Delhi Is Under Siege!!! Bachao… Bachao… | Ashlin Mathew

The brokers have Delhi under their armpits – lock, stock and barrel. It’s not a joke. There is not a service in the city that doesn’t employ the antics of these middlemen. And if you need a house, forget getting one on your own! The owners don’t want to give it to single girls who don’t come through property dealers and dealers don’t show you any house worth your salt and they are always trying to upsell crappy houses for mind-numbing budgets.

And when people woke up to the fact that youngsters from other parts of the country might just want to live in their city, they decided to open their toilets to welcome them! Literally. Some houses open into toilets. Trust me!

The architecture and the styling of the houses I have seen has left me flummoxed. Pradeep, a broker, took me to see a house in Malviya Nagar and I entered the house through the toilet. I open the door and I see the commode. No joke this. In some I enter through the kitchen.

The cheesecake, however, goes to a broker who on hearing my Hindi (that is obviously not Dilli-ised yet and has most than just traces of Mallu-ness in it) asked me if I am from South India. I go “Yes.” To which he says,”I have the perfect house for you people.” “You People,” I repeat, and obviously he confirms, I suppose with what can be called a grunt. And then he describes the house thus: “You will get a room, no cupboards. But there is a kitchen and bathroom outside, which you will have to share with a lot of people. Naaice koloney ma’am. Sharing good!” he intones. And I intone, “Thank you very much.” I was leaking with rage. What ever made him think that South Indians live in ghettos? Has he ever seen the houses we live in Kerala? We always have a well in our backyard, a courtyard in the front and a small vegetable garden. And this is not the description of a rich man’s house, but that of lower middle class families as well! We sweep the courtyard every morning even before these lazy buggers see sunlight!

The chocolate eclairs, interestingly, have been grabbed by others though. A property dealer takes an unsuspecting me to a GK1 property. How bad can GK1 be? Not at all, I thought! But pathetic, I figured now. On the top floor of a building, the owner has constructed a row of rooms, all with chipped-off pink paint. At one end is a dirty, muddy open space with a slab that he calls kitchen and just in front of it are a couple of bathrooms for more than 12 people. Seeing my brown skin turn red, he says another NDTV journalist lives here, so does a firang! “So bloody what”, I go in my head. Like whites and journalists are the epitome of all virtues.

Another one of the flashy, posh houses in GK-1, S Block had it all wrong. On the terrace, there already was a family with five children and they wanted me to share that minute terrace, which only had a spare room, with them. No kitchen, no proper bathroom either.

While on one of my sojourns with dealers, I was taken in a car to a house with plywood walls, no kidding, in Lajpat Nagar 1. Another one had an asbestos roof. And when I say no to such houses, all the brokers seem affronted! I can’t fathom why!

One of these nouveau rich guys in Uday Park has made the corner of a staircase into a kitchen for a room he wants to let out. To top it off, he tries to close it with one of those bamboo blinds and justifies it by saying no one wants to cook these days. Most houses that brokers say are in my budget have both the kitchen and bathroom separate on the terrace and the room I have to sleep in at the other end of the roof.

What is it about me that makes brokers show me only such houses? Or is it that I look gullible enough to rent out any trash they show? Well, I did the first time.

They don’t realise I’m out for war and I intend to screw them all royally! How, I have not figured yet.


Ashlin is, in short, part journalist, part procrastinator, part communist, part weird… but all woman. But to elaborate, she’s a computer science engineer who got fed up of writing in languages only non-humans would understand and required binary characters. So she decided to follow her dream of writing in English – the language she’s most comfortable with. To propel her dream, she did her post-graduate diploma in journalism and was picked up by a newspaper in Hyderabad. Having worked with them for more than four years, she decided to move to Delhi to challenge herself. Here, she’s still picking up the strands of her life.


  1. Naveen Sehrawat

    Hey … whoever you are .. bt thing is Delhi is not limited to the persons you meet and the areas you go … anyways lemme tell you that in delhi villages ppl do have houses with courtyard and kitchen garden and dey also have cattles … wht ur seeing is a Delhi which is professional, business oriented and i noe d same community of Kerala would also be same .. as dis community doesnt belong to any place … dey migrate from various places …………

    So before commenting upon any state people you should always read d whole thing about d state n understand d ppl of those state … dont jump to conclusion because of few ppl you meet

  2. Ah, and this is what is so interesting, isn’t it? My understanding of this piece is that it is that of an outsider, who actually DOES understand that there are better ways to live in Delhi, but who is being treated differently and is being shown alternate realities by brokers who do not see her as an insider in their city.

    We can only comment on our own experiences, right? This happens to be the experience of someone struggling to make it from the outside in.

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