House hunting is an art as I came to find out.
When people think of house hunting they always assume that you will go to this place see a house and fall utterly and completely in love with it. I will tell you this, house hunting is like dating. First you have to be in a particular mental state. You have to put it in your head that you want a house whatever happens. And stick with what you choose for awhile or forever sigh
When you set out to look for said house. You will have the specification, wooden floors granite counter tops a balcony that overlooks the ocean. Some, like us would want one wall to be made purely of glass. This particular wall runs from your bedroom on the first floor and the sitting room on the ground floor (Valid dreams).
A wall that will ensure you watch the sunrise and sunset every morning and evening You will probably use this wall for some steamy sessions with the better half. Was told this is unrealistic though. The wall not the steamy sessions.
So you set out for this dream house. The first house you see is nothing compared to your dream house. It has large windows and thats about it. Then the agent will quote a price that will have you whistling. Why the devil will this shit hole that doesn’t remotely resemble your dream house be so bloody expensive.
By the third house you realize that your budget is directly proportional to the location. Serene locations warants some hefty bills. “You need to be realistic!”, someone will tell you.
As if actioning these words the agent would take you to some beat down house. Maybe its in spite or maybe he is just being realistic. he continues to show you houses that are just not the one.
For some strange reason he refers you to an agent in Embakasi. Pipeline to be exact. The area with the tallest residential buildings in Nairobi. If you have never heard about pipeline you better take an Embassava at Turskys Imara. (Embassava are those matatus that have been on TV for all the wrong reasons.)Tell the konda you are alighting at pipeline.
So, you find yourself standing at the pipeline stage, you jump over a puddle. You wonder at that because it has been dry all month long
You remember a story about people releasing sewers on to the road. Goddamnit!
Said agent starts walking briskly towards the tallest residential structures you have ever seen. Almost KICC tall, not kidding.
There is a board talking of spacious and well funished bed sitters and one bedrooms. That is exactly what you are looking for. Your meager salary cannot afford a two bedroom and you just don’t have the heart to get a roomate. College has taught you roomates are strange creatures.
The agent is flying now and you run to catch up with him, all this while muttering under your breath. You should have just looked on OLX, would have saved you the trouble. He finally stops. Before you even take a breath he is opening the gate to one of the buildings and ushering you in.
The bottom floors are all taken he says.
So which floors are free you ask.
He indicates for you to follow him and so you do.
Three floors later you are gasping for breath. Of course you are very unfit. You start thinking of the gym sessions you have been postponing.
Agent notices your struggle and says. There is one vacant house remaining on this floor.( He calls them houses)
You are about to kneel and kiss the floor. Thank God for small mercies. He starts moving to the left. And stops afew meters from the stairs. Wait is that it? you think to yourself. You hate being close to the stairs. Too much noise you think. He gets out a bunch of keys and tries them one by one. He should have labelled them you think as you take stock of your surrounding. Opposite there is a door with lots of jerricans. It hits you that this is one of those houses with water shortage. You start thinking of how long it will take for the pumped water to reach your house on the third floor if there is pumped water or if you will be forced to go to the ground floor to fetch. This scares you simply because its exercise. Speaking of water you feel a drop on your forehead. You look up and realize to your shock that there are more floors. You register how dark this particular house is. The houses on the extreme ends are properly lit. The agent is still struggling to open the door.
“Excuse, you say. Do you have vacants on that end” you indicate by pointing upward to your left.
“Ahh no! Agent man says. All the ones in both ends have been taken”. Yeah trust humans to take the well lit houses.
“Show me 5B then”, you say because you are tired of waiting for him to open bloody door for 3G. You start to feel that maybe the agent man doesn’t like you. He sighs and swinging his bunch of keys starts to walk as you follow behind. Damn! How tall is this building. You ask him as much.
The sixth floor is the last floor he says matter of fact. The house is six floors there are 12 rooms in each floor. The landlord must be fetching a pretty penny from said house you think. Money always gets your attention.
Fifth floor. If there was an elevator you wouldn’t have to assume you are on the said floor. You have read somewhere that there has to be a lift if an apartment is more than a couple of storeys high, was it four storeys. You shake your head, after all this is eastlands, you have never seen a lift in any residential building these sides.
5B is not hard to open. Not bad. A bit dark though. The unistakable smell of mould hits you. You start to sneeze. First it was one sneeze then a bout of sneezes. Your eyes are watering now. You have watched an episode of House and know someone could die from living in a mouldy house. Shit!
To mask the sneezing you ask, “So, how often do you get water. You are covering your nose. Maybe the sneezing will stop. Small things like this trigger your asthma you think unconsciously rubbing your chest.
“Madam hii nyumba haikosangi maji”. Besides hawa watu wakuuza wako tu hapa nje.
Dead giveaway that there is no water.
The walls are beautifully painted. You move to inspect the patterns. You notice a huge crack running halfway across the wall. You rember a house fell in this neighbourhood
You take out your phone to snap a couple of photos. There is no reception you notice. You curse under your breath as you return the phone back into your pocket. Forgetting the photos.
You are determined to see if all the walls in the remaining rooms are cracked. The next three have cracks hidden beautifully with paint or tiles. 4C,5D,6A all have cracks too you notice. Your house hunting has turned into a CSI mission.
Give me the account details you tell the agent as you near the gate. He thrusts a piece of paper to you with the bank details.
You wonder if the house was financed by said bank. If so did they know the 6th floor wonder house was falling apart. If not, did the owner just chuck money to build a substandard house. To what end. And last but not least where was the city council.
The by-laws and the physical
planning Act that provided againts illegal
developments, you think to yourself. Kenya and corruption.
You jump over puddles and vow to find a bed sitter or just an SQ in a better built neighbourhood or just shelve the moving out bit for when you can afford a better house. Your perfect dream house mirage has been shuttered. You refuse to move into apartment number 5B in a moldy ill constructed building. You realize that not everyone has the luxury of a choice as you watch people moving in. Something must be done you think as you board the matatu back to town you just don’t know what, yet!