Living In China- Memoirs 2
Renting An Apartment
Let’s come back to our nearly forgotten topic of renting an apartment to a foreigner. Besides getting a good rent regularly, it’s a status symbol, kind of enviable achievement, something that one can wear like a badge or a medal. But there are certain requirements that the owner must meet before expecting any foreigner to hire his apartment. First of all, he/should be able to find a foreigner, which everyone in China can’t. In big cities maybe, it is not difficult to find them, at least see them on the streets or in Plazas. True, many of them maybe tourists, but in small towns like Gaogang, it is rare to find a foreigner. Those a few like me, who come here to slog, have no time to pose as tourists or go about looking for apartments to take on rent.
BTW, it has just occurred to me that in comparison, too few foreigners, who have come on employment, can be seen in Indian cities, other than perhaps the four Metros, Bangluru and Hydrabad. I am not sure actually, I have not travelled around in India, not much, but my impression is that mostly in India, the foreigners come for sightseeing, spiritualism and yoga.
In contrast, in every city of China you can find dozens of them. That is certainly because of China’s industrial policy, of business at any cost, except a compromise on national security and integrity.
But, that doesn’t make one feel stifled. It is better to have no media than to have one that churns out trash. The media that spreads hatred in society, creates atmosphere of suspicion and fears in the name of freedom of speech is like an insidious disease spreading through the unity of the nation, poisoning one cell after the other, till it kills. Here, the media plays just one song and that is of China, marching ahead. It speaks of achievements of China, of progress of China, of love for China, of beauty of China. Every frame on the T.V. inspires, motivates, love for China and every spoken word extols, praises, glorifies achievements of her people.
Today, China is not only making any product you name, it is also being innovative by investing in R & D. It has come to that second stage of development that Japan was in the Eighties. It is following the footsteps of Japan, it hates to be compared with.
Finding a foreigner is not a criteria for progress though, but to a common man it is indicative of some initiative, of some development underway. Even if the slogan “Make in India” is made the central theme of industrial policy of India, to make that happen we do need the foreigners to come and set up business. And for making that happen, we need the conducive atmosphere. In a country where there is a “Bandh” (lock out) or a Hartal (Strike) every other day, for one reason or the other, and the people in their show of anger, start setting everything in sight on fire, how can we expect the foreigners to come and set up their shops?
If we are going to make concessions on the grounds of caste and religion and play politics with every situation, then we must also replace the Tiger (mascot in Make in India) with a Cat. If we are going to continue to promote the undeserving, even if they come from the so called Creamy Layer of the classes that enjoy the quota benefits, just because their ancestors were prejudiced against, then the nation will continue to bleed talent and the likes of Trump will have no compunction in barking about “Theft of Intellectual Property”.
Second thing that we need to have in our country is Ease of Business, in reality and for that, we have to bring in Transparency and a corruption free environment. The people who were demanding money for pushing files are a disgruntled lot now. Where ever you have tried to introduce your E-business model for ease of work, there are glitches and snags there. The person standing at the window to convince the disinterested clerk of his existence could might as well be dead, if he/she can't prove that he is alive, by providing a bunch of documents required to be attached with the application.
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They think they do you a favour. They have every right of asking the people for all the documents, relevant or irrelevant, because they are going by the procedure and they want to stick to the procedures because there is no incentive in bypassing those and there is no monetary gain in sight against the risk their job entails. It all translates in to one thing- harassment. Harass the bloody client till he dies on the road near a huge signboard bearing portrait of a beaming leader with folded hands and a crude couplet created by a disinterested bureaucrat written on it-
(The Government gave the slogan
Serving every citizen is our first duty)
Getting a Foreigner for hiring the apartment
Thirdly the apartment should be well furnished. There should be a hot and cold running water in the bathrooms and kitchen and the bathroom should have a heater ( a must from my wife's point of view). There should be an A/C at least in one bedroom and one in the living room and above all there must be a WIFI connection. Besides good upholstery, furniture, utensils and crockery in the kitchen, a Washing machine, Water filter/dispenser are some other desirable things which attract the foreigners are bare minimum essentials. Some kind of direct to home Satellite TV service is also a pre-requisite, though I doubt if uncensored TV access is made officially available to the foreigners.
I am talking from our point of view or of the foreigners, who can afford to pay a better rent than most people in the neighbourhood are willing to shell out. Good rent also is a subjective thing. In big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, whereas you can get only a modest two room accommodation for 6-7000 RMB, in small places like Gaogang, one can get a good, spacious three bedroom flat for under 3000 Yuan.