“12 it is,” I said, and hung up on Adel, my trusty real estate agent from ERA. It was 11:05am and I was still in my PJs checking email and rounding up some work. I’ve been flat hunting and in Cairo that spells chaos. After over 3 weeks, of searching, calling and emailing, things were starting to turn my way. This being the latest update.
After some replies here and there, a couple of calls, it was 11:35. Time to get dressed. I dropped the work in my home office and stepped into my bedroom, startling Spotty, my cat, in the process. Spotty warbled and gave me a reproachful look and turned his back on me. I just shook my head and ignored him.
Looking through the pile of clothes, I quickly picked out a pair of dark jeans, a light colored shirt and a sweater. It was cold out and I needed to look a bit chic for the landlord. It goes easier that way.
A scrub, soap, a wash and 2 missed calls later, I was on my way, if a bit late. “I’m right besides the Mobil station on Khalifa el Maamoun,” I lied smoothly to Adel on his 3rd attempt at reaching me. My conscience twinged a bit, but I rationalized it by observing that I was about 300m from where I said I was. It was a passable exaggeration. I smiled to myself and ran the next red light.
Checking out the location afresh, I noted the traffic and thought once more if this would be such a good area. The traffic was passable, but the parking might be a mite tough. I swung right into the slip lane and found myself a parking spot. That wasn’t so hard. There were 2 supermarkets nearby and pharmacies. The fast food restaurants, which I wasn’t planning on using, were about 4 mins walk from where I’d parked. I rang up Adel.
“Hey, I’m parked right next to the Family Market. Where are you?”
”Right besides the Metro supermarket…. I see you,” and he waved. I waved back.
"Looking chic! What’s the occasion?” I remarked at his dressed up look. He smiled, “Et faddal.”
“So, tell me about this place!”
”It’s nice. Well furnished, and on the first floor. We’ve talked to the landlord and he’s got someone who’ll open up the flat for us. It’s right below his office.”
”Hmm… alright. How much does he want for it?”
”About 4,000. But why don’t we have a look?”
Here goes Adel again, pushing my budget. He had another fellow, Emad, with him. Emad seemed friendly, and smiled pleasantly, introducing himself. I shook his hand and followed him up the stairs. “The bell works,” he remarked after a moment while we waited on the landing. “And so does the light,” I added with little humor. He got the message and excused himself to check out where the guy had got to. He returned with a key and opened up the apartment.
Marble floors. Wow, I thought. And the rest of the apartment was quite a delight too. The walls were really well painted and the furniture was quite tasteful. I checked out the bedrooms and the bath. The bath seemed a bit small, but the kitchen was fine. Not too big, but spacious and he had a washing machine. 4,000. Hmm…
It was a great flat. The view from the balcony was good. The location was great, and the furnishings were fine too. I think it was a bit better than what I had expected and for the price, I really didn’t feel like arguing. However, it was beyond my budget. I tried explaining my concerns to Emad. He smiled and gently cut me off, saying, “It’s really up to you. Name your offer and we’ll propose it to the guy.” I couldn’t. I declined and we walked out.
Saying goodbye, I headed towards my car thinking of the various offers in my head.
“Kailash!” the shout roused me from my thoughts. I looked right. It took me a moment to figure out the owner of the smiling face. Peter! I waved at him and he stepped out of his car to say hello.
“What are you doing out here? Strolling?” he asked.
”Nyah… apartment hunting. Gotta move out of my current digs and I had an appointment here.”
”Who with? Was it the apartment near Metro?”
”Yep. How did you guess?”
”Yes,” I said looking even more startled.
”It’s mine!” Peter exclaimed explaining that he’d gotten a call from the guys from ERA and got caught up with errands so couldn’t make it to the meeting.
“Small world! They said someone was checking out the place, and found the price a bit steep. It would’ve been awesome if I’d made it for the appointment and found you there!”
”Yeah, sorry about that. I really thought it was a well-priced place, but just beyond my budget.”
”Really? You think it’s well priced? It’s been sitting empty for the last 3 months.”
I perked up a bit at that.
”You really should think about the pricing then, Peter. I mean, you’ve lost 3 months rent. You could’ve shaved off the price a bit.”
He pulled out his mobile and did the math. “Yeah,” he smiled ruefully. “I guess I’d have been able to give 750LE off.”
”Well, there you go then. I’m sorry it was out of my budget.”
I closed it there and told him that I had a meeting to rush to – which I did. Driving home, I wondered what that’d be like, to rent a flat from Peter. My current flat belongs to another good friend and I’d had a blast. I guess I could look forward to something similar with Peter. But it was beyond my means and it’d be tough finding a flatmate who’d share my appreciation of Heliopolis. I’m still looking until Feb 16th when I figure out whether I’ll get the flat in Mohandiseen.