No visitors! No posters on the wall! No loud music! No iron or electric kettle to be found! Or else your deposit will be fortified. These are just a few obnoxious rules of living in a PG.
Probably the only place where the guest pays for living in a ‘shrinking box-size prison’ called Paying Guest accommodation, in short, a PG. This description may seem a little exaggerated but the emotion behind it is shared by many around.
Students and job aspirants come to Delhi from around the country in search of better prospects. The overloaded walls with PG advertisements, in every nook and corner, welcome these aspirants with a surety of desired hospitality.
Little do they know, that their dreams are feeding a potential business for property dealers and owners in the city. Especially with the admission season picking up after declaration of results of various courses in Delhi University (DU) and other eminent institutions – the fact that most DU colleges do not provide residential facilities, increases the demand for PG accommodation. The experience of many suggests that the quest to find a decent place to live is as arduous as securing admission to a good college.
“Students have some special needs that are difficult to meet. Renting out to students is a headache as it requires more security and regular maintenance. Young boys and girls come here every year in search of ‘a home like atmosphere with all facilities from food to WiFi, which obviously pinch pockets more than just an unfurnished room on rent,” a property dealer in Lajpat Nagar said.
“We want our kids to be safe in this big place, so we prefer PG over flats. Especially for girls it’s better to live in PG. The charges are a little exorbitant, but we cannot compromise on their safety,” said a mother whose daughters are studying at Ramjas College.
Students living in PG accommodation have some horror stories to share. Priya Choudhary from Bhilai said, “In the blistering heat of summer, I roamed around various localities to find a peaceful place to prepare for the civil service exam, who would have known it would be such an onerous task. Since I am from a lower middle-class family money was the biggest constraint. The only places that were within my budget were in the outskirts. I ended up sharing a big hall like a room with six other girls, I didn’t have any option at that hour.”
Some get lucky in their PG hunt, while for the rest it is an endless search. Suchi Singh, a student at Maharaja Agrasen College speaks about her “unlucky” experience, “It’s been five years since I moved out of my home initially for graduation and then higher studies, I am yet to find a decent place to live. After every six months or so, I keep switching places which do not burn a hole in my pocket. Most of the so-called PGs are nothing more than rat holes where there is no proper light or ventilation”.
Another student Pooja Gupta said “Nobody is concerned about your needs or comfort until or unless you can pay them on time. Leaving a PG is just as difficult as finding one in the first place. When one has to move out suddenly one can forget about getting back the security money.”
Kaustubh Khanduri a current resident of Sarita Vihar said: “Before moving to Sarita Vihar, my friend and I looked at options in Kalkaji, Govindpuri, and Lajpat Nagar as we got fed up of living in the PG and wanted some freedom. During the search, we had to deal some real shady dealers.”
“We rejected many places because the entrance to the apartments was through the kitchen and it
was too narrow for even a chair to pass through, let alone other stuff,” he added.
PG owners find ingenious means to get hapless students to fork out more. Some use cardboard walls to create three rooms out of one. Some don’t even show that courtesy and put curtains in place of doors that too, in PGs for girls. On being asked about the absence of the door a PG owner curtly said: “Girls here are fine with this if you have a problem look somewhere else”.
The scenario is brighter in Gurgaon and Noida. Rishwa Amaranth resident of Gurgaon says, “ Even though I have to travel a bit more, living conditions are far better in Gurgaon. The PG owners here are more attentive to the needs of students and working executives. It’s easier on our pockets too.”
Recently a student community called Pinjra tod prepared a list of PG accommodation which should be blacklisted as they are unfit for living, such initiatives would help out-station students avoid these pigeon holes.