The Joke is on Me!

The lady in the house has imposed a curfew on splurging. “No Dream Home, no Cream Machines!” She says. And the law is wrought in iron.

You all know how wide open to interpretation a dream home is. It may mean a 27-story luxury mansion with 3 helipads on the top if you are an Ambani. Or a mudhouse with annually bio-degradable thatch overhead, for the differently-fortuned. But things get complex and murky in the intermediate. Nothing short of a multivolume saga can do justice to the middle land. But to describe the known unknown, let X be a roof over your head hopefully stretching across a couple of bedrooms, washrooms, a kitchen and a living room, for which you don’t pay extortion fee at frightening intervals and still be mauled by the ‘Landlord’, or for the less fortunate, by the ‘Landlady’.

Cream machines come in many forms and shapes and have different origins. To some they come from the houses of BMW and Vertu while for others they just have HERO stamped on them, or have cheap Chinese chips playing phone, camera and music, all at once. Cutting the crap short, they mostly come branded N-I-K-O-N to me. I can rattle out a list of gold rimmed lenses, DSLR bodies and speedlights faster than you can bat your eyelids. A quick autopsy of my bank account will reveal gaping dagger holes inflicted by the Japanese photographic prodigy, aided generously by random grenade attacks by certain Intel and NVIDIA corporations. Of late, tabs, pads, smartphones had joined the orgy.

Having reached the point in life where the rest of the journey appears to be a certain downhill saga, I have suddenly woken up to the clear and present danger of ending a homeless tramp. For the last fifteen years or so, I’ve been blaming it on my employers who have truly reduced me to a gypsy. Every few years I have bitten the dust in a different state of our incredible nation. Each time, I have vainly sought my home in each of these worlds and have failed bitterly. I was readily put off by the aloofness of Rajasthan, smugness of Maharashtra and the brusqueness of Punjab. Yet, my comrade-in-arms have all found their places under those very suns and settled cosily in the nests woven by them.

I have also blamed the real estate mafia for my homelessness. The prices have spiralled nearly fifteen times in the past ten years. Of course I have been waiting for the ever bloating bubble to bust one of these days. But the godfathers appear to have deeper roots than the motherland herself. The point is, I may not be around to loot the rightful booty if ever the sanity is restored.

Ironically, I would not turn to the paternal house either. The tranquil village by the pond has turned into a hotbed of corrupt, cast-based politics. The wind that shook the barley is mired forever.

Realizing it could be the last train to get real on the real estate, I have postponed a Tehrir Square on the lady. It is rather time I followed the in situ leader! And it is time I saved and saved hard. I am closing the chapter on coveted Nikkor lenses and a new pro-class body with a heavy heart till I move under a roof of my own. Farewell is also due to the amazing crop of tabs, pads and smartphones mushrooming by the hour. Hopefully, twenty years from now when I would have paid off the mortgage on that would-be home, I will still be left with enough juice in my veins to lift a DSLR mated to a professional lens. Or will I just be able to send a request from my phone to a satellite camera to shoot the Tso Moriri at sunrise?


  1. Can absolutely understand the pain of those sky rocketing prices of homes and the sacrifices one has to make to buy such a home! But I guess, at the end of the day, having a piece of land/house on this wide earth, feels great and the sacrifices may be just well worth it.

    1. @Richa: Well said, Richa. It strengthens the resolve. Welcome to the blog.

      @Giribala: Not invariably so but then, Yes, in this case and thank you, GB.

  2. US – I am getting quiet sure by the day that money is the curse of human society.. there is never enough. Often I sit in silence and ponder if there is a unseen black hole which is sucking away all what i earn..
    Good luck with your home search – there never was and never will be a better time. !

  3. “The tranquil village by the pond has turned into a hotbed of corrupt, cast-based politics. The wind that shook the barley is mired forever.”

    You are quite an artist with words!

  4. Very well written with your usual dose of self deprecating humour. But it also expresses the anguish of millions of Indians who have no clue as how to acquire that most essential material possession in life – a roof over the head. One thing I have not understood. There has been a real estate boom – more like an explosion really – all over the country, from big cities to small, barely known or heard of towns, for the last few years now. Every where you go, you see constructions all around. Ugly, multi storied buildings have defaced practically the entire country. BUT WHO BUYS THESE PROPERTIES ? By Indian standards, I may probably be called upper middle class, yet in spite of easy access to home loans, I cannot even dream of acquiring a two bed room flat in a middle class locality in a decent city. Can you please solve this mystery for me ?

    1. AB, the multi-storied constructions, ugly or swank, that you are witnessing on every imaginable stretch of land are just a tip of the mammoth iceberg of unholy money. It is the most ingenious method of money-laundering discovered by the termites of this nation. I don’t say there are no respectable companies in the business of real estate. And I don’t say there are no respectable buyers investing their hard-earned money in these houses. But you’d be hard put to find a mafia, petty or deadly, who are not into the game. It is a convenient arrangement wherein both the seller and the buyer can launder filthy laundry. Together they have bloated the bubble beyond endurance.

  5. I can empathise with the anguish under the subtle humour. Oh, for a roof!is the refrain of millions of middle class people in this wonderful country. But thankfully, today 100% cheque payments are possible as more and more people are realising the worth of legal money which they can enjoy in peace.

  6. 1. This post is a masterpiece in English literature.Humor and poetry fly on the wings of desire.
    2. While you talk about that dream home, your first love seems to be photography.
    3.Property has become out of reach for service class. You have to be either a bureaucrat or a politician.
    It was a pleasure reading the post.

  7. wonderful post Uday ji.
    Dream of a mango man to have a roof over head is outpaced by the so called petty or deadly mafiasos. One with untaxed money can easily own one of the finest apartments anywhere one likes. But ppl like u and me have to think and have to forgo some of our passion for the time being to have a roof overhead.
    keep writing uday ji, i have become fan of your writing 🙂
    ~Krazy Memoirs

  8. LOL you even got a new name? Uday doesn’t sound too bad.
    Ahh…life’s tough choice between passion and practicality – don’t we face it all and it’s usually the head that overtakes the heart.

    I’d say indulge in your passion for photography and the DSLR will follow sooner or later :))

    1. Better be known by any name than die unknown!

      I already own a semi-pro DSLR, its just that “over-arching vault of Ambition”….

  9. Dear,
    Mr. Pandey,
    Your post instantly landed me into the realm of Wordsworth’s
    ‘Independence and resolution’ and intensely reminded me of Lamb’s pathos,humour and above all his irony.
    Yet, another reading of your post transported me into the world of Nightangle and reminded ‘Fancy cannot cheat so well.’
    Please keep writing as your diction puts balm on innumerable wounded hearts. Going through your writings is like intoxicating oneself with smooth Royal Challege or listening gazals of Mehdi Hasan.
    I wish that you should accomplish all your desires:be a homeowner,a famous photographer and above all winner of some international literary awards.

    1. Dear Mr Verma, even as I bow in deep gratitude to you, your tributes hang like albatross around my neck. You are but comparing glistening mountain peaks to a dirty roadside pebble.

      Thanks for the torrents of blessings.

  10. Taking a leaf from old bee-gees songs “I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing, oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me”, very well said.

  11. Well real estate prices are seriously having an adverse impact of common man in india, and today it is very difficult for a common man with an average income to dream about having his own home. But as one of the legend “Bob Marley” song says : “Singing don’t worry, about a thing, because every little thing is gonna be all right”, so hope you achieve your aim..!! 🙂

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