR

This was one of the clues on the Amazing Race – Shollinganallur Edition and as you might have guessed, it translates to “Thoraipakkam, Opposite AKDR Tower, Ground Floor, Five hundred meters from Old Mahabalipuram Road” (I think). With advertisements like these, I had almost given up on the interwebz. I had also never imagined that bachelorhood was going to be such a big hurdle in such an insignificant test in life. So I decided to give up on bachelorhood too.



During this time, I also contacted someone called Mr. Money. I sent a senti text message to him wondering if he’d consider bachelors for his house. Mr. Money wrote an elaborate response to my emotional message – ‘NO’.

Anyway, how often do you get a chance to meet someone called Money?

We were in constant touch with brokers who showed us 37 apartments all near Indira Nagar Water Tank. One of them was in a locality that’ll feature in Slumdog Millionaire’s sequel. Then we saw another one, that was actually in a decent place but the owners had an overnight change of heart and informed us the next day that they probably won’t let it out to bachelors. Then we saw a few apartments in a neighbourhood that’s the underbelly of the RO Water syndicate that converts corporation water into bullion(a RO water distributor once offered a friend of mine a job supplying water cans that paid more than his software-job salary but that’s for another day). The cherry on the cake was this apartment in the same area that had a different color on each wall. So one wall was pink, the next one yellow and the one right next to it was green. There was a brown wall in there somewhere as well. It had two beds, both from different parts of India.


(Hope was running as thin as Keira Knightly)

I had some help though. A friend from twitter(and Facebook) who wishes to stay anonymous, sent me a message that read as if it has come from ISI:

Agent – 990031231231231

Agent 2 – 99812621231212

Agent 3 – 89213127124213

Agent Alwarpet – 9921312731273

Agent Anand – 993298423423

Agent Gopalapuram – 98234823423424

Agent Jinnah Bhai – 983242342342

Agent Mohan – 993298423423

Agent Munish – 9921312731273

Agent Pugazh – 993298423423

Agent Senthil – 9921312731273

Agent Thomas – 993298423423

Agent Tony – 9921312731273

Agent Vinayagham – 993298423423

Jinnah and Anand are recommended.

The only thing missing in that message was an Agent Vinod.

The craiglist person from the previous episode responded, btw:

I had a few questions:

a) Who will be signing the agreement? One person or all of you? What happens is one person leaves the group?

d) Who will take responsibility for upkeep of the house?

c) Nowadays the security conditions are very stringent. Are you willing to sign the police form with photo etc?

These are some of the questions I had. I have nothing against bachelors but due to illegal activities there are a lot of security considerations.

I actually wanted to meet this guy and answer all his questions while trying to keep a straight face but then a friend’s boss’s boss contacted us and we learned that his house is emptay!




So, come October, I’ll be living in this house that’s both in Chennai and not in Chennai(it’s behind the DLF IT Park, I have my doubts). It’s the Schrodinger’s cat of houses.

and I hate it.

I hate change.

I hate it more than I hate Youtube ads. Most of all, I hate the idea of not living in this apartment anymore. This house has been some semblance of a home in Chennai. Once upon a time when I was struggling in a PG accomodation with water so hard, it turned my ass into pumice stone, I chanced upon the ad for this house. We fought with the PG guy, lost a bit of money and moved into this apartment. It was a fully-serviced apartment with multiple geysers and multiple bais. I could see my office from the balcony along with some pretty women and balding uncles in veshtis gathering for evening adda. We didn’t pay any safety deposit and my roommates were awesome. There was a basketball hoop, two TT tables and a Japanese restaurant. There was a driveway and a banyan tree. There were pigeons – having sex, infiltrating the kitchen, playing antakshari early in the morning and most importantly – shitting on the AC. There were card games that lasted all night and then people went to office and ran the same script multiple times on a production server and almost got fired. There were marathon chai sessions followed by carrom sessions followed by more chai. There were girls living in the apartment across the floor. There was a wi-fi connection that was named after their flat. There were jamming sessions with lyrics on a Macbook and chords on an iPhone.

It will be tough leaving all this behind(and traveling 13 kilometers a day to bitch about OpenOffice). But now I live with people with hairy chests who refuse to wear t-shirts.  People who watch Life OK for hours while nibbling on a Snickers bar and would bicker over 30 bucks. People who’ve abused the fridge so much, it sometimes weeps at night. People who I feel should be castrated so they don’t produce more of their kind(yeah, I hate them THAT much).

So for the greater good of mankind(and for the greater good of my blood pressure), I’ll be moving to a new address, a new home. It’s a blank canvas and I’ll get to color it as I want. If all is well, I’ll probably have @prdyt as a neighbour and we’ll form a coalition and bring Twitter down. There’ll be more stories, more lafda to blog about.

and there’ll always be pigeons.


Tantanoo goes house-hunting in Chennai

The last few weeks have been, to say the least, abysmal. I survived a train accident. I lost my Lava phone and two sim cards. My bank balance and Vatican City’s population are #samething now. I hardly read any book and am ridiculously behind on my reading challenge. My to-do list is longer than all the dossiers we’ve sent to Pakistan combined.

In other words, I’ve been knee-deep in shit.

And then, we got an eviction notice.


I returned from work one night to find a piece of paper that said that we are supposed to leave our house and look for a new accommodation. The only thing that notice was missing was an ‘Or Else’ at the end. We had 15 days to find a new place. We now have a month’s time to find a new place(after bargaining with the bastards) but this house hunt is proving to be an Abhimanyu-leaving-Chakravyuh-level difficult task.

I’ve lived in this house for over an year and a half now and even though we pay enough rent to buy a little oil well in the Middle East, it is what I’ve call Home. Not anymore.

So began the house-hunting process which I shall document here.

Like any self-respecting software engineer, the first thing I tried was The first time I went there, it took me to the US edition. Thanks to it, I now have conclusive proof that Bangalore is actually a foreign country.


(America can’t blame Bangalore for outsourcing anymore)


Even when I went to the Indian edition of Sulekha, it refused to accept that I am in Chennai.




After much convincing, Sulekha finally decided to let me search for advertisements in Chennai. We were basically looking for a flat in any area that’s either near Tidel Park(my office) or near the DLF IT Park(room-mate’s office). That’s almost a third of Chennai, I think. And boy did we get some awesome advertisements.

“Wooden Wardrobes are in both the bedrooms. Parking available in the compound. The wonderful owner stays in Santhome.”

“Furnished individual house with covered car park, separate three phase electricity, copious soft water for rent”

and then there were the occasional ads for Lady bachelors that kept us amused. Anyway, we got a few numbers and rang them. Sample one of the responses:

Me: Hello


Me: Sir, I noticed your ad on for a 2BHK house.


Me: that’s ok sir but..


Me: OK sir, but…



Him: Oh bachelorsaa? Sorry, we don’t entertain bachelors.

*disconnects the call*

or this:

Room-mate: Hello, ma’am, I called regarding the 1BHK house in Ramapuram, I saw the ad on

Her: Okay, you want for a family?

Room-mate: No ma’am, we are bachelors.

Her: Oh, we don’t want to give a house to bachelors, are you from North India?

Room-mate: Yes ma’am, I am from Bhopal, thanks for.. (he’s about to disconnect the call)

Her: You see, if we keep north indian chaps we need to go to the police station and give information

Her: and it is a lot of trouble.. so you see, we don’t like to give our house to bachelors

Room-mate: Okay ma’am (about to disconnect again)

Her: So don’t mind, ok? If you are family, let me know, we’ll consider.



So if you are a broke North-Indian bachelor in Chennai, God help you in your quest to find a decent house. If you are a non-vegetarian, then add another ‘Fuck you’ to your quest, BAD BAD NON-VEGETARIAN, NO HOUSE FOR YOU.

and then there was an ad that came with strict piracy laws:




After a few more fully ‘furniched’ houses, our mail boxes looked like this:




Then we turned to newspapers, with almost similar results. One uncle showed us a 19th century flat that had a split a/c but windows that won’t shut. There was one guy who wanted three years rent in advance. We also paid the Chennai Craigslist a visit – where we found a guy who wanted to have sex on a train and offered a train ticket to any girl who was interested and a couple looking for an intellect threesome partner.

We are also in touch with brokers who take a month’s rent in advance. It is like a 50% sale, you want to look for a house with cheaper rent so you don’t have to pay the broker more. That is also why they call them Brokers, once you deal with them, you’ll be broke.

This one broker took us to a shady 1 bedroom terrace-based apartment in a shady building in Guindy which belonged to a politician. The room had an a/c, shady lighting and a mirrored wall next to a double bed. I bet it features in a few MMSes.

To cut a sad story short, we haven’t found a home yet and are still looking for a decent place to live.

If you have a place in Chennai where two bachelors from North India who are not criminals and can behave themselves on weekdays can live, please drop in a word. (I’d really love a house with a balcony from where I could see this bumbling city and curse all those Sulekha ad wallahs into oblivion).

(To be continued)


Some handy tips if you are house-hunting in Chennai:

  • CCP: It stands for Covered Car Parking and is something that you won’t be using but will be charged for anyway.
  • 1RK: 1 Room Kitchen.
  • If you are looking for a place near the Ramapuram area, be prepared for a lot of false alarms. 90% advertisements for the Ramapuram area are actually for areas apart from Ramapuram like Nesapakkam, Mowglivakkam(that’s what it sounded like on the calls) and many such nested pakkams and vakkams.
  • Check what kind of two-wheeler your broker has. I had to make rounds of Adyar on a Luna.
  • If you are looking at ads from Bharatrentals or Clickrentals, be prepared to buy a time-machine cause people stopped using them last year.

Tantanoo goes to T-Nagar

I’ve been in Chennai for 3/4th of a year now and every weekend I discover something new about this city. Last weekend I discovered a continent hidden in Chennai.

Last weekend, I went to T-Nagar.


If you have dismissed T-Nagar as just-another-Nagar in Chennai, like say Ashok Nagar or Srinagar, I beg you to reconsider. T-Nagar isn’t an ordinary Nagar. It also doesn’t refer to Transport Nagar  – that excuse of a place that almost every North-Indian city boasts of, with an environment that is hostile enough to give Asthama to Optimus Prime. Neither does it refer to T Rajendar Nagar. The superhero-in-disguise has a t-shirt, a tumblog and a few songs in his name but he still has a long way to go before they name a Nagar after him.

Infact, T-Nagar is not a Nagar. It is a Continent. The Math is simple. Australia(or Oceania) has roughly 35 Million people. T-Nagar on a weekend around Deepavali has close to 2 Million people. It is a small continent in itself. Like every continent, it has its natural resources. In case of T-Nagar, those are Silk and Gold. It is said that every third Silk worm in the world has contributed to a saree found in T-Nagar.

I visited T-Nagar with a couple of friends. We all had received instructions to buy South Silk Sarees for our mothers to add to the ‘Mera-beta-laya-hai-South-se’ part of their wardrobes. A part of me wanted to take some Silk Smitha DVDs home and tell mom that I’ve brought ‘South Silk’. Now, when I look at my bank balance, I feel I should have stuck to that plan.

I went to T-Nagar in an Autorickshaw(not because I am a pricey snob but because my Saturday-Special-Saira-Bano-Bath took a major chunk of my time). The moment my autowallah slowed down near T-Nagar, my spider-sense spun into action. I asked the driver if we have reached T-Nagar. My landing point was supposed to be Pothys and I couldn’t see any shop with that name around. My driver gave me a it-will-make-sense-later smile and pointed towards a road. That was the first clue. Even autowallahs are scared of T-Nagar.

Putting all fears aside, I took a sharp right and after banging sharply into three people  got my first real view of T-Nagar. It was breathtaking and unable-to-take-a-breath at the same time.

It is rumored that Robert Brown discovered ‘Brownian Motion’ after visiting T-Nagar in 1826.


In T-Nagar, everyone is headed somewhere. There is no ‘wrong-side’ as far as traffic is concerned. If you see an auto-rickshaw or a woman with 3 tonnes of sarees rushing in your direction, you have to get out of the way by getting in someone else’s way. If you are a male, you must not stop and wonder about the sex-ratio or how your kind got horribly outnumbered. You must always be on your toes(partly because there is only enough space on the road for your toes). You must keep a track of the woman you are with(because single men seldom land in T-Nagar unless they are cops or thieves). Before holding the hand of your friend/girlfriend/kid/wife in T-Nagar, verify that they belong to you. A woman apparently tried to take me home with her. I’d have played along but I had a deadline and some shopping to do. You must not apologize in T-Nagar, if you step on someone’s feet. People bump into each other in T-Nagar, all the time, like excited atoms. Also, never play the ‘Can-You-See-Me?’ game in T-Nagar unless you have 6/6 vision or a pair of army binoculars or your companion is on an elevated platform(the stairs of Nalli for example).

To cross a road in T-Nagar, follow these simple steps:

1. Look Left

2. Look Right

3. Say your prayers, call your family one last time and dive into the oncoming flood of automobiles and humans, while frantically repeating Steps 1 and 2

4. If you reach the other side of the road, thank god(or Gods depending on how many divine entities your religion affords) and proceed

Alternatively you can try the ‘Dadar-local-station’ way. The ‘Dadar-local-station’ way is an indigenous method to get from point A to point B in the fastest time with the least effort. Only problem being, it can be applied in very select situations, where there is a tide of humans ready to drown you. The first step of the ‘Dadar local station way’ is to stand in the center of a huge crowd. The second step is to wait for the crowd to move and take you with it. The third step is to perform some minor maneuvers to align yourself with your destination while utilizing the crowd’s kinetic energy and save your potential energy. In a matter of seconds that will feel like a smelly eternity, you’d have appeared on the other side of the road, possibly unharmed.

Once inside a saree shop, your unassuming lady companion transforms into a portable mannequin trying one saree after another. Be prepared. Carry some puzzle book or Sudoku book with you. Alternatively carry a copy of ‘2 States’ with you to prevent conversation of any sort with strangers. Practice the ‘Yes honey, it’s beautiful’ nod at home. That comes in handy. Once in a while utter something like a ‘Naah’ or ‘Umm’ just to bring some variation in your response.


(This is how women feel, once they are inside a Saree or a Jewelry shop in T-Nagar)

Don’t let your lack of enthusiasm show on your face. If there are more beautiful women around you, ignore them. Admiring some other woman at a saree shop is like a Dafa-302-scale crime.

Sarees in T-Nagar shops are classified according to their types and your aukaat. The T-Nagarian Taxonomy of Sarees can be mindboggling for unaccustomed men. So while you have the usual Toshar, Ponchampalli, Printed Silk, Benarasi Silk, Mysore Silk, Yeh Silk, Woh Silk and the famous Kanjeevaram alias Kancheepuram Silk(which in twitter terms is a classic example of #samething), you also have the:


and the:


and finally:


(or as they call in North India, the ‘Savita Bhabhi’ Saree)

In my opinion, this classification can be improved. You can name the sarees in such a way that the associated price tag need not be mentioned. One look at the name will tell you whether you can afford that piece of cloth or not. Take for example, the ‘Software engineer sarees’ vs. the ‘Doctor saree’ vs. the ‘IAS Officer Sarees’. You can further divide these sarees based on portfolios and degrees. So a ‘Civil Engineer saree’ would be more expensive than a ‘Industrial Engineer saree’ or an ‘IIT Saree’ would be costlier than an ‘NIT Saree’. Similarly you can have an ‘A Raja Saree’ which obviously would be beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. Or the ‘Arnab Goswami saree’ which can make all men, women and aliens speechless. Or the ‘S.M’.Krishna saree’, which would actually be someone else’s saree but you could loan it for a while. You get the drift.

I spent some two hours at Nalli after which we did what everyone does, walked out without buying anything. Our next stop was Pothys – a Khali of a shop just opposite Nalli. The store has a carved wooden ceiling, some traditional flower pots with real flowers and elephant statues(which are probably there to make North Indians feel at home). Anyway, we went through the same routine but did end up buying a few sarees. I was also lucky enough to notice a bengali couple fighting over something totally irrelevant. Much amusement.

After spending what felt like days in Pothys we decided to try another shop. This time it was the Chennai Silks. To reach from Pothys to Chennai Silk,  you’ll have to have some serious Spartan genes. We did this stunt on an empty stomach and almost fainted before reaching Chennai Silk. As a contingency plan, we entered the first restaurant that we spotted and had some surprisingly well made Paneer Parathas. Then began the Chennai Silks March.

T-Nagar traffic looks really charming from a distance. But once you are caught in the human tidal wave, you have this severe ‘Kaha jaun, kaise khujlaun’ feeling. It is this Bermuda Trianglish sensation that makes you forget whether you were going into a shop or coming out of it. You can clearly visualize Newton’s action-reaction law because you get so much action for a while, you can’t react. But once that overwhelming feeling of doom died, a fresh resolve to reach Chennai Silks emerged. Dialogues from inspiring movies were doing rounds in my head, a ‘Lahron ke saath, toh koi bhi tair leta hai’ constantly kept me motivated and somehow we managed to reach Chennai Silks. However I didn’t have any Tan ki shakti or Mann ki shakti left thereafter.


(Shopping: 1, Tantanoo: 0)

So my friends did all the shopping while I watched another couple fight over the color of a salwar suit. A friend then brought this to my notice:


As I wondered how to accomplish a mix and match of a bottom and tops, my friends announced that the shopping trip is officially over. After a card-machine network outage and some dance steps by the billing personnel, we made a hasty exit from the shop and jumped into the first auto-rickshaw that we saw. “ANNA Chalo!”

We spent seven and a half hours in T-Nagar. Seven. And. A. Half. (That’s 3 times Charlie Sheen, mind you) And still survived to tell the tale.

I believe T-Nagar has more miracles that need to be witnessed, more adventures and accidents that need to be told. I’ll be going there again in the near future, when I feel particularly suicidal or when one of my cousins gets married and the ‘Silk Saree demand supply curve’ is disturbed. Till then, I’ll live in the hope that someday they’ll name a Nagar after me. Tantanoo Nagar, they’ll call it and it will be the best place in the whole wide world. After T-Nagar ofcourse.

Disclaimer: This post is a dramatic reconstruction of real events and any resemblance with any person, place or dress material is co-incidental and unintentional. It would be advisable to refer to T Nagar’s wikipedia page for some real information.

P.S.: With this post, we announce the ‘Tantanoo goes to’ category. Based on the ‘Baby’s day out’ school of thought, these posts will describe Tantanoo’s visits to places of interest. His interest that is.

P.P.S.: While searching for T-Nagar on Google, I discovered the following:

An Inceptionistic blog post by Krish Ashok which has a blog post inside a blog post on T-Nagar

A Guide to crossing the Nageshwaran Road in Chennai

– and this video. I don’t understand a word of what they are saying, but the video looks pretty awesome.


Update: Here is a video of a Chennai Silk guy at work. Poetry in Motion. Borrowed from here.

(Thanks @prdyt)