Unreal Estate

It is a bright, hot day in July, and the clocks were striking for better pay. I have been busy watching, in one go, 3 seasons of Battlestar Galactica, and today morning, while putting on a shirt that felt distinctly uncottony, I was wondering whether Battlestar Cottonica was at war with the Nylons. Not good at all. And in this state of mind , I find myself apartment hunting in Chennai.

It’s not easy. Apartments in the city cost an arm, a leg, and another arm. Where have all the “L”s gone? It’s all “C”s now. A 1200 sqft apartment in Adyar will cost x + iy(where x is what I can afford, and y is the imaginary component I need to cough up extra). Car parking extra. Water charges extra. Registration extra. Oxygen extra. It turns out that I have a choice between a dog kennel in T Nagar and a luxurious apartment in the outskirts of Palayamkottai.

But in this process, I have now achieved the equivalent of an SCJP certification in REPML (Real Estate Peter Markup Language), and I can now, without even blinking, figure out what a 1450 3BHK CCP 1C near Adyar BS means. But REPML is for beginners. Real pros talk REVML (Real Estate Visual Markup Language) and I am still a beginner at that.

REVML was invented by our ancestors in Africa, millions of years ago. It was when mankind had to move out of his ancient homes to seek newer pastures and set in motion the wheels of human history that the first real estate agencies were setup, and presumably, somewhere in the Central Africa, long ago, a real estate broker was planning to advertise new “projects” that were being developed in Jericho, near modern day Jerusalem.

That was when the world’s first real estate advertisement was drawn up after lengthy deliberations, such as,

Boss, Israel is too far away. How do we convince people to move to our new projects there?

Ah. No worries. All we need to do is draw a map that is not to scale, and simply forget to tell everyone that it isn’t. Just move the horn of Africa a little up, and no one will notice. After that, we just add a few attractive landmarks nearby, rephrase certain unfortunately named nearby lakes, stress on the centrality of its location, and we are done.

So now you know. Moving forward in history, REVML was handed down from generation to generation, as it continued to adapt to the times and boldly maintain its status as the bastion of real estate obfuscation over the ages.

So today, in modern day Tamil Nadu, REVML continues to evolve, and one can find many fine examples in the newspapers. The Hindu Property Plus is a particularly keen patron of this ancient art.

So what’s next? Advertising Alpha Centauri as being just a “stone’s throw” away from the sun? Advertising the risky star system next to the Cygnus X-1 black hole as “Just on the outskirts of the Event Horizon”?

46 Comments

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  1. Very pertinent. When you superimpose these real-estate maps on wikimapia you come to realize the ingenuity of these guys. It almost seems they live in a virtual world where distances can be expanded or contracted as desired!

  2. Same experience when i tried to squeeze in a real estate shopping during my last India vacation. Medavakkam was so much hype that there are lots of IT companies and looked pretty closely located to the city in the Map, but boy I was mistaken. There were no roads and the place was too far from the city.
    You missed how interestingly they measure the distance and place that in the ad too:
    Airport – 8KM
    City – 15KM
    Railway station – 1KM
    Coovam – 20KM and all that Jazz

  3. Hehe.. nice…
    real estates are a scam indeed…!!
    good luck on that imaginary part..!! Thats where it hurts even more…!
    and an interesting map…! the world must have really shrunk and i didnt even realize it…

  4. few other things to fool people
    (a) “1500 SQ. FT” would actually mean pottikadai space since most of the sq. ft goes in the common area = common terrace + walls + lift + garden + etc. etc.
    (b) “Right next to IT corridor” would mean some 2o kms on that road in some ABCPakkam and some 3kms on kalla / manna stretches somewhere deep inside from the main road next to a heap of garbage or a tributary of the koovam
    (c) “Close to school, shopping complex, sports complex” would indicate u move in now and the rest would probably (if ever) be ready by 2050.

  5. hehe.. brilliantu.. lol at the massacre of african map.. cape horn prolly doesnt feell so horny anymore :D.. what can i say.. i know this housing is a problem but thank heavens (really really) that we are on the right side of it.. supplying houses all in strategic locations vera.. we in fact have one opening right now.. in mandaveli.. 450 sq ft (ie. enough space for 2 thin peepuls or one fat maami to park their asses) going at 10k. we had one more but that was taken last week.. but u IT fellows have only urselves to blame.. just because u had money doesnt mean u should not be thrifty in giving to the builders no.. ungulukke thedi vangikitta aapu.. same problem with autokaarans..

  6. ROTFLMAO…….

    Your hunt has been taking a long while, now. I’m surprised you’ve not found anything yet!

    Could it possibly mean that, ahem…you and the significant other have champagne taste but a beer budget????

    Not to plug a commision that may be heading my way, but I might be able to help you…you did say you were a nice “brahmin boy” right?

  7. All forms of REML and REVML fails when u actually go there and speak to the tout/broker/service agent of the house.;-)

    A new form of REHDL { Real Estate House Description Language } creeps up.
    The house is crumbling yet the dude/lady will say it under repairs and by the time one plans to move in It will be ready . Ya right

  8. Real estate in Chennai makes the exorbitant prices in the Bay area seem reasonable. Seriously, for the same price as a 3 bedroom apt in Adyar, one can get a 3-bedroom condo in a nice area of San Francisco or LA with access to a pool (at least) and private parking! In Seattle or Houston, the same property would cost half as much! The only difference is that the average IT professional makes 100k/yr here and 30k/yr there!

    Absolutely love the last figure. I’ve seen similar stuff quite a bit, when I was looking a year ago.

    PS: Palayamkottai is not that different from Chennai – it’s hot and has water shortage. See if you can telecommute from there. πŸ™‚

  9. adhenna x +ij

    it should be x+iy or a+ib…

    πŸ™‚

    mannitharulvaayaga.. andha kaalaththu complex algebra fundaes ellam resurfaced.. and the sankara sastri in me couldnt shut up!

    After reading your post, realized that I live just 22 hours away from Chennai and happen to be a few minutes from Apple headquarters..

    really love your posts man. You rock.
    Ashok: Thanks Sundar πŸ™‚ I’ve fixed the complex number bit now

  10. Most illuminating, as usual. Your crystal clear logic leaves nothing to be desired. There is an entire theory out there, waiting to be written. Something on the lines of how distances are relative and contract or expand depending on the frame of reference of the observer. There used to be a clerk in a patent office in Berne who muttered something about it, but I don’t know if he’s still around. Highly doubtful if he would be able to solve this problem anyway.

    In Bombay, there is the additional phenomenon of “imaginary area” which appears only in the equations for computing price. It is called “superbuilt area” and includes, among other things, the watchman’s loo and sweeper’s changing room.

  11. I empathize. Completely.

    Try Hyderabad. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with Chennai again. There you at least have a language to decipher. Here all you deal with is a bunch of goons, trying to sell you four walls that have probably already been sold to two other “parties”. At least.

    Good luck with the hunting. πŸ™‚

  12. Your thoughts are really ahead of our times…

    Reminds me of the movie Demolition man in which there was a museum where VIOLENCE was considered as History…

    “Advertising Alpha Centauri as being just a β€œstone’s throw” away from the sun? ”
    LOVED IT

  13. amazing diagrams ! rockfort to bus stand took the cake.

    ps – ‘this morning’ and not ‘today morning’ in the first paragraph. my friend’s 70 yr old convent educated paati corrected me 10 years ago and it has been etched in my mind since.

  14. About an year ago, when I was searching a house for rent in chennai, I ended up with a real estate agent at T-nagar who would show me the house only if I pay him Rs:200 upfront. It was his fee for the service and if I end up taking the house, then commission is extra. After I paid him, he showed me the house where I had to maneuver through lots of tunnels, creepy walls and ditches and finally the 2BHK house was nothing but a big rathole not even worthy of a warehouse. Later that day I found out that this agent makes money not by commissions but he has only this one house and he shows this to everyone and since nobody comes back to him, he makes a cool Rs200 profit each time.

  15. Awesome dude!! Tried real hard for an year to buy an apartment in chn. Got tired and resorted to procrastination. One day there’d be a mortgage crisis in chennai too, one hopes!

  16. Reminds me of the s.ve sekhar play in which the dude rents that little place in the nadu center of the Myalpore tank…

    anyway good luck with the apartment hunting…

  17. HaHa…
    ROFL at the last map. Esp. the name – “Kaarthiek Reall … ”

    Reminds of the time I saw “Paalajnee Indusstriess” in pondy πŸ™‚

  18. @Dipali, Not very well I’m afraid. In addition to dealing with the visual aspects of the Theory of Realestativity, I need to get used to its verbal aspects as well. For instance, “near” now has an infinitely stretchable meaning, “proper road is in construction” could mean anything from a decade to an ice age, and “1450 sqft” could refer to areas found in other dimensions, like the 4th or 5th dimension perhaps

  19. Beshtu stragtegy (?):

    ( warning: non-funny comment. Vatodo all creative juices dried upp post dealing with maid-‘ouse-cleaning paa. Phull yenergy drainer it is wonly)

    Vy naat buck the trend and move to rural beauies areas. My thinking: yif 41% of India’s pooo,ooo.000,000,oopulation is going to move to shities, then I’d rather live Away From Shities.

    But yes I will miss Parthasarathy Koil romba much 😦

    My bestest wishes for Finding Dream Apartment. Ess it is hellish hunting for the same no.

  20. Got myself an apartment in adyar.. 6 years back. Cost about a fifth of what the market value is today. And it will probably, at some time in the not too distant future, go right back to those levels or even lower, just as soon as the bubble bursts.

    Till then you can get one of those waterfall paradise appartments (much more common than apartments, that lot) from kaarthieck builders .. somewhere like puzhudhivakkam (which does exist, and the roads there are like the name suggests, like that Alistair MacLean novel, The Way to Dusty Death), karapaanpoochikaranai (well, there’s a pallikaranai, if you prefer lizards to cockroaches..), etc.

  21. Really nice post!!! Reminds me of my own home hunt that has not ended yet because all the Ls are now Cs.
    I saw Casa Grande’s ad in The Hindu’s Property Plus last Saturday and was laughing my guts out (thanks to your post!). It read “Today’s Ponmar is tomorrow’s Velachery” and had a map of Chennai spanning Velachery to Selaiyur (around 20kms distance).

  22. Very true Krish…
    these days Porur, Iyyapanthangal and even Arakkonam are “very near” Chennai as per the real estate agents. Infact, I saw one ad that said, ”
    Located at Porur, just 10minutes drive from airport”. No one would be able to make it in 10minutes given the traffic and the poor roads.

    The map is awesome.

  23. Krish,
    You should also take a look at the floor plans and the specifications. They are so ridiculous and use so many obscure wordings that you can’t figure out a word. The central idea seems to be that you pay extra for everything except for the bricks and the cement.

  24. Hilarious!!!!

    At this rate, the estate agents might add a hill station (Shimla) 1 cm north of Rashtrapathi Bhavan and three swimming pools (Arabian, Indian and Bay of Bengal) 1 cm south of Palayamkottai and double the price of ur luxury apartment!!!!

  25. When mentioning distances to strategic locations, they should probably add the Tolkienish ‘as the crow flies’ clause…

    Nice one…and good luck…

  26. Too Goood…..

    Its the same here in Bangalore too…

    Am new to the blogging world, but rite from the day i have started blogging i have never missed your stuffs in it… Truely Hilarious……

  27. dude,
    you have an imagination that runs away with you!
    Hilarious!
    esp the part of moving Africa and telling people its a more centralized location!
    awesome!

  28. Yo Krish, awesome job! Keep up the good work!

    Your peter rendition of day-to-day sarcasm is what makes your blogs special!

  29. And in case you’re a bachelor looking for a house in blore, let me know.. I’ll take you to a broker first… I mean a marriage broker…

  30. Hey how true. I wanted to pen about the rents in chennai after an incident last weekend in chennai. What on earth do these landlords (konjundu land vachrinthalum landlord than pola),think!! 10,000 bucks for a 550 sq.feet home in kodambakkam.. Where are we heading ???
    Amazing diagram! ROTFL!
    cheers
    Ann

  31. its like getting married to a person you like, first you have to hunt for a right partner (property) and if the girl or boy is handsome, beautiful, from a good family (locality around the property) then then obviously lots of prospective brides and bridegrooms (buyers). If all this works fine for you then you come to dowry (negotiations), that’s where most of the buyers miss out. Affordability, Individual Assessment, Wrong Guidance. You end up being a bachelor or a spinster (without a house of your own). There are people in desperation choose the wrong property (wrong partner) and crib for rest of their life.

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