Thursday, November 15, 2007


Thank you for all the comments asking me to write. And thank you for continuing to check my feed. It made me feel guilty that I haven't reciprocated your feelings by checking my sitemeter in return. But there is a very good reason for that. Now that we have applied for adjustment of status and have a fairly good chance of staying on in this country for a longish period of time, we decided to finally put down some roots in this community. Maybe even extend a branch here and a shoot there. Sprout a couple of leaves. Perhaps develop some kind of pitcher-like contraption designed to attract insects, which would then fall into an enzyme pool at the bottom, get digested and assimilated into our fibrous stems. Those pitcher plants are fucking awesome.

Anyways what I am saying is this. We are buying a home. And we've been looking at homes for the past month or so. It is a hard business, but totally worth it. I've been in this country for over ten years now and I still do not have a place here that I can call home and which will, in turn, call me homeowner. For the past ten years, we've been following education and employment wherever they would take us. One Christmas I remember being asked by a colleague what I would be doing for the holidays and I replied, "I'm going home". He looked confused. And then I had to explain that when I said home, I did not mean the apartment I was living in at the time but back home to India.

But this exchange led me to wonder if there was something wrong with my mentality of apartmented homelessness. I went to another colleague, a British guy who's been here for about ten years now and asked him, "Brian, if you were to use the word "home", would you be referring to Philadelphia or England?" He replied "What?". It turns out he wasn't British after all. But if he had been British, I am sure he would have replied "England".

So we've been looking at a number of potential dwellings. We have not had a lot of luck so far. The problem might be that we are far too specific in our requirements. For example, my primary requirement is that the home be multiple-storied and have a back patio or deck facing woods that are densely populated with a variety of animals such as deer, bears, tigers and dolphins. There do not appear to be many homes in this area that pass this test so I will probably have to be satisfied with a back patio facing a tree clearly visible through binoculars.

My wife, on the other hand, has her own requirements. She wants her home to be spacious and well-lighted. As we go through the process of home-buying, we are adding other requirements as we come across them. For example, there's this radon gas that appears to make its home in American basements and causes lung cancer. We have decided to buy a home that is not full of this radon gas that causes lung cancer. It was a tough call but we made it. Then, the other day, it appeared that we had found our perfect home. It had a huge wooden deck facing a meadow full of trees with a stream flowing through it. The home was newly refurbished with a huge basement without any radon and it had hardwood floors in every room. It was the perfect home. In fact, it was all I could do to keep from writing a check then and there and the only thing stopping me was the fact that I did not have a check book with me, or a pen, or any money in my bank account, also there wasn't really a table in the house that I could use to support the checkbook while I signed my name.

So we decided to return the next day with a checkbook and a pen and a table. And then, on a whim, I decided to go to my trusty friend Google Earth (as well as Microsoft Live Maps who is still just an acquaintance, but is fast climbing the buddyship ladder) and survey the countryside that surrounded the home. Nice, it looked beautiful and green and leafy and beyond the green there were fields and beyond the fields there was a pretty little nine-sided structure that looked like a castle. I made a note to myself to go visit this castle after we moved in.

And then I zoomed into the castle and the castle turned into a number of squat fortified buildings surrounded by barbed wire with guard towers at all its nine corners and I had the curious feeling that I was parachuting into the Graterford Correctional Facility. For that is what it was. A maximum security prison, a place that is apparently home to the cream of Pennsylvania's criminal community, the best of the worst. Bye bye perfect home. I hope you get a good owner and I hope he buys a gun and I hope he keeps it loaded.

So that, I guess, was that. This weekend we will go see some more houses. Hopefully we shall find one and call it home.


ggop said...

How nice to see a post from you. I feel your pain. Silicon Valley real estate was also crazy until recently.
Visitors from the East Coast recoil in horror at the prices and the dumps we get for said prices :-D

Patrix said...

Glad to see you writing again. I almost wondered if you were part of that WGA picketing the studios.

Need your inputs on the Presidential Election as well on Curious Gawker now that Jon Stewart and Colbert are off air.

Anonymous said...

Prices of homes are falling, don't you think you should wait a bit? like 1 year or so ? Analysts say it is bound to decrease more.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Oh lord! I knew you were a fan of nature, but now I know exactly what prompted your question. We had the same exact requirements as you and Mrs. G and thankfully we found our home. Good luck, G. I know the process is long and difficult, but there is a home for you out there.

And I second Patrix's request.

Anonymous said...

We went through this process a few years ago. It's time consuming and you learn a lot in the process, but it's completely worth it.

One suggestion which helped us enormously - if you have not already done so, get an agent. A buyer's agent is a free option, and you benefit a lot in terms of knowledge of real estate, of listings and pricing.

You can also check home prices through the MLS website. Just my $0.02.

Anonymous said...

Funny artcle..made for a nice read.


Anonymous said...

Most Americans consider home to be where they grew up, so going home for the holidays for them means visiting parents.
Consider looking at new homes to get more modern tech which can translate into good lighting, eco friendly materials and paint, plus the building will be up to the new building codes. The older homes tend to be dark and dreary places and may also have asbestos/lead based paint etc.
The builder may throw in some extra stuff and you also won't have to pay the agents.

Anonymous said...

good luck Gawker! Finding the right home can be a long process. It took us almost a year to find our house, but we were glad we stuck to our requirements.

And remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Anonymous said...

Are u going to employ some service to mow the lawn pick the leaves, do the yardwork and blow the snow off or you doing it yourself?

gawker said...

ggop : Thanks. Yes, they say you people sacrifice half your paychecks to the mortgage deity. I dont know if that's true ore not but it makes me recoil in horror.

patrix : Thank you man, I appreciate it. I will try and jumpstart my other blog. I will first try and get The Daily Show back on the air though.

dinesh : Maybe if I buy a home and a million other people buy homes as well, the prices might start increasing again. That is what I am hoping for.

suj : Yes, and I was actually dismayed to see the backyard of my dreams belong to someone else hehe. But no fear, we have been looking at a place that might be everything we want. Hopefully something might pan out in the next couple of days.

lekhni : yes, a realtor helps a lot as we found out as well.

anon : Dhanyawad.

milan : Yes, we are lookign at mostly new homes so hopefully, our bodies will stay lead and asbestos free.

anjali : Thank you. And yes, I know what you are saying. We looked at a place whose listing claimed to have everything a buyer would want in a home. When we went to see it, the entire place stank of cigarette smoke.

bhad : We are planning to get a townhome. Other people will do the snow blowing, leaf gathering and grass cutting. I will sit and watch and quite possibly give them moral support.

zambezi said...

good to see you writing again. be thankful that you atleast have a choice with nature in it. imagine if you lived in my state. i am looking forward to the house warming ceremony.

gawker said...

i guess living 10 minutes from the city compensates for not having nature. i will let you know when it is time to warm my house.

RobRoy said...

Welcome back gawker. I was worried that it was my computer refusing to read any more of your posts. Fortunately, this was not the case. All is right with the world again.

gawker said...

Thank you robroy. One shouldn't worry too much. As they say, worrying never achieved anything other than causing worry to the worrier.