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As a non-vegetarian, I had a lot of trouble while house hunting in Mumbai, as I found people accepting tenants based on religion, caste, and food preference – in a cosmopolitan metro!
Sometimes a humble experience of looking for a house can bring about a revelation that you had never thought of earlier – as I discovered recently.
Sometime back I was on a house hunting expedition. The area that I had chosen was a very upscale, peaceful and well maintained suburb in Mumbai, with proximity to both the domestic and international airport, and said to have a liberal neighbourhood.
This is a place with not much traffic, well maintained roads, and where joints like Mc Donald’s, Café Coffee Day and Domino’s can be easily found. You can find crowds of teenage boys and girls together, chatting & having fun outside these joints and the several cafes in this area. Such sights make you feel that you are in an area where people may be modern and progressive.
Here is a twist to the tale. This is also the area where the tenant was decided not on the basis of the rent they pay or the position that they hold, but on the basis of the food that they eat! Yes indeed. Certain flats and societies are open only for vegetarians, not to mention their bias towards a particular community.
One of the first few questions that a broker asks is about your caste. So even while a non vegetarian eater is willing to pay the same amount of rent and is probably an equally responsible, law-abiding citizen, their preference of food results in an extended search for decent accommodation.
It sounds absurd to me that being able to abstain from non vegetarian food probably holds more value than being resourceful enough to pay the rent or being a responsible law-abiding citizen. The police verification certificate to confirm your credentials, the employment certificate to confirm that you have the means and the resources to pay and even a marriage certificate, to prove that you won’t indulge in unethical practices within those premises seem irrelevant in comparison with your food preference. How illogical it all seems; to be denied tenancy into a flat, just because of your liking for non vegetarian delicacies.
Of course, this may not be true for the whole of Mumbai, nor can I state emphatically that this is not prevalent in other areas. Maybe it is, and maybe there are many who have experienced this scenario and are aware of it too. But it did come as a surprise to me that such preferences exist in Mumbai, which is otherwise said to be such a cosmopolitan city.
With due respect to all religions and no intention to hurt the sentiments of any particular religion, I personally feel that the biggest religion is humanity, and no creed teaches us to be indifferent to the troubles of fellow human beings. For me, being able to provide a decent accommodation to someone would definitely take precedence over a religious sentiment.
Clearly everyone doesn’t think so, but just like one has the fundamental right to choose what to eat, wear, and speak, the owner’s fundamental right to choose their tenant cannot be denied. If only people were more empathetic towards the needs of others, maybe there would be more happy faces around us.
I just hope that in the future we don’t get to see more and more areas of Mumbai turn out to be caste specific, and that Mumbai still retains the cosmopolitan spirit which it is known and believed for.
Image source: pixabay
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A homemaker, a freelance writer who loves to travel and has a passion for reading.
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