A sunny Saturday morning. Months ago. I was relaxing in my easy chair with newspaper, making sure to skip Covid statistics. The mobile rings. “Friday evening in the States; should be my son,” I guessed. Yes it was.

Follows a volley of questions: “Hello Appa, how are you, how is Bangalore, how is the Covid situation there….?” After these mandatory preliminaries, he continues, “Appa with age getting the better of you….” I interrupted him there. ‘Sunny, age is just a number. Don’t rub it in. Get to the bottom…”

“Okay. I was thinking what if we sold my apartment in Bangalore, rather than continued to rent it out.” “Sure, if that is what you want,” I answered with supreme confidence of being able to do it for him in a jiffy, having 11 transactions in four Indian states in my kitty – treating buying and selling as two separate experiences.

Thus emerged my son’s apartment, in the same complex where we stay, up for grabs. Scores of prospective buyers visited the apartment – both from within and outside. For the insiders, it was more of a dekh ne mein kya harj hai than to ink a deal. For the outsiders excuses were aplenty. “You know we wanted East facing…’ “You have a bathroom in Kuber corner; therefore instead of accumulating, money will get flushed out…”  Another said, “The apartment per say is fine, but we would like our son in Germany to see and approve on his next visit during Christmas…’ Yet another suggested, “We will pay 30-40% upfront, register the property, and pay the balance after getting the Khatha certificate…” Simply put, enough comments to drive the seller mad.

Come last Sunday. The current prospective buyer had to make it all the way from North Bangalore to South Bangalore. A tall order, considering he will be at his wits end negotiating through all the busy roads. Yes, in India we drive on the left of the road. In Bangalore we drive on what is left of the road.

Hardly a few minutes before his expected arrival, our domestic help had cleaned the apartment with special focus on the living-room area where the last visitor’s little boy had managed to leave the balcony sliding door ajar as I was fiercely marketing my product with his Dad. Consequently, much of the gushing rainfall of the previous evening found its way into the hall, and I had to get it cleaned at short notice – before the visitor arrived, that is.

Radha did a good job indeed, but not without grumbling that this extra work had upset her schedule to the point of costing her job in one or two of her regular better-paying houses. I had to tip her more. On my side I was glad the apartment now looked a ‘bride-to-be’ in a boy-meets-girl ceremony – of yesteryears.

Against this backdrop I was walking to and fro in my son’s balcony like an impatient husband outside the maternity labour room. I re-rehearsed the selling points of the apartment – two balconies with no buildings in front to obstruct an uninterrupted communion with Nature, two car parks, the interiors done by none other than…., a first rate Owners Association with many civic awards to its credit… An endless list, if only the buyer had an ear for them.

Strictly between you and me, I have repeated this very dialogue to all the visitors so far, but of no avail. They want to listen to what they want – the lowest price at which I am prepared to sell it in the context of a declining real estate market. Not a pleasant proposition.

A fresh dilemma. Should I keep some buffer, to permit a possible bargain? After all, any buyer would like to get a satisfaction that he brought down the price from 2.0 to 1.75 and the like. Or, should I straightaway quote him a non-negotiable price.

Truth be told, I have tried both.  Neither worked. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall,” and here I am awaiting my luck this time.

As though unable to bear my struggle any more, there is a divine intervention. “Okay, we close the deal at your last price,” announces the beaming buyer, happy that he got a best unit. I felt equally happy that I got the best price for my son.

All is well that ends well. But there can be a slip between the cup and the lip. For that I need your best wishes.

The icing on the cake? This happened on my son and d-in-l’s wedding anniversary day. What can be a better gift?

Pay Anything You Like

Sundaram Venkatesh

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