Room-mate roulette: There’s a good and a bad side to living with strangers

  • Nishtha Juneja, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jan 08, 2015 14:37 IST

Living with a new person is a big step. What if you don’t get along? What if you don’t like the same TV shows? What if calling your friends over turns into a problem later? Yet, in a city like Mumbai, where rents are so exorbitant that living alone isn’t always an option (and buying a place more like a distant dream for many), youngsters new to the city end up sharing space with complete strangers.

But often, living with a room-mate isn’t just a way to save money, but also a life-changing experience — in ways both good and bad.

We speak to youngsters to gauge the different sides of having room-mates — from making friendships for life, and learning to make adjustments, to even negative, or unpleasant, experiences.

Building a connection
Shibani Mutreja, 22, moved to Mumbai from Noida, NCR, four years back. At her PG (paying guest accommodation), she ended up with a much older room-mate. “She was 20 years older than me. Although I knew her, as she taught me in school, sometimes we didn’t have anything to talk about,” says Mutreja. But moving into a flat with two younger girls didn’t help either. “By then, I was working, while they were both students. One of the major challenges was adapting to their lifestyle. Our ideas of partying and having a good time varied, which is where we had different views,” she adds.

Others, like Siddhant Mahajan, 23, have been luckier. An aspiring actor from Delhi, he lives in a spacious Versova flat with a school friend. “I am a calm person, and so is my room-mate. We give each other space, and rarely fight,” he says.

Living with a school or college friend doesn’t guarantee a great experience, but compromises go a long way in ensuring that all room-mates are happy. “I would stay alone in a flat in my college days, but last year, I moved in with a close friend from college,” says Rohit Kumar, 25, who hails from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He adds, “It didn’t go well initially because she had a problem with me playing music in the morning or having friends over. But I didn’t give up. I started listening to music with headphones on instead, and when my friends would visit, I used to ask her to join in.”

Ups and downs
Raman Mishra, 26, who came to Mumbai from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, has stayed in multiple hostels and even a single room with 40 other boys in his six years here. Now settled in a flat in Colaba, he says, “What matters most when you live with someone is their habits — smoking, drinking, sleeping schedule, etc. Their routine has a direct impact on your life as well.” Mishra adds, “Sometimes, you have to set ground rules and give each other space. For instance, if my room-mate has a friend staying over, I step out of the house.”

However, it’s not rosy for everyone. Aishwarya Singh, 21, who hails from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, has been living in a PG at Pedder Road for almost four years. “I don’t get to choose my room-mates. Sometimes, I made good friends, but with others, it became difficult to adjust,” she says, adding, “Some would keep their food in their bed box till it was covered in fungus, and pick up fights over small issues. Once, my room-mate fought with me because my clothes were on her bed. I felt the issue could have been dealt with differently.”

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