When landlords get all up in your bidness

It’s bad enough when your parents hound you for being single and ask why you were out so late last night, but the Christian Science Monitor points to the double standard that single women renters face in India at the hands of their prospective (and over-protective) landlords:

It took Chiya Singh three months and seven real estate agents working in tandem to find an apartment to rent in New Delhi.

The problem wasn’t her credit history or salary. It was her status as a single Indian woman. The questions blocking Ms. Singh from a room of her own were a bit personal, she says. Prospective landlords wanted to know why, at age 29, she wasn’t married and why, as a single person, she didn’t want to live with her parents.

“It was an exhausting process,” Singh says, of trying to find her own place after she divorced. “I became a broken record. They asked ‘Why do you want to live alone?’ I said, ‘Um, because I think I’m old enough.’ “

That response usually netted Singh a cold expression and a vague “We’ll let you know” from the landlord. [Link]

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p>Because, I mean…why would a single woman want to live by herself?

In India, “If you want freedom, it can only be for one thing – sex,” Singh says. “You want to tell them [landlords], ‘That’s the last thing on my mind. I think I’m old enough to take care of myself.’ But for the landlord, it becomes an issue of respectability.” [Link]

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p>Right. Here is the even more messed up part. It is okay to rent to single white girls because…well, they are already slutty (or at least that is what the landlord quoted below seems to imply when she says “they are used to living on their own”).

“It’s an Indian mentality,” says Sonia Kakkar, a landlord in South Delhi. “We just feel more protective. You just feel that you are responsible.”

Ms. Kakkar currently rents the second floor of her building to two French women and prefers foreigners because she does not feel as protective of them.

They are used to living on their own,” she says. “If they have a problem with the flat, they come to us. Otherwise, there is no interaction…” [Link]

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p>Well, to all the parents reading SM let me tell you just exactly what it is that your live-alone daughters in America are doing:

Jennifer Chowdhury just invented the hottest new game in town. Screw the Wii. Ladies, get one of these. Then invite me over (so I can blog about it for the good of the readers I mean)

428 thoughts on “When landlords get all up in your bidness

  1. Of course, I have to work hard to ignore Eliot’s anti-semitism while admiring his genius :( Who is your favorite poet?

  2. Were Rahul and I the only people who watched the video, dammit? What’s more important, female renters’ rights in Delhi, or a video game where you get to touch someone’s happy-no-no place for points?! Priorities, people! PRIORITIES!

  3. i sort of breezed through the video (and found it very odd that she seemed to have a hard time, at least initially, in her oral presentation. but i’ll chalk it up to some throat irritation). but is level three the end-goal? salil, it didn’t even reach all the important happy-no-no places!

  4. Eliot is GOD. Period.
    Of course, I have to work hard to ignore Eliot’s anti-semitism while admiring his genius.

    How odd of God to choose the jews.

  5. Abhi

    I need another monkey assistant.

    How many do you have now, Abhi? :)

    Check out these monkey forebears at NASA. The NASA monkey program may have reached its, er, apogee, with Sam, who went on a Mercury mission in 1959. And as he was a Rhesus monkey, like many of his predecessors in space – I would guess he was born in India. (India was the largest exporter of Rhesus monkeys at the time.)

  6. Check out these monkey forebears at NASA. The NASA monkey program may have reached its, er, apogee, with Sam, who went on a Mercury mission in 1959.

    When we created Sepia Mutiny we got our inspiration for employing monkeys because of the beneficial effect they had on the space program.

  7. Eliot is GOD. Period.
    YES !! ( and followed closely by Yeats)

    Eliot and Yeats are for pussies. This here is a real poet.

    P.S – I wish there was a charge code I could use for SM and spend more time on fun threads like these at work. Sigh!

  8. Oooo, overall, or by era, or by literary movement?

    Overall is what I was asking. But feel free to break it down how you like.

    This (Toby Keith) here is a real poet.

    You’re right. Prufrock’s pondering over peaches hardly compares to the poetry of Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass It’s the American way

  9. When we created Sepia Mutiny we got our inspiration for employing monkeys because of the beneficial effect they had on the space program.

    And of course, ‘macaca’ as an insider reference to desis must also have been inspired by them, right? :) Because, space pioneers they certainly were, but they were quite literally a bunch of macacas.

  10. Mahmoud Darwish (for overall), in a heartbeat.

    Haven’t read him at all, unfortunately. I haven’t read many non-native English poets actually. Care to suggest a few?

  11. or a video game where you get to touch someone’s happy-no-no place for points?!

    Who cares about points when everyone’s a winner?

  12. Speaking of what girls who live alone or with parents get up to, how do you supposed Aishwarya Rai (Ms “I live with my parents and I’m proud”) carried on with her Sallu/Vivek, etc? On location? At their place?

    TamBram, great anecdote! In a way gay men and women living together are somewhat more protected than straight couples if they are careful not to show affection in public – people are used to friends living together and I almost think you’d face less trouble renting that way in a large, anonymity-guarding city in India than in the US.

  13. I haven’t read many non-native English poets actually. Care to suggest a few?

    Hmm, for contemporary (translated) Arabic poetry, I would recommend: 1. Mahmoud Darwish. My works by him is Unfortunately, It Was Paradise. I also like The Adam of Two Edens.

    1. Any of Nizar Qabbani’s anthologies. He does mostly love poetry and is a big T&A guy. The only downside is that there aren’t very many good translations of his poems, in my opinion.

    I also like Czeslaw Milosz, but maybe that’s the establishment in me talking :) He is, of course, not an Arab poet, but he also does some interesting translations with Robert Hass.

    For multilingual “political poetry” from the U.S., I really like Martin Espada’s stuff, especially Alabanza (which is a “collected works” bit). His poetry is in English and Spanish, and is often mixed. Not every poem is amazing, but he does wonderful things with imagery. For single editions, I think Imagine the Angels of Bread and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands.

    I would begin there. I’ll have to look through my bookshelf a little more to see if I have any other really interesting non-native or multilingual poets.

  14. “my works”? I meant “my favorite works by him…”

    In a way gay men and women living together are somewhat more protected than straight couples if they are careful not to show affection in public

    but don’t you think the fallout is generally worse than it is for heterosexual couples if they’re “outed”?

  15. No problem! Anything that gets folks reading poetry is good, in my book. I guess this is another justification for the Mutinous book club? :)

  16. Camille – oh yeah, fallout is definitely worse. But there’s also a lot of denial and don’t-ask-don’t-tell.

  17. Interestingly enough, landlords here in Bermuda prefer it if you’re single. Due to the huge demand for decent rentals, landlords are able to be picky & choosy about whom they want renting their space. Words like ‘Professional non-smoking couple’ are ones that landlords like to hear. A question we’d often get asked is if we’re married. As Bermudians are very religious, there are some that refuse to rent to unmarried couples. Being betrothed does not count either. Of the 10 apartments we looked at when we first got here 2 years ago, only two ventured to ask about our marital status. Two that we can remember!

  18. “how do you supposed Aishwarya Rai (Ms “I live with my parents and I’m proud”) carried on with her Sallu/Vivek, etc?”

    In the back of an autorickshaw….that’s gangsta

  19. Tambram

    We have one flat in Air Force Housing Board.
    In Air Force flats all windows are at exactly same level,

    Hey Tambram, so far I thought your handle was meant to connote ‘Tamil Brahmin’. But was I wrong, and does it refer instead to the Air Force Station at Tambaram?

  20. @374 (chachaji)

    I suppose Tambram is a Tam Brahm from Tambaram. Might offer Tamboolam on a TambaaLam to visitors.

  21. Wow, Tambrams out of the woodwork everywhere! pingpong, what gothram are you? Myself, revathi nakshathram, naithruba kashyaba gothram.

  22. So SM’s like a cyber tharagar, I guess…the way you all are exchanging jaadagams around here…

  23. That’s so 1976, Rahul. Nowadays, the paiyan has to sing for his sojji-bajji. I suggest you take some tips from Kamal

  24. Even before I click on your link, I will categorically state that I will not accept any peeing on my pattu veshti. Now, let me go see if that’s what you were suggesting I need to put up with.

  25. Myself, revathi nakshathram, naithruba kashyaba gothram.

    Is it then understood that you must be Vadagalai, or not even?

    BTW, ‘Degree Kaapi’ has made it to the wiki , and it’s home is now on flickr.

    And just totally btw (and if anyone cares) – my sister-in-law is ‘TamBrahm’. :)

  26. To the (apparently) 2 non Tambrams on this site, my apologies :) Kamal in his youth can’t be beat. And the comments on the youtube link are HILARIOUS!

    Check out the one by “seruppadi”!

    seruppadi (2 weeks ago) upload panradhu adhuthavan padatha, mayiru idhula enna vangaya kanda naadharin thayarippu’nu oru intro? enda dei!

  27. Is it then understood that you must be Vadagalai, or not even?

    Wrong sort of foreheard marking, I think…

    Even before I click on your link, I will categorically state that I will not accept any peeing on my pattu veshti

    What’s a little pee in exchange for everlasting love, Kollywood style?

  28. And the lyrics right before the moment of reckoning are priceless too. I’d never noticed! “Velli pani urugi en madiyil veezhndadhu pol irundhein” :)

  29. Is it then understood that you must be Vadagalai, or not even?

    chachaji, you’ve now officially exceeded the limits of my knowledge on this issue.

  30. I’d never noticed! “Velli pani urugi en madiyil veezhndadhu pol irundhein” :)

    Heh. Actually I never made the connection before. You’ve ruined that song for me forever! ;)

  31. in the sridevi-kamal link, is she already married to him? it looks like a prospective bride viewing to me. i ask because she touches his feet. where i come from (i don’t know if its true for the entire north), unmarried women do not have to touch anyone’s feet. i’m not sure why, but i think it’s because unmarried women (this thread, after all, is related to south asian cultural perceptions of single young females) are presumed virgins (“kanya”) and virgins have a special significance because they evoke certain forms of durga/other goddesses. therefore, it’s disrespectful to the goddess to have her earthly counterparts touch people’s feet. conversly, when you get married, you lose your purity/innocence etc by becoming more entangled in worldy matters, sexually active, and technically subservient. now, this explanation could be entirely mistaken. is there a religion scholar in our midst? it’d be great if someone could explain this.

  32. It is a “girl viewing” (literal translation). And while I haven’t been part of, or privy to one of these, all that I’ve learned from my movie watching tells me that feet touching, and consumption of assorted delicacies is involved.

  33. damn, you tambrams are a fast lot. i go away for a few hours, and you all have already produced the biodatas and moved onto the ponnu paakurathu.

    I have no idea if the connection was intended. But I’m glad to have made it.

    i’m quite sure it was intentional – that movie is on the mark at almost every point.

    all that I’ve learned from my movie watching tells me that feet touching, and consumption of assorted delicacies is involved.

    personally, i like to offer the prospective groom a choice of kaapi or g&t – i find the alcohol lubricates the situation for us both. then i bust out the carnatic music and hope for the best.

  34. personally, i like to offer the prospective groom a choice of kaapi or g&t

    vaat, no vodka gimlets? ponnu nadathaiye seriyaa illai.

  35. vaat, no vodka gimlets? ponnu nadathaiye seriyaa illai.

    ennattha panrathu? ellam vidhi – ellam avan saiyal. if i was destined for g&t and he for vodka gimlets, perhaps it was not meant to be. if he asked for a tequila shot, there might be something there.

  36. Nichayam aaharathukku minaadiye indha aatam aadaraanna… Sari, tequilaava kudichu tholaikkarein!

  37. Sari, tequilaava kudichu tholaikkarein! Aana onnu, kalyaana medaila namma bombay sapphire thaan irukkanum. Sammathamunna, ippove soliidu. Illaati aala vittidu pa!

  38. Adhukkkulla kalyaanama? Konjam thaan pazhagalaame? Konjum greygoose viddhaiya kaatarein unakku.

  39. actually, enakku kalyaanathila nambikkaiye illai. so nee etha venaalum, eppo venaalum kaatalaam, daa – naa thayaar.

  40. modhala nee unnodatha kaattu. apparama naan kaatturen. and quite frankly, i’m not sure there’s much else to discuss here…