My 78-Year-Old Indian Landlord Named Rama

I figured it was time I told you about our current living situation. A grand adventure is never complete without a proper setup for what is to come. If this is indeed the setup for our adventures, then I quite honestly have no idea what I should expect from the future.

After two weeks of living in my friend’s basement upon arriving (she graciously let Joseph and I crash there while getting our feet under us), we stumbled upon a Craigslist post that said something to this effect:

I’m looking for a tenant to rent out my basement. Two bedroom, kitchen, TV, cable, internet. Rooms are furnished. Pets allowed. No lease, all utilities included – $800 a month.

Contact Rama.

After we tried calling her a few times (it was extremely difficult to understand her over the phone), we set up a time to come see the place. We drove through a residential neighborhood in a sleepy part of Nashville (it’s about 1 mile from Nashville West shopping center, which has a Costco, Best Buy, Target, Dick’s, Whole Foods…you get the picture) with a range of old brick houses on large plots of land. After passing her driveway, we circled back to embark upon the almost impossibly steep driveway to Rama’s house. We passed a gorgeous veranda she has between the driveway loop, and immediately Joseph and I looked at each other in astonishment. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

“I’ll be down in a moment,” Rama let us know once we told her on the phone that we were there. About eight minutes later – no exaggeration – she came down through her backyard and met us by her garage. In between a double garage there is a door that leads through a hallway sketchy enough to be in a scene of Silence of the Lambs. 

The basement itself was actually a pretty good find: false ceiling, a huge living space plus kitchen, a large two-person bedroom at one end, another bedroom at the other end, a bathroom, plus our own washer and dryer. And all furnished. Not the greatest furnishings by any means, and a 6’ 10” ceiling, but crappy furnishings versus no furnishings…you get the picture.

We moved in a few days before Joel arrived in late February. And the stories have only multiplied since then.

Rama is a four-foot eleven-inch 78-year-old Indian woman. She’s lived in the States since 1978 or so, and has been retired from her life as a doctor for a little over a decade. She has a fluctuating ten to twelve cats, a Great Pyrenees, over one thousand Barbies lining the rooms of her house (in their original packaging, of course), and four TVs with four cable boxes and four VCRs, on which she records a multitude of shows each day. Her catalogue of past primetime shows on VHS is extensive, to say the least.

Rama has been a nurse, an oncologist, a pediatrist, and several other occupations while in the medical field. She’s told us in her thick Indian accent, “Back then they just asked, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And then the company would give you free training to do it. So I did.” She was forced to retire due to her health problems, which have grown increasingly worse over time.

Rama lives alone in the house above us, and has people come over most days to help her clean up and do things around the house because she isn’t able to do simple things herself. A few weeks ago her friend was supposed to take her to the dentist, but became sick. I offered to drive her, which is a whole story in itself. At one point we found ourselves at Walmart after she had been given a preliminary dose of anesthesia at the dentist’s office, and I had to almost carry her back to my car. Like I said, it’s quite the story.

We’ve had to help her with her DSL, gather her cats, take her to the ER, fill her bird feeders, take her trash out, and fix her TV remotes, among other things. She keeps our lives interesting.

Pro: She likes an even 70 degrees, which means our AC is at a great level during the summer.

Con: This means the pet/jungle smell from upstairs (cats + an indoor greenhouse + years of dust buildup + cats) gets circulated down here any time the AC comes on.

Pro: She has poor hearing, so we can play music all the time.

Con: She has poor hearing :/

Rama is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Even if we go upstairs just to bring her groceries in from her car, she always offers us drinks and food, even though she can’t even prepare these things anymore. I look forward to cataloguing many more Rama stories here.

^ This and the first picture are of our front yard / veranda.