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Realty bites

At this crucial moment when the economy is on a tailspin, where to invest your money is an interesting question to ponder, especially taking into consideration the fact that you don’t have enough money to even tide over your monthly regular expenses.

Ha. Ha. As ever, I am just trying to be funny. But investment decisions are not matters to be joked about. So on a serious note, we will ask the question: Gold or real estate, which is the better investment option? I cannot speak for gold, but I have become an expert in real estate matters these days.

I get all the important details from the infomercials, featuring small-screen actors and actresses, which are such a rage on Tamil TV channels now.  These are brilliantly conceived programmes, where an actress, who generally plays the role of one who poisons her in-laws, or an actor, whose screen character is to carnally covet his friend’s wife, gives real estate recommendations. I find these programmes so rivetting, that even if Narasimha or Veerasamy is on a competing channel, I stick to these.

To those who haven’t seen any of these infomercials (this is technically possible in these parts only if you don’t own a TV), here is a glimpse of what you have been missing out:

Opening montage: Image of a fully fenced piece of property set amidst vast tracts of barren land. But this property is identifiably meant for residential purposes because it sports what any potential householder would primarily look for: Colourful flags. In general, there are more coloured flags in such residential properties than there are at the UN headquarters.

Actor/Actress (in a perky voice): Welcome to Golden Oak Colony, so named after the first commandment in real estate business, which states: ‘Thou shall have an extreme British name for a dusty property in Guduvancherry.’

Golden Oak Colony, spread over a sprawling 9 acres, is located in the heart of Chennai, at a touching distance of 75 kms from Egmore.

(On the screen, a visual of the Egmore railway station is shown as if as an incontrovertible proof for the above)

With plenty of industrial development taking place all around, we are happy to tell you that this area is soon set to become a huge hub of activity, even though it may be a fact that it is to escape precisely the crowded confluence that you might actually want to choose Golden Oak Colony.

(The camera pans around the background)

The important highlight of Golden Oak Colony is that school, hospital, bus stand are all situated just within one kilometre radius, which we will again convincingly establish by immediately switching to standard images of some random school, hospital and bus stand.

One of the things that any resident will look for in a housing property is the quality of drinking water. Luckily, I can confirm from the script that I am reading from now, the water here is as sweet as sugar. Psssst, water doesn’t taste sweet anywhere. If it ever had, there would not have been any need to conceive payasam at all.

Actor/Actress (in a perkier voice):  Golden Oak Colony is promoted by Saravanapandian, who has over three decades of experience in this business, as is clearly evident from his chunky bracelet, chunkier neck-chain and ugliest gold rings imaginable. In general, realtors are those people who advise you to invest your money in land, but smartly park their own funds in gold.

(Now the camera focusses on Saravanapandian as he alights from his white-coloured SUV. Realtors, it is mandated in their industry rulebook, have to drive around in a white SUV. Anything less than an SUV, I think, their industry licences are taken back. Clad in a crisp white shirt — this is another sub-rule —- he emerges out of the vehicle and immediately whips outs his flashy mobile phone and starts speaking over it. Evidently, he didn’t receive any call on that phone. But that doesn’t matter. Another important commandment of the industry is: Thou shall strictly not possess any taste and refinement).

Actor/Actress (looking into the camera and in a voice of extreme reverence): We have Sarvanpandian Sir, who, unlike other businessmen, is not money-minded. Profit has never been his motive. His gold jewellery and his vehicle, probably, emerged out of some magic. Thanks to him, no other charlatan can cheat gullible buyers now.

Saravanapandian Sir will also explain in detail the salient features of Golden Oak Colony and also tell us as to why he has priced this land so lowly, which frankly is a big surprise to many of us when the popular belief is that there may no be no takers for this land even if it is given free, considering the fact that it is so far removed from any civilisation.

Saravanapandian (in a hesitant but gruff voice): Profit has never been my motive. (Real estate dealers have this wonderful ability to repeat what has been already said before). I have never been money-minded. If I had been, I would not have lasted in this industry for 30 years, the bulk of which time I have spent pursuing ordinary dreams in ordinary circumstances inside a prison. If you have a dream house in your mind, the person to approach is me. My job, as it can be implied, is to build dreams.

(The show ends with a top-angle shot of the whole property with the colourful flags fluttering in the breeze. The important subliminal message being: The programme has ended).

I concede that the programme is not as stupid as I make it out. But my writing has its limitations. The programme is actually far stupider.


  • MN

    Oh man.. You helped me imagine those *good-ol-days* all over again. Thank you. I just hope the actual “Saravanapandian Sirs” that are going around in White SUVs don’t read this article without a sense of humor – lol..
    I’ve been bit by this bug years before. Just before these became the rage, our family had actually visited “M-City” (Mahindra City near Chengalpattu) – and some of the barren plots were somewhere around INR 1,000 per sqft – and not all of it can be covered by loan (meaning the official or registration value was not the same as the cost-price)..So, as would all middle-class income earners do, we decided to let the dream be (just a dream, that is). Then, we went out looking for an apartment – and we continue paying a huge sum as rent each month till date. [Side-Note: We own 2 apartment units currently looking for tenants – one at Siruseri, another at Virugambakkam – neither of which we consider inhabitable lol].MN

  • kbalakumar

    Virugambakkam? I live there. 🙂

  • MN

    Glad to know. Do you have any clue what the real-estate prices are – like for the Jains apartment at Reddy Street? I was shocked when I heard some numbers – like 5000 or 7000 per sq-ft. Just 10 years back we purchased for 500 or 1000 per sq-ft (agreed, I was still at college and not really astute on the costs).
    .
    IMO – if you own your house at Virugambakkam – you may be sitting on a gold mine – no, seriously.
    .
    MN

  • kbalakumar

    As it happens, I reside at the said Jains property. It doesn’t fetch the kind of amount you talk about 🙂

  • MN

    Oh, I think you’re just under-stating.
    .
    http://www.indianrealestateforum.com/chennai/t-jain-apts-virugambakkam-12555.html 
    .
    90 lakhs for 1300 sq-ft – that is 7000 INR per sq-ft. Oh, and this is back from 2010. Agreed, Jains have a bad-rap recently – but their quality & the locality demands far more than 1000 or 3000 INR per sq-ft, I’m wrong?

  • kbalakumar

    The rates are indeed what you mention. But hardly any takers. It’s stagnating.

  • MN

    Stagflation ? That’s the same term some of those lame-steam media websites were using couple weeks back..
    I wonder how a satire article on Keynesian economic theory (& the works of Ludwig von Mises) would look. I don’t know if many economics majors (let alone others) even heard the names John Keynes & Ludwig von Mises. Sorry to digress – but you pushed me towards it (using a financial jargon like stagnating – lol).

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