I think flat-hunting is one of those jobs that is most tedious, yet most adventurous, when done alone.
After one year in Calcutta, armed with my knowledge of Bangla (largely restricted to daily words like clothes, dishes, wash, pillow, etc.), I decided to hunt for a flat. Approaching brokers made me realise that my vocabulary got me nowhere in the world outside my home, and I took to saying that I did not speak Bangla at all.
One enthusiastic broker was excited at this rare opportunity to show off his Hindi, which bordered so much on Bangla that I was able to understand it despite his thick accent. He engaged me in long conversations and was delighted that I loved his Calcutta and the people of his land. Growing steadily more excited, he said, “You want an appointment, no?”
He smiled knowledgeably at me. “Students like appointments, correct?”
Bewildered, I made a non-committal sound. I did not really have any opinion on appointments.
“No, you don’t like anything you have seen so far,” said the broker, sympathetically. “I am sure that you will take an appointment.”
Far less confident than he, I followed him meekly until we reached a tall modern-looking building. The broker looked at my face with pleasure. “See, I knew it! All students, they don’t like the old houses. They like modern appointments!”
I grinned at him. “Yes, I like appointments!” I agreed, happily. “Could you show me some more?”