As new immigrants into the city five years ago, hunting a ghar meant using the following filters in order of priority –
- Needs to fit within a stipulated budget
- Needs to be on the western line, because western line trains are most efficient we were told
- Needs to be well connected to the local station
- Needs to be in close proximity to a market
- Needs to be well-ventilation, have good sunlight etc..
When we started looking, it dawned on us that we had not factored in the the largest filter of them all – the fact that the housing society should allow Muslims to rent and that the landlord needs to allow a part-Muslim family to occupy it! (A Pandemic or Mahamari is defined as an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population.)
Three weeks of intense house-hunting later, we stumbled upon the right landlord and thus, rented out what we called ghar for the next 5 (and counting) years. We share a love-hate relationship with this Ghar; in some sense it is the typical Bombay kholi – accommodating everyone, always brimming with family and friends and forever surrounded by the market, the rickshaws, even a metro station, on the other we detest the lack of direct sunshine, dampness during monsoon, no balcony space, and the fact that we were forced to dwell here for being part-Muslims.
Pre-covid, our ghar was mostly a station to sleep, and to store. It had hardly seen us indoors on weekends, or long holidays, and was very unaccustomed to being continuously occupied for long durations. In the new normal, we have already spent the last nine months stocked up and locked up inside this space – inhabiting it, occupying it and becoming contained in the container of our things.
Would we, still part-Muslim family, be able to find a house that lets in some sunshine in the Mumbai of Covid-19 pandemic?