Monday, January 25, 2016

"The Real Estate of Things" by Nitin Deckha

The Real Estate of Things
by Nitin Deckha

The Real Estate of Things is currently on tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. Author Nitin Deckha stops by today to share a guest post and an excerpt from the book. You can also enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The Real Estate of Things is a comedic story about real estate, spirituality and politics in the sprawling, multicultural suburb of West York.
Fifty-something Shaku Sehgal is looking for a new lease of life. With two grown kids and a supportive accountant husband who gardens, she’s followed her best friend, Neelam, into the exciting world of real estate. While she dreams of becoming the premier realtor of West York City, a position currently held by the much envied, Ruth Leslie, Shaku’s languishing at her current brokerage, SuperStar Realty. 
To jumpstart her career, Shaku sneaks into a real estate conference and learns about a new redevelopment contest for a local derelict site. Part of the prize is to be an exclusive broker for the chosen new development. Shaku successfully pitches it to her brokerage, teams up with the young up-and-coming realtor, Jason Sevende, and they throw their hat into the contest. 
Soon, Shaku and Jason find themselves competing against teams across the city, including Shaku’s friend, Neelam and the doyenne of luxury realty, Ruth Leslie. Not only that, the contest draws the attention of global spiritual guru, Chakra Sahib, and the ire of a seemingly anonymous movement protesting and threatening to derail the whole redevelopment.
Join Shaku, Jason and the band of realtors as they confront obstacles and reflect on the meanings of success, love and friendship in this epic race amongst realtors, The Real Estate of Things.

Shaku felt Ruth’s careful appraisal, a flicker of tongue over teeth, before she deigned to speak. Meanwhile Shaku shook her hand, surprised by the taut firmness for such a bony appendage. It wasn’t the usual female version of a handshake that she had exchanged with Melissa. “Shaku, I’m Ruth. A pleasure.”
“That’s so kind, but the pleasure is mine, Ms. Leslie.”
“Please call me Ruth. I think we’re of the same generation, give or take a few years. I’ve got to get back in there; I’m making an announcement that might interest you. Stick around for a bit.”
Shaku watched Ruth cascade by, Melissa and the two men in tow. Except for a few dawdlers, the refreshment area had cleared. Shaku followed.
She wanted to sit down, and take it in. Alone with a hot cup of chai, with steamed milk and elaichi, Shaku felt giddy. She wanted to kick off the heels, change into track pants and savour this definite morsel of progress that had been thrown to her. She had just met Ruth Leslie, the grand maven of West York City real estate. Face to face. (Well, not quite, Ruth was a whole head taller, but nonetheless). They had shaken hands. Melissa might tell Ruth about her bus stop bench ad and perhaps, then, Shaku could ask for marketing advice. She was pulled back into reality by the commotion in the conference room and then she heard the slow, distinct tone of Ruth Leslie. She moved to the back of the room, sought a chair and sat down and pulled out her notebook, found a pen, and began to scrawl.
The mayor would be holding a press conference next week, where she would announce a contest. Contest. Shaku tried to tune out the ruckus escalating around her. The contest was to select the best real estate design and sales strategy for redeveloping the old Addison Mill, long sitting derelict near the shores of the West York River and north of Lake Forest Village. To build excitement and attract the best commercial and residential clients, the city was launching the contest to gain public approval and take West York’s redevelopment to a world-class level.
“Now I don’t have all the details,” Ruth explained over the din. “You’ll have to wait until the mayor makes the full announcement. In any case, I wanted to give you a heads up. I want to see as many teams from WYREC out at the press conference as possible. After all, we know what our residential clients want and what’s possible in West York City. Good luck everyone.”
Smartphone screens were lit as thumbs and fingers scrambled to catch the details of Ruth Leslie’s surprise announcement and locate any city missive about the upcoming mayoral press conference. The next speaker was waiting in the wings, silently fuming. It would be near impossible to get this audience, now more pumped than teenagers on Red Bull, to listen and pay attention.

Guest Post by the Author
My Inspiration for Writing this Book
Billboards and bus stop benches. Shining, happy, blemish-free faces beaming. The omnipresence of real estate transformations, from open houses and new constructions to teardowns and renovations.
I began getting the idea to write about the frenzy of real estate (re)development as emblematic of "how we live now" from (what I saw as) comedic billboards and bus stop benches of real estate "agents" in the suburbs in the city where I live. The agents – and I’ve learned since that the official term is either a broker (if the own the realty) or a sales representative - were a motley crew. Some were young and not-so-young, female and male, their names a smorgasbord of ethnicities and cultures. They seemed to symbolize what I was seeing around me – crops of condo towers and strip malls, burgeoning suburbs on former farmland, bulking, steroidal homes where once stood a quiet bungalow. Everywhere, it seemed, was being transformed by new real estate developments. Everyone around me, it seemed, was talking about real estate.
However, as much as I love the social novel, à la Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, I knew that my style of writing would seek out the comedic. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I value comedy for its insight into contemporary issues and social change. The transformation of neighbourhoods and the whole megacity around me by real estate – and the various issues that were related to it – from traffic congestion, environmental impact, rising social inequality and debt due to rising house prices – were certainly contemporary. I wondered: How to create characters through which I could explore and describe these changes in ways that would be entertaining and funny?
So, I went back to the billboard and bus stop bench and created Shaku Sehgal, the unlikely, greying, fifty-something heroine of The Real Estate of Things, whose trying to prove to herself, her friends and family, and to colleagues at her realty, that she has what it takes to be a top-performing realtor in her neck of the woods. Originally, I was going to write more about Shaku, her husband and her adult children; interestingly, as I wrote, there was less and less about her family (although her husband, Yash, is present throughout the book). Rather, I was writing more about the world of real estate that Shaku found herself in, from her colleagues and competitors to her clients and her journey as part of team that strives to win the ultimate redevelopment contest, which is at the heart of The Real Estate of Things.

About the Author
Nitin Deckha is the author of a collection of short stories, Shopping for Sabzi (2008). His fiction has been published in magazines, edited collections, and chapbooks and he has read his work across Canada, the US and India. In 2010, he was featured as part of the Canadian Writers in Person lecture series at York University, Toronto. Nitin holds a PhD in Anthropology and has taught social sciences for over a decade. More recently, he completed certification in Adult Training and Development (MCATD, CTDP) and crafts and leads learning and organizational change. He lives in Toronto.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Real Estate of Things by Nitin Deckha.