The State of Legal Consultation in Navi Mumbai

People who know me closely know that we have been trying to buy a house. We struck a resale deal sometime in the middle of 2018 and have ever since been meaning to move to this new apartment. Unfortunately, there has been little progress since we registered the sale a few weeks after the vocal agreement. While I know that it typically takes a good three months for a property sale to go through fully – considering the roles played and snail-paced actions by organizations like CIDCO and NMMC as well as the primary housing society’s co-operative – there is one new entrant that I would like to nominate in this list of ‘delayers’: legal consultation.

Property lawyers who run consultancies in almost all nodes in Navi Mumbai have become one of the biggest role-players of property deals. They know the ABCs of these property laws and usually have contacts with officials of the aforementioned organizations, which acts in their favor. There is hardly any property deal that goes through without the involvement of an advocate who charge anywhere from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 per deal.

Their indispensability is what made us go to a top lawyer in one of the nodes closer to my new property. The fact that this guy’s name came up as the best recommendation from an immediate relative and since he didn’t know anyone else (the seller or his agents) associated with the deal made us hire him for a not-so-modest one-time fee.

In addition to this guy who I’ll call Mr. Sweet Talk, we also consulted two other top lawyers (second and third opinion) in the same node in the course of our struggle. Which, I believe, makes this a statistically sound rant. I hope you won’t disregard this citing utter generalization, especially if you live in Navi Mumbai and have plans to buy a house.

I know there are nice lawyers out there who work very hard to get their clients get what they want. So, if you are a lawyer and have a practice in Navi Mumbai, do not see this as a negative review. Instead, see for ways to improve your services so that another article in this same vein doesn’t pop up.

Here goes…

The Poor State of Law Consultation

I am not going to focus on my deal anymore, but rather talk about how legal consultation happens here in the city of Navi Mumbai, in general, and what you can expect if you find yourself in an advocate’s office tomorrow.

A Lawyer is Like a Doctor

Even though you hire a lawyer for their service, they treat you like a helpless patient. It is you who has to continuously check with them for updates and not the other way round. 

When in their office, you have to wait for some time to see them. If it’s a “top lawyer”, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. And there’s no concept of appointments either because they never respond to your calls. And their assistants are as useful as white crayon. In that regard, I have known nurses who have helped me get rid of common cold or a septic wound.

I never thought I’d have more issues consulting a lawyer for a small property deal than a doctor for a viral flu. But with a doctor you can still (sometimes) expect progress everytime you meet them. With lawyers, especially if it’s a property deal, expect a smile and “Come tomorrow, please!” And some are not even polite.

Blame Game is Usually Strong

If , for some reason, the deal surpasses the three-month period, these lawyers will have all sorts of reasons to give. In my case alone I have heard at least five different reasons for the delay (which, I should note, were told to me only when I reached out to Mr. Sweet Talk) and also different variations of that. Every time I visit his office, I get a new reason, so much to the point that these days I think of a possible reason myself and tell that to him upfront so that he doesn’t have to think up a new one. He often smiles sweetly.

Our deal is currently stuck because CIDCO decided to suddenly digitize their records. Since our apartment is in an old society, CIDCO does not have all the details (past and new owners’ names, unit area, etc.) in its database. So, when a dumb buyer like me registered the apartment, the society’s file was opened, which triggered CIDCO. They put the responsibility on us and since then I have not been singing praises of the organization, the society, the seller, and mostly, of the legal hire whom we already paid in full.

So, when the society’s NOC is ready, the CIDCO finds an issue with it. Then the NMMC – which was then busy with the Swacch Bharat Mission – gets involved because CIDCO wants to dot all the i’s and cross all the q’s. Then the NMMC takes its own sweet time and then Mr. Sweet Talk goes on a week-long holiday because it’s Diwali and his assistants have no clue what to do. Then our plans to move in in 2018 goes out the window and here I am writing this article.

Competition Howls

If, in a situation like this, you decide to take a second opinion, there will be a dozen lawyers who will promise you the moon. They will all talk like they own CIDCO – without even studying the matter – and before you know it, they will divert the conversation to money. That’s your cue to get out of their office and walk out of the reception where hordes of helpless patents are waiting to get the delaying treatment or ripped off.

When it comes to actual legal work, a very few of them stand out. And Mr. Sweet Talk was supposed to be one of those few. Yet, when it came to a one-in-thousand case – like ours – even he, for a small amount of time, took out the white flag. The main reason is that he had already quoted his price and taken it and now the work was looking like it demanded more of his time and resources. I have heard him utter something about the money at least two times since we hired him and I’m sure he will speak about it again.

But the good thing is that he has not shown any interest for more money because once we asked him. I even had a tiff with him for having delayed our deal for close to five months and that is when things got murkier. Another reason why I’m writing this today.

Final Thoughts

The state of legal consultation is skewed, to say the least. You have these top players like Mr. Sweet Talk who know the real estate industry inside out and yet fail to wrap their services around it in a good package. Because client satisfaction is least of their needs or worries. They know that one unhappy client is not a problem against five satisfied clients. And the flow of new clients is not an issue either because everyone is a real estate agent today.

If you are in Navi Mumbai and decide to buy a house as a common man, you can expect issues from your new society, the CIDCO office, and the NMMC office. Some will be warranted, some will be not. And then there is this new menace of self-obsessed property lawyers who will do everything in their will and whim to make it a bad experience for you. Goodness help us ordinary property buyers.

I once sent a one-liner message to Mr. Sweet Talk that would hurt him for generations to come and his reactions when I met him later that day were priceless. I am not someone who believes in the phrase “tit for tat” but I think I laughed a little that day when we walked out of his office as he promised us again that he would complete the job he was hired to do. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash

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Rethinking Movie Disclaimers

I was watching V A Shrikumar Menon’s Malayalam-language thriller Odiyan (2018) last day and I couldn’t help but think about the disclaimers that flashed on the screen. While I have noticed the disclaimer “Violence against women is punishable under law” in plenty of other recent films, it is only now that I thought about it in length.

I understand why there is a need to add that particular disclaimer (added to a scene where Prakash Raj’s character is forcibly holding Sreejaya Nair’s character’s jaw by his hand) – especially in today’s sensitive landscape where violence against women has shot up unnaturally – and how it satisfies and suggests the country’s various art control and regulation boards into believing that their job is done, but what stumps me is the singularity of it all. Why do we restrict the disclaimers to only certain elements? Why only women, cigarette smoking, and animals?

Why do we append these less-than-useless disclaimers in movies when we know that there are other bigger reasons that cause these very things that we are trying to eradicate? Why do we think that these disclaimers will have a considerable impact when no one even takes them seriously other than those who mandate it who, by the way, I’m told, often look at these disclaimers when they don’t have access to porn? 

Plus, we all know that not a single smoker has kicked the butt after watching that horrendously produced anti-smoking disclaimer, now starring Indian cricketer Rahul “The Wall” Dravid in the performance of his lifetime.

So, here’s a list of common disclaimers that we all have seen and got irritated by when at the movies and how they should be if we were living in an ideal world.

Movie Disclaimers in an Ideal World

If there is a need to add disclaimers in movies (restricted to Indian movies), I would love to see these versions over the current ones:

  • Not all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is not purely coincidental.
  • No one was harmed during the making of this film.
  • Culpable violence against all genders is punishable under law.
  • Smoking, much like living in a polluted city and other 87 acts, is injurious to health.
  • Intoxication is injurious to health.
  • Not following the rules underlined in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is punishable under law.

I know for a fact that as long as we are sensitive about art, this new edition of movie disclaimer texts will never be accepted. My future son already knows this. But I’m still hopeful.

What are some other disclaimers that takes the fun out of your movie-watching experience? Let me know and we will edit it a bit. TN.

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David Ehrlich’s 25 Best Films of 2018

Video countdown of the 25 best films of 2018

I always look forward to Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich’s annual countdown of the best of world cinema. For me, it acts as a starter to the month-long celebrations leading up the New Year, which mainly involves best-of lists about almost everything.

I just completed skimming through Kottke’s 2018 gift guide (helped me for my Secret Santa activities this year including Redditgifts), the New York Times’ list of best films of 2018, and Goodreads’ list of best books.

I know there are many more to come, but for now, let’s get overwhelmed by this 13-minute video extravaganza. The film at #1 is a surprise for me, but then I have not always agreed with Ehrlich’s lists. For me, it’s about getting a rush of creativity by just watching it – the visuals, the music, the vivid shots all sewn together like a masterwork. I have tried to mimic this a few times in the past. (This one for The Review Monk in 2016.)

I’m glad to have caught at least couple of these films at MAMI 2018 (which I’m yet to summarize, by the way), especially Roma and Widows. I also watched Burning, Madeline’s Madeline, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. And that’s just only five.

Enough of me talking, now go and spend 13 minutes of your life watching this brilliant encapsulation of world cinema of this past year. And maybe wait for my own rendition of the best of Malayalam cinema. Maybe.

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Endorsing Redditgifts

Last day I came across Redditgifts, the annual gifts exchange program by ‘the front page of the internet’. And after signing up for its Secret Santa program, today I thought I will endorse it on my website. Because not many people know about it.

I dig the idea of gifting random people. Buying a gift and making a thoughtful effort for a person you don’t know sitting miles away, probably in a different country, living their own life sounds fascinating to me. And if you think about it for a minute it might feel fascinating to you too.

I think everyone should participate in it or anything similar; if not for the art of giving, just for the feels. I also recently called out people who do not participate in their workplace’s Secret Santa program. And my case for it has to do with our increasingly isolated lives.

Some days when I’m feeling low, if there’s one thing that keeps me in high spirits, it is waiting for something that I am expecting. It could be a book or some food I ordered or even a day when I’m meeting my friends. The act of waiting for something – something pleasant – is what I would like to endorse here. And Redditgifts feels like a driver of that act of waiting.

The minimum amount you have to spend is $20 – which is not much even if you are naturally forced to convert it to Indian rupees – and if you are lucky, you could get matched to international participants as well. Surely, it does not mean you will have to ship a gift back to another international participant. Redditgifts’s algorithm tries hard to match you to participants of your country.

Such gifts exchange programs can act as a driver of a sense of community in us. Publicizing your generous charity work may help you save on taxes and get likes on social media, but they won’t make you feel good. On the other hand, Redditgifts will. Here are some photos from past exchanges.

While Secret Santa is the only exchange currently available, there are a lot of other exchanges that happen throughout the year. For instance, for Indians and the Indian diaspora around the world, there was this Diwali 2018 exchange that happened in October. You can check out more of them at this link (if you do decide to sign up, use this link so that I get an extra credit) – http://www.redditgifts.com/?inv=E9qC. TN.

Signups for the Secret Santa program ends November 26. So, hurry!

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Why I Pursued Master of Arts After Bachelor of Engineering

Because I had always wanted to do something in the humanities.

The long answer is a combination of several interests I racked up over the years since I first signed up for Engineering. I don’t blame the education system, but it was personally a tough call for me to choose what I had wanted to do with my life career-wise at the age of 15. I was living in a bubble to take a wise decision that would capitalize on my inherent talents and interests. So, I did what the rest of the world did. Chose a path that was common and signed up for a four-year diploma course in Industrial Electronics.

This is a short summary listing the different reasons why I chose to pursue MA after doing my Bachelor’s in Engineering (BE).

I Have a Penchant for Writing

The initial years of my diploma were when I first started writing. Thanks to the internet, I was free to write and publish anything without anyone telling me not to. One thing led to another and by the end of the course, I was a seasoned writer. I wrote beautiful trash but at least I was good at publishing it.

It was a few years later that I realized that I had a thing for writing. It came naturally to me once I began blogging. The problem was that I was not reading anything, which made my writing read like a content mill product. No one reads (and still doesn’t) in my family and it would be a cliche if I said I magically caught up with reading since childhood like they show in the movies.

My writing – although looked good to me – was ridiculous from a universal readership’s point of view. I realized this when I got rejected by a couple online magazines where I had pitched for freelance writing gigs. One of the editors was too vocal about the reason why and so I knew.

After the diploma came BE and before the second year was over, I knew I wanted to explore something else. Something other than Engineering.

I Read

My aspiration to be a good writer led to me chasing books. While men (boys?) my age chase something else, which I did give a few tries and enjoyed, I focused on reading. I started reading newspapers, books, magazines – whatever I could get my hands on. I even remember the time I told a job interviewer how I tended to read everything – even the text on sleeves of shampoo containers while taking a bath. He took it seriously and asked me to read his face.

MA after Engineering

I chose literature books over engineering books. / © Nicole Honeywill

I first started reading when one of my maternal uncles handed me a semi-fictional thriller book, Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. I so fondly remember its plot details, and above that, the joy of reading. But, more than the joy, what I took home that day when I completed reading that book was general information. The book gave me a little more idea about espionage, the CIA, how foreign government intelligence works, and who Charles de Gaulle was.

This little conveyance of specific information about specific things in the world from yellowed sheets of paper into my mind made me fall in love with reading. And today, I spend a good time reading every day. Which has directly impacted what I write and the way I do it.

I Want to Know the History of the World

I think it is Marco Polo’s travelogue, an online course titled “The Importance of India”, and my English professors who should collectively be blamed for my healthy interest for the general history of the world. Both reading and writing about random stuff also contributed to it, but I think that course – which I did not complete – was the main reason I began reading more about the history of humanity’s existence and associated activities.

One time I even asked a lady – a friend’s sister – out for coffee so that we could discuss the meaning of life. Maybe it was the way I framed the request but I don’t think I have had a longer conversation with her since then. Maybe you should not use WhatsApp to ask people out.

I want to know more about the origins of religion, money, and many other things. What is the meaning of life, how should I react to a particular incident in life, how do I deal with people I don’t agree with, how to ask women out, why and how is Trump president – everything that makes the world as it is right now. And I believe the only way to do it is to study literature.

Yuval Noah Harari’s account of the history of humankind, Sapiens, is an excellent prologue to the complicated answers to these questions, but I am more interested in the materials that he used to write that account. I would only get closer to them if I did something like this.

I Want to Be Better at My Job

People who know me know that I want to be a copywriter. And my current job also entails some kind of writing. There are several ways to be good at it, and last I checked I am doing all of them simultaneously. Signing up for an MA course was definitely on the list, and about two years ago, I told my mom.

 

And those are some of the biggest reasons why I pursued – or rather, pursuing (I’m in my second year right now) – Master of Arts in English Literature two years after I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. I used those two years to think through the pros and cons of making the career switch and I am glad I made that decision.

(I took the liberty to leave out another big reason – I failed to land an Engineering job that would pay my bills – from this list because let’s try to look at the positive things, shall we?)

People are often stumped when I tell them about this switch, but I think I will send them this article from now onwards. I hope they won’t mind me using WhatsApp. TN.

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  • about me

    Tejas Nair is a freelance copywriter based in Mumbai, India. He writes about cinema, literature, current affairs, culture, and society. He manages search-based digital campaigns for Publicis. more »