One of the most often asked questions before our move was, "Where will you be living? What kind of place will it be?" I had to tell people that I wasn't really sure. I knew it would be some type of apartment, but that was as much as I knew.
When we left the US, we hadn't even decided between living in Delhi or Gurgaon. Dan's office is in Gurgaon and Rachel's school is in South Delhi. We have now decided on Gurgaon. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurgaon for a little more about Gurgaon) Once we decided on our location, we started on the house/apartment/flat hunt. The word "flat" is used most often here due to the British background. (Will post at a later date on all the British terms we have learned for some of our common terms.) In Gurgaon you can find high rise apartment buildings, three or four story buildings with one flat per floor, individual bungalows, and farmhouses on the outside of town. Most of the flats and bungalows have three to four bedrooms with a bathroom in each. Our real estate broker says this is because commonly there are more than one generation living in Indian homes. The separate bedrooms with attached baths give each generation their own space with privacy. The homes also have a drawing room (what I would call a den or living room), a dining room, and small kitchen.
We ruled out the farmhouses right away. Most of the people we know who have lived in a farmhouse decide to move closer to town and into a flat within the first year. The grounds and gardens are beautiful with peacocks, monkeys, snakes, and other tropical animals wandering right outside your window. The idea of living in such a location sounds wonderfully exotic and even romantic. The realities are that you need to have a staff of four or more people to help take care of the home. Managing a staff that large in itself is enough of a reason for me not to choose a farmhouse as a home. Also, I will admit that monkeys and snakes outside my window are not quite my cup of tea.
We have decided on a flat in a high rise building. The communities are about half expats. I know, I know, what is the appeal of moving to India if you are going to live around people just like you? The appeal is that they are people just like me. There are times when I want to have a neighbor with whom I share some cultural similarities. At the same time they aren't just like me. The expats here are from all over the world. So far, I have found quite an interesting group of people and can't wait to meet more....including Indian, British, Chinese, German, Brazilian, Canadian, and others.
So....we decide on a high rise. The first week we look at 20 flats. We find a place we love in the complex that had the most pros on our list. The company reviews the lease, makes a few amendments, and sends it back to the landlord. In the meantime, someone else comes along and the landlord decides to give the flat to them. Ugh!!!! I had started mentally placing my furniture in the different rooms and making lists of what items we will need to purchase.
Back to the drawing board and the house hunt. Remember, all this house hunting is being done in 100+ degree weather with a three and almost seven year old in tow. It takes four people, and sometimes more, to show the apartment. A driver to get us around, the relocation agent, the real estate broker and often his assistant, the landlord, and sometimes a random other gets involved too. Also, the broker and landlords often don't want to talk to me and just want to know what "sir" thinks or if I should wait until "sir" can come see it to make a decision. There were times when the broker would ask Dan a question about what we wanted in our home. Dan would look right at me for the answer. I would look the broker in the eye and answer him. He then turns to Dan and asks the question all over again. Hello, can't you hear my voice? I can talk louder if you need me to. Getting used to this very patriarchal society is an adjustment for me....if you couldn't tell already.
Today we (the girls, the driver, the relocation person, the broker, and I) went back out looking again. Thankfully, we found a flat in the complex we like. It is being renovated and will be available mid to late July. The landlord was there. He spoke perfect English and seemed very comfortable dealing with me. He didn't even flinch when I told him that Dan had left it up to me to make the decision and didn't need to see the place. Good sign right there that we will get along with the landlord. Later this week, we (the whole group mentioned above) will do a more thorough walk through of the flat. Once this is done, we can sign the lease. I am trying to think positive and am hopeful that this one will be the one. We are all very ready to be out of the hotel and in our own space.