The Single Not So Simple Life

by Smitha Nandkishore, www.yourownroom.com

A society is only as healthy as its ideas are humane — Kurt Vonnegut

The life of singles in cities — these words instantly evoke images of charming young people in attractive apartments, leading the good life….in other words a scene straight out of the popular sitcom “Friends”.

If only it were true, lament these hapless youngsters.

Any metro today indulges its citizens with choices of accommodation, entertainment, eateries and lifestyle options. Demographics like the well-heeled travellers, married couples and families are spoilt for choice in the accommodation space, with houses of all sizes in attractive localities wooing them with myriad facilities. However, for the younger members of the society, the singles — students and the young workers migrating from all over the country, the accommodation spectrum offered is a nightmare.

The youth in any urban metro today form a sizeable chunk of its population. So it speaks of a very sorry state of affairs to confront the irony that, it is this segment of students and young job seekers who are the most neglected.

It is these youngsters who are fuelling our economy as is evident from the way every restaurant, theatre or store is geared to cater to them. However, welcome they are made to feel elsewhere, when it comes to finding a welcoming home, they are treated as nothing short of pariahs!!

As far as landlords go, more often than not, they are regarded as the necessary evil to be endured, the forced burden to be borne, never mind the fact that it is these exploited tenants who are the real victims in this scenario.

Uprooted from their familiar environs, adjusting to an alien city and its typical demands, is the least of the hurdles these youngsters have to overcome.

With rosy expectations of finding a cozy nook to live in, from where they can live life to the fullest pursuing their dreams, excited at the prospect of living life on their own terms, minus the shackles of an over-protective family, they are in for a rude shock from the word go.

Greedy shark like brokers in a hurry to close deals, with scant concern for tenant rights and privileges, set the tone of things to come. Meeting the landlords next, is a depressing progression from the frying pan to the fire!!! Home owners and neighbours typically treat singles with suspicion bordering on paranoia.

Why do singles face this trust deficit?

No loud music can be played, you can’t have friends over, no partying of any sort, no loud talking or laughing …….the exhaustive list of don’ts from landlords, usually ending with the smug parting shot, “after all we are decent family people here”.

Notwithstanding the fact that the word “bachelor” has a debonair ring to it, in the dictionary of an average home-owner, it usually translates as a euphemism for a debauchee!!

They are expected to be mature and responsible in paying the rent on time, maintain the premises and yet are not to be trusted to have their own space and privacy and live life responsibly, on their own terms.

“The only movement I am allowed seems to be to breathe in and out” complained a frustrated single.

As far as the fate of single women go, the lesser said the better. More often than not, they have to compromise on basic aspects like security and trust in their good luck to keep them safe.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, the suspicious and hostile attitude of landlords don’t improve matters one bit.

Women rushing to meet deadlines and returning late from work, are given ” the looks” and reminded that it is a “decent society”. No late hours or any members of the male species, be it friends/colleagues/relatives allowed anywhere in the premises, at any time, they are warned, by these moral gatekeepers of the society.

In short, singles whether men or women, are made to feel apologetic, put up with rude insults and boorish behavior in their crusade to merely find a living space. And if you thought that these soul sapping encounters prior to moving in was the culmination of their sorry saga, well think again.

Unannounced “inspections” from their overzealous landlords where they are subjected to the “third degree” is a routine occurrence. Also, with no choice or control in the matter of roomies, being thrown together with intolerable people makes an already sorry situation even worse. All this for poorly furnished, shared living spaces with zero privacy and security.

“A claustrophobic hell-hole” as a much harassed tenant so eloquently put it. Inflexible leases only add to their woes.

All in all, a sorry state of affairs indeed and one that begs for a change.