As training and work continued, there was another aspect that needed to be taken care of - housing. Delhi was not a new city for me. While in boarding, we usually stayed over in Delhi for a day or two. With so many relatives around always, that was never a problem.
But this time, it was different. I was in the city for good. Though a few days stay at a relative's place could happen, the same could not be extended for ever. So, it was important to find a suitable place too.
Every evening, after returning from office, a friend and I used to meet property dealers and house owners. It was a task. First, we had to place complete trust on the dealer to get us a good deal. Second, finding a deal itself was very difficult; the foremost reason being that people are reluctant to let out rooms to girls.
It was an extensive search loaded with the ugliest of interviews by prospective landlords. Never before I had been confronted with questions as they would ask.
In fact, each one wanted all my visitors to carry along certificates proving that they were related to me. From being asked about our religions and food we ate, we also had to give out a complete history of ourselves and our families. Sometimes, it seemed that we'd receive character certificates from them instead of a room on rent.
We had been given free stay for a week in the company's guest house and needed to find an accommodation at the earliest. After a harrowing experience and an extended stay at the guest house, we were finally able to find a decent 2-rooms set. It had a separate back entry and was on the second floor, while the first floor was occupied by another guy.
Slowly, we started settling down in the new place. It was fun. It was liberating.
And setting up a new home from scratch is an experience you'd not want to miss.
So, we set up our home and figured out the rest for a comfortable stay. We were two girls and our shifts varied by an hour. So, either she or I would reach an hour earlier.
It was one of those tiring work days, when I returned home an hour early. After dropping me at the entrance, the cab sped off. It was summers and so, entering the house from the back entry was not an issue as it faced a park and there was usually someone around even in the late hours.
As I reached the first floor, I noticed that the room's door there was wide open. To reach the stairs, one needed to cross the door and it being wide open at that hour was rare.
Without any second thought, I worked my way towards the staircase. Just as I was about to cross the open door, I heard a sound. On impulse, my head turned left and what I saw left me totally stunned and baffled.
There lay this man on his bed, stark naked. Yes. Naked!!! And he was staring at me. That look in his eyes was unnerving.
I stumbled and almost fell.
Somehow, I gathered myself and hurried towards the stairs and without turning once, reached the door on the second floor.
As I fumbled with the keys, it fell through the stairs (iron jarred ones) and landed beneath on the first floor. I did not know what to do next. There was still an hour for my roommate to arrive and our landlord had moved away, leaving the ground floor vacant. I had to get inside my room asap and had to get those keys to open the door first.
It took all the courage within me to go and fetch the keys. I ran as fast as my feet could take me. Using the light from my mobile phone, I managed to find the key. As I sped towards the stairs with the keys in my hand, I heard a stir behind me.
I did not turn and continued to run. With shaking hands, I opened the lock, stormed into the room and shut myself in immediately.
I stood there for what seemed like eternity, shaken and shocked. My instincts did not work at all. Despite the mobile phone in my hand, I did not know who to call.
After what seemed like hours, I heard a knock on the door. I couldn't move. The knock became consistent and louder. I did not move at all.
Then I heard my name. It was my roommate. Somehow, I opened the door and let her in. She was surprised to find me in the dark room all drenched in sweat. When I told her what had happened, she rushed to check the door lock.
None of us could sleep that night. And by morning, we had made a decision. We called up our landlady and informed her that we could not continue to stay there. We had to start our house hunt again after mere 2 months of going through it all.
Yes, that was the best bet and safest option.
We knew and understood that our safety lay in our hands. There's no one we could trust in a new city. There are certain precautions we need to take at our end and the first step to our safety was a safe home. No matter what the price, that was one thing that could not be compromised upon. As before any one else, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
About the series - Blogdosts, through this series, I am attempting to share what I have learned in the past 8 years. I have broken down, then stood up, have trusted and have failed. It has been a bitter-sweet journey, which I am trying to bring to you all.
Will come back with more. Till then, take care and stay precious :)