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Finding Beach Houses or Airbnbs in Pondicherry? Beware of These Two Scammers

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When my partner and I travel to a new place, we are always excited, but also skeptical. Finding guesthouses in India (or anywhere) isn’t the easiest thing to do. Especially when you travel year-long, stay in a house from a couple of days to weeks at a time, and are constantly looking for good homes or treehouses to put up at.

By September 2021, we had already driven the length of the country twice and had visited our parent’s home twice. Our Himachal trip had lasted four months. And three months at the beginning of the year was spent in Karnataka. Pondicherry was our final destination for 2021.

We arrived in Pondicherry at the beginning of October. Having shuffled through different homestays, hotel rooms, tree huts, cottages, apartments, and rooftop houses throughout the year, we wanted to slow down. The idea was to be at one place in one home for a few months and work on a few writing projects.

We had booked Sea Forever homely Airbnb in Pondicherry for the first few days (I don’t use Airbnb but we were booking at the last minute so I took what was available and affordable amongst Booking, Airbnb, and other platforms). Sea Forever was a warm home with gracious hosts. I would’ve loved to extend my stay there but the place was booked for long-term right after our dates. We shifted to a hotel nearby and started searching for longer stay options.

Airbnb is my least favorite place for searching accommodations in India (you can read in my travel resources post why). Airbnb terms and regulations favor the host irrespective of the situation, properties are falsely represented by the host, many properties are fake and are duplicates of other listings, and so on. Do open the linked post to know why you are at risk with Airbnb.

But Pondicherry stay options on Booking were dismal. Expensive hotels, resorts, and a few Auroville homes exhausted the Pondicherry Booking listings. None of the options seemed good for the long term. And we couldn’t find any extra information or host contacts on the internet for most properties.

We also checked out some Auroville guest houses but liked nothing for the price offered.

For example, an Aurovillian was renting his small glass-walled studio in his large bird garden for INR 35,000. The studio’s furnishings were old. Mosquito nets were put all around the studio. I asked if I could take the nets off from some glasses (that didn’t need it) to let light and air in. He said I couldn’t. As the house didn’t have any doors or separations inside, we couldn’t create two separate spaces for both of us there.

Let me save the rest of the details of finding places to stay in Auroville or Pondicherry for separate articles. As Booking and Auroville weren’t working out, we browsed Pondicherry accommodations on Airbnb. The site lists many Puducherry homes.

I contacted many hosts asking them to show us their houses because we were renting for at least one or two months. Our previous Airbnb experiences had taught us better than trusting the listing and booking a place without seeing it.

Out of the many hosts, one host Nahid Khan replied (linked is her Airbnb profile). She had eight listings on Airbnb. Her profile read, “I am a social worker, fighting to the equality between men and women. I have nine properties in Pondicherry, so do not hesitate to contact me to find the best place for your stay. I have beach house or cozy apartment, let me know what are your needs and I will accommodate the perfect place to make you fill like home.” Self-defense classes was one of the skills mentioned on the host’s profile. Nahid’s profile picture showed a kohl-eyed woman with a nose ring, tattoos, and bindi.

Nahid Khan sent us her phone number (in words as numerical contact details are blocked by Airbnb). When I called Nahid, she picked up immediately. She asked about my requirement and offered to show me her houses.

Nahid Khan had about 600+ Airbnb reviews and many of her properties had 4.5 rating. A good sign, yeah? She was not a super host though. (When I will look at her profile and reviews in depth later, I’ll realize I had made a mistake by reaching out to her.)

Nahid asked us to meet in thirty minutes at a location she had shared on Whatsapp. Driving through a maze of narrow alleys fringed with homes, shops, and two-wheelers, we arrived at the location.

We climbed up the house to find Nahid Khan sitting with a squat man. She hadn’t mentioned bringing anyone along. Nahid introduced that man as her business partner Asif Nazir. He wore beige trousers, a short-sleeved striped shirt, and carried a sling bag. Nahid herself was clad in a pink kurta pajami.

Asif Nazir looked straight into our eyes. He described the place to us, said their sole motive was to give us the best service, and told us to look around with the word “enjoy” tucked in at the end of his little speech.

That first-floor house was a small one-bedroom place with a tiny balcony, bathroom, kitchen, and living. Curtains made from Benarasi saris, bright glass-studded table cloths, and more saris as wall hangings swathed the house. An incense sizzled in the living. The walls were patchy. The narrow balcony overlooked a dense neighborhood. The paint coming off the bathroom walls and the mossy drainage outlet told us the house was pretty old.

My partner and I weren’t impressed. The duo wanted to show us more houses. We agreed to go with them.

Monsoon was at its peak. It started raining. We offered Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir to join us in our car (much to my dismay now). I had to move a carton of books, badminton rackets, and small bags from the backseat to make space for them. But we were pretty excited by the idea of finally getting a house we might like. That too for a few months. The four of us hopped from house to house.

In that mesh of narrow Pondicherry streets, all their homes were located nearby. Asif and Nahid kept repeating we were in White Town, a posh area of Pondicherry. But in reality we were in fishing villages on the other side of White Town (we would only know later). Kids played in the lanes. Scooters and bikes were parked in the middle of the street. Women washed utensils and clothes on the road. Groups of men in lungis loitered around. Arriving at every house was an achievement. But I was thrilled by the idea of living in a cultural neighborhood.

The properties were either the entire independent house or separate floors. We climbed the dingy stairs of three-storey house. Its bathrooms were shabby, walls were discolored, and gadgets looked old. But the same Benarasi curtains swayed on all windows and doors. Some of the wooden furniture looked antique. And a rumpled double bed on the terrace overlooked the ocean.

But something didn’t feel right in that house.

While I liked the second last accommodation they showed us, my partner liked the last one. The second last option was the second floor of another independent house. The second floor was a usual bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living. There was an outdoor garden. Old cane chairs and a glass table adorned the outdoors. An old fridge clung to the side of a wall.

The open garden sit-out and a view of the dense street below impressed me. A quiet place to sit in a green area is the most I’m looking for in a house (isn’t every writer?).

The last accommodation the duo showed us was a three-bedroom apartment with simple furnishings such as a sofa, double beds, and refrigerator. No Benarasi saris there. This last one was done by Asif Nazir, and the rest by Nahid Khan.

Before we took a tour of any house, Asif Nazir repeated they wanted to give us the best service. Then he would send us away with an “enjoy” as if we were going to a seafood buffet.

We found Asif’s behavior odd but brushed his weirdness aside as his marketing strategies. My research later brought me to many reviews by people who admitted Asif Nazir had cheated them with his salesmanship (more on that later).

But here’s a review by a customer who said Asif Nazir had sold her a fake sapphire at his handicraft shop.

google review of crafts emporium mission street handicraft shop pondicherry asif nazir fake scam shop fraud salesman.png

Asif Nazir and Nahid Khan quoted different pricing for all the houses. But nothing was below 30,000 per month. Electricity, internet, and drinking water were separate.

I asked the duo how they had so many houses. Asif Nazir replied they paid the owners huge sums of money to lease the places. They furnished and decorated the houses and rented them out.

Later the police will find out our ground-floor landlords — the real owners of the place — were getting 10k for the house for which we paid 35k to Asif and Nahid.

When we dropped the duo at their destination, they said they would show us one beach house the next day as it was occupied at the time. And as they knew I was a writer, Nahid Khan suggested I would like that beach house the most. Meanwhile, Asif Nazir repeated we should stay in one of their houses for a day or two to give them business in return for the time they had spent showing us around. But Asif wasn’t ready to offer any of the properties for less than INR 3k per day. He promised to adjust the balance from our monthly rent (but we hadn’t, yet, committed to renting from them).

We should have understood then. Asif had already planned that they could take a deposit and a few thousand in rent by renting to us for a day or two. And by what I’m going to tell you ahead in the article, you’ll understand Asif and Nahid never return any of the money they receive.

Here’s one guest review to give you a glimpse of Asif Nazir and Nahid Khan’s fraud (to be read in the following order: top left >> bottom left >> top right >> bottom right).

After a quick dinner, we drove back to our place. We had shifted from the hotel to a Booking homestay eZilla (more on the homestay Ezilla in this article on accommodations in Pondicherry, coming soon).

My partner and I discussed that Nahid and Asif’s houses weren’t the cleanest or well-maintained but we aren’t too nit-picking. My partner and I adjust to living without a gadget or machine so we didn’t fret about the stained old equipment in their homes (I’m writing this from an Auroville wooden cabin in which we live without a refrigerator, washing machine, geyser, fan, a mixer grinder, or any other common thing we use every day. Our outdoor squat toilet is roofless.)

We were also bound by our options. In the pandemic, most accommodations were shut. The open ones were poorly maintained. And we empathize with the situation of the hosts. (But we also wished they put in more efforts to tidy up and keep the places functional so that when the lost traveler finally arrives, she could feel at home and decide to pay.)

The next day we went to see the beach house. Nahid Khan told us the house had guests. She said they had taken permission from the guest to show us the place. But she and Asif Nazir knocked and no one opened the door. So Nahid asked us to go see the other garden place I was interested in again ( I had told her I wanted to see it once more).

We took our car. After the initial direction Nahid had given us, we lost our way. We kept circling in the lanes but couldn’t find the garden house. Nahid Khan called us repeatedly on Whatsapp and started shouting at my partner. She said she had taken time from the guests and asked us where we had gone.

Due to my partner and my disagreement at the time, we didn’t pay any attention to Nahid’s rudeness (of which we will see much in the future). But now I see how alarming it was to find your potential lessor yelling at you over a ten-fifteen minute unintentional delay. We quietly returned to see the beach house — the one we will end up renting.

Here’s another guest review on Nahid Khan’s Airbnb profile that says a lot about her attitude.

Look at the politeness of the guest even though the host falsely accused him and threatened to throw him out. And see the response of the host Nahid Khan on Airbnb who blames him (amongst many other things) for breaking the door. If a guest can break a door, then I guess the property will fall down any moment.

Nahid and Asif had said the house was in White Town. But I could see we were not in White Town but on its opposite side in a fishing community. The beach in front of us was lined with boats and rubbish. Fishermen peed and pooped on that beach, as we would later see. So even though you saw the ocean from the terrace of the house, there wasn’t any beach per se.

Rock beach is the nearest beach to the property. That house also comes up on Google as Rock Beach house. Don’t forget to read through the glorious reviews of the Rock beach house here. I’ve put many screenshots in the article of the most beautiful reviews, like these two below.

On the ground floor of the beach house lived the owners of the house. And the upper floor was the guesthouse.

The beach house had a living area, a bathroom (without a sink as we’ll figure out later), a kitchen, and a bedroom. Up the stairs, the terrace was made into a makeshift bamboo hut, with no toilet or sink, a mattress lay up a few wooden steps in the corner of the terrace, a dirty refrigerator simmered in one corner, and a glass-top table and cane chairs sat in the center of the hut. A hammock hung from pillars. And a few other chairs and dirty cushions were strewn here and there.

Outside the hut, a green garden whistled in the ocean wind. Another glass-top table with a long wooden bench accompanied the green plants. And when we stood at the parapet, Bay of Bengal billowed in front of us.

The blue sea took our breath away. The ocean was the only thing we could see as far as we looked. Flowing to the left and the right, the ocean invited us to admire it every day.

I could see that dry leaves rampaged the entire upper floor, cushions were damp, the chairs didn’t look sturdy, and the hammock should have been replaced years ago. Downstairs, the bathroom was far from shining, walls were discolored, all the kitchen slabs were grimy, and the dirty washing machine looked antique. The cupboards were full of tattered cushions, unused junk, and the cupboard of the main room was locked.

I asked Nahid Khan if she would get the place cleaned thoroughly. She said matter of factly yes she will. Asif Nazir promised to send the cleaning lady for three days so we can get the house cleaned the way we want. And then he added that the present guest had soiled the place and the almonds and other nuts they had soaked for days had stunk up the house.

If you find a house clean, you’ll get it clean. But if you find it dirty, you’ll always get it dirty. Any promises the hosts make are to pacify you, not signs of real action. Because if the hosts knew what thorough cleaning meant and cared for it, you wouldn’t find in their house a stained washing machine, the freezer not defrosted for months at least, and the discolored bathroom walls and floors. Short duration guests couldn’t defile the place so microscopically.

I knew this even then. But I know somewhere I was cheating myself because we didn’t have many housing options.

But should I’ve been punished for my neglect and desperation so brutally? Also, it is easier to connect the dots in the past and feel everything was transparent and we were fools.

The guest had gone out by then. So both of us and the two of them were alone in the house. An incense burnt in that house as well. In all the houses we had seen Nahid had asked her Amma (a colloquial name for women in Tamil Nadu) to rush to the house and light incense. The rushed incense burning should have been a hint too.

We all sat upstairs on the cane chairs. They told us to let them know as soon as possible because the place might get booked. The rent, they said, was 45k. We would get the best service and we shouldn’t worry about anything, Asif and Nahid repeated like professional real estate agents.

That evening when my partner and I sat to discuss we realized we didn’t have any other options apart from Nahid and Asif’s houses. The year-end was coming, and Auroville was getting busy already. Many Airbnb hosts hadn’t replied to our messages. Search on Booking website still didn’t show us any agreeable accommodation.

Though earlier my partner and I were divided in our choices, we both had preferred the beach house over the previous houses. The house had a sprawling sea view, shops were five minutes away, we could park outside on the street, the place was fully furnished, and we both had separate floors to sit and work on.

We decided to get the rent reduced to 35k per month as Nahid and Asif had been clear the place cost them a lot and they couldn’t go less than 40k. Before sleeping we messaged Nahid Khan the offer to pay 35k for two months. The next morning she called. I asked her if she was happy with the offer and she said, “Not really but we would talk when we meet.”

My partner was ready to go even further than 35k because he was tired of searching places by then. Finding a house in Pondicherry had been harder than in most other Indian villages and towns. Many Pondicherry homes with to-let boards had squat toilets, were unfurnished, and poorly maintained (how ironic as we are in a squat toilet place now). And I’ve written in this homestay guide for India that most homes overcharge and underdeliver so we had decided to not visit every homestay. But I had decided to not go beyond the offer we had given. Together with the other expenses, we were already overshooting our budget.

At the beach house, which was then vacant but still stank, Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir were waiting for us. An Amma moved around in the kitchen. When I complained about the smell, Nahid said the guests had left the place so dirty that even after cleaning, the smell hadn’t gone. They didn’t know if our offer included electricity and internet. When we said we would pay for those separately, they agreed to the price.

I noticed Asif looking at Nahid with this glitter in his eyes and for a moment, just for a moment, I thought they had gotten an offer much beyond their expectations. Nahid added she would give us a free gas cylinder and a bicycle. Asif firmly warned her to keep her promises for the entire stay. And I felt again that they didn’t expect us to pay beyond the initial 30k budget we had communicated to them. For a moment I saw they were elated with the offer but they quickly concealed their win underneath their thick skins.

I wouldn’t have gone beyond 30k. I wanted to give 60k for the two months but my partner didn’t want to lose the house by making such a low offer the duo might outrightly reject it or go for other tenants ready to pay higher.

Our experience in various guesthouses in India had taught us to never pay less than the host’s expectations or stretch so much so the host feels the deal doesn’t hold much value. Because when it comes to providing service or any other matter, a lower price harbingers uncomfortable situations with the host. But paying the host’s favorable price after some negotiation gives the guest some bargaining power on things later on.

I had given in to my partner’s wish to not go lower than 35. My partner was oblivious to the changes in the duo’s countenance and was happy his offer was accepted. We paid a token of 5k.

We agreed to pay one month’s rent and a 10k deposit upfront. But because we were also renting for the second month, they wanted us to pay the rent for the entire month. I declined. I would pay ten thousand extra as surety for the next month. So we were to pay INR 55k (35+10+10).

I told Nahid Khan to remove the junk and the tattered cushions from the cupboards, get the house cleaned, and provide us two more chairs to work. She agreed to everything. Asif Nazir again promised us they will give us the best service.

The next day we had to sign the agreement and make the payment. But we got ten minutes delayed in arriving at the beach house where Nahid had called us. She called and shouted as soon as I picked up. “You guys haven’t come I waiting for forty minutes and where are you” and so on.

I hung up. My partner and I looked at each other. We missed a hint there, again. But my partner and I were feeling bad for arriving ten minutes late; I don’t know from where had she conjured up the forty-minute delay. But people have bad days. And we needed a house. Period.

I should also mention here that I had Googled the duo. But somehow I had misread Nahid’s name as Nadia on Airbnb. Even when my partner corrected me, I searched for Nahed, not Nahid. Both the Google search didn’t give me anything. And I only knew the first name of Asif Nazir so I didn’t find any usable information about him.

I should’ve searched for both Nahid and Asif on other social media and rental websites too. But I wasn’t getting useful results and I was eager to start my writing projects. I quit searching. My partner didn’t doubt either one of them. He wanted to finalize the deal, pay, and move on. I also let go.

A note to self and every traveler — if you ever take a property on long-term, do remember to take the business cards or identification information of the landlords/lessors. Research about the people and make sure they have an authentic business, to start with. Read more on deciding a guesthouse in the linked article (coming soon).

We arrived at the beach house and read the agreement. Nahid Khan was waiting for us alone. She didn’t apologize for being rude.

I asked Nahid why the agreement was not on a stamp paper. She said non-stamp paper agreements are valid for short-term rentals. The agreement said we were taking the place for two months and mentioned the financials. It also listed all the furnishings and equipment in the house. Even chairs and cushions were mentioned in it. Above the list of things was written: “the items to be returned in same ways.” I asked Nahid the significance of that sentence. She replied, “that you would return us everything.” I laughed. Of course, I was going to return everything. But we were soon going to understand the meaning of that line.

I went around the house again, requested Nahid to get it cleaned, asked her to get some things fixed, and to get the extra stuff out. Nahid Khan agreed. While I was still hesitant, my partner took out his phone and started making payments to her in chunks for the entire 55k.

I didn’t want to make the full payment then. I wanted to pay when we moved in. But my partner always wants to pay to get the task over with and both the parties can move on with other work. But he doesn’t notice that most people don’t care about finishing transactions. They’ll make promises as long they don’t get the money. But once they receive the full payment, they don’t owe you anything and don’t stick to their words. I should’ve been more adamant about not paying rather than repenting about it now.

Another thing to remember: As I’m the more cautious one, I’ve decided to handle all financial transactions myself and only pay on the move-in day after everything is delivered as promised.

We paid the 55k and told Nahid not to hurry and prepare the house properly.

We had to move in on Monday, October 18. At 10:30 Nahid called us to come at 1 but we were already on our way as the shift-in time promised was 11. My partner and I showed up at 11:30 and took the house keys.

To my dismay, the house hadn’t been cleaned properly, the refrigerator wasn’t defrosted, the pungent smell persisted, the washing machine and the kitchen slabs hadn’t been wiped, the upstairs hadn’t been swept thoroughly, one cupboard was still full of tattered and stinky cushions, and the exhaust fan didn’t work. Nahid Khan had neither kept the chairs we had asked for nor replaced the filthy foot-mats and the broken kitchen dustbin. The house didn’t even have one tissue roll or any cleaning stuff.

While looking inside the refrigerator I mentioned something and Nahid Khan said if anything stopped working we will have to fix it. I disagreed and told her gadgets could break down due to years of wear and tear and I would only fix something if I broke it. To which she said, “yeah if you break something you fix it.” Something made me uncomfortable.

This Google review for Nahid Khan sums up a lot of my concerns.

Nahid promised to deliver the chairs, foot mats, dustbin, cycle, and other pending things later. And the cupboard with tattered cushions was to stay the same.

I asked Nahid to leave the cleaning lady behind but she said she will send her at 3 pm. The cleaning lady came later with another help. I had to ask them where to clean, how to get under the tables, and all. After forty minutes Nahid showed up asking why were they not done yet and what was taking them so long. I didn’t say anything.

Within the next few hours, we realized we couldn’t open the freezer door because it was frozen stuck, the upstairs refrigerator didn’t work, and that there was no washbasin in the house. I asked Nahid and she said she could neither do anything about the refrigerator nor the washbowl.

We made peace with the house. The next morning when I looked at my phone I saw five missed calls from Nahid. When I called her she said our car had blocked the garbage truck’s way so we had to move it. We had parked at the spot they had told us. Then she said what were we doing sleeping so late because the sunrise view from the house was amazing. Nahid added she couldn’t send the stuff that day and promised to deliver it the next day. I almost pulled my hair.

The next day I followed up with Nahid Khan and she sent the things by afternoon. The chairs weren’t like what we had asked for, the foot mats were the cheapest ones you can get, and the cycle was rusted and was delivered without its keys.

host Nahid khan airbnb review puducherry fraud host.png

Another Airbnb review of Nahid Khan and her glorious reply in which she blames the guest for breaking pipes in the house.

I don’t appreciate picking up the phone and following up after everything that should have happened on its own. With our previous interactions, I had understood that our requests or complaints won’t be met with reply and resolution but with ridiculous arguments and false promises. So I let everything go.

A few more days passed. By that time we knew the hand shower in the bathroom leaked. The flush leaked. So we kept both the taps closed all the time. The house still stank. The broom and other cleaning stuff were broken and hadn’t been replaced for decades. On a rainy day, water streamed down the cracks in the walls, flowed through the staircase, and drenched our entire kitchen floor.

Upstairs the bamboo hut leaked in places. The oven door didn’t close properly. All the little utensils they had left were burnt. All the four chairs had an unstable leg or the seat came off. And the washing machine stopped every time with a jerk giving an error code. We balanced the load and restarted it. But soon it stopped giving an error code again.

Within a few days, the gas cylinder got over. Nahid should have given us a full new one, but I hadn’t asked her so she hadn’t.

By that time Nahid, upon repeated request, had also sent us an email listing the items she had given us, the terms of the agreement, and so on. The emailed’s user name was Prem Azad. I wasn’t sure whose name the email was on, but I was busy and didn’t pay much attention to it.

Later my Google research told me Prem Azad is another alias for Nahid Khan (all the payments to the host also goes to a number with this name).

I had realized and accepted they had maintained the properties and the electronic gadgets much poorly than we had anticipated. Most of the things in the house were on the verge of breaking. And that wasn’t the pandemic neglect.

Customer reviews from several years complain how everything in Nahid and Asif’s houses was tattered, unmaintained, filthy, and something or the other always broke. The duo hadn’t cared for or cleaned in ages. Servicing was out of the question.

When a host claims every guest is lying, you see a trend there. When the guests say things are broken, filthy, and the host is rude, we see a trend again. The quarrelsome nature of the host Nahid Khan and the instinct to blame every guest for breaking things and lying is obvious in these Google and Airbnb reviews.

By then I was tired of messaging Nahid only to receive an incomprehensible reply in English (I wonder why she didn’t reply in Hindi) or to wait for her to call and promise a time by which nothing ever got done. If I called, she promised another time and that went on a couple of times. Soon she would start complaining that she had fallen from her Enfield bike and was still recovering, that a football had hit her jaw and she was on bed rest, or she would reply with a picture of her driving to Chennai when we asked why she hadn’t sent the plumber yet.

So we managed with what we had.

When the one month was coming to an end, Nahid Khan said she will come to the house to receive the rent. I told her I would pay online. (I neither had the time to entertain her nor did I want to.) She said she saw the house once every month. Then why didn’t you mention that in the agreement? I asked. She went on blabbering for some twenty minutes about things that didn’t make sense. I asked her to send a plumber and instead of the plumber she came the next morning.

In that meeting, I told her to not come the next time and I’ll pay online.

And then we made a big mistake. My partner wasn’t ready to move yet. The house with all its issues was still a place we had made our home and it gave us ample space to sit separately and work. Nahid had been asking us if we wanted to extend. And my partner and I agreed to stay on for one more month. Ouch.

I asked her if she could reduce the rent to 30k. After half a minute of silence, she agreed. I realized again that we had been overpaying.

But that time she asked us to pay 15k in advance. I didn’t agree to it but my partner was already making the payment. Ouch again.

When the plumber came in that evening he didn’t know any of the issues Nahid had pretended to listen in the morning. We explained again. He didn’t have money with him, and he asked us to pay. Nahid said she will pay us back. So we did. He fixed everything in such a way that the hand shower, the flush, and the tap all went back to their earlier condition within a week. And Nahid never paid us back. But when it was our turn to pay her (for example the electricity charges for which she never gave the bill), she called and messaged repeatedly as an eerie signal stuck on the television.

Nahid also visited once or twice to do something in the house. We had declined her request but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. 

Slowly we were arriving at the end of the second month. One morning the washing machine stopped working. After dreading coordinating with Nahid for a day, I called her up. She said she will send someone soon and asked us if we wanted to continue beyond the three months. I declined her offer. When I asked her by what time she would send the electrician she said she didn’t want to commit any time because that didn’t go well with us.

Nahid Khan didn’t send the electrician for three days even though we followed with her every day. On the fourth day, she asked us to contact Asif. He came with an electrician. They took the control board of the machine. In this meeting we told Asif we had been following up with Nahid for three days and she hadn’t replied and that mostly she was unprofessional. Asif said he will see what he can do.

We got back to our work. Then my partner came running upstairs with his phone on the speaker. Nahid Khan was hollering on the other end. I asked her what was wrong. She told us how could we complain about her to her business partner and so on. She blabbered on angrily. The duo has its way of turning its faults on to you. I hung up. Soon after the call I called Asif Nazir and told him Nahid was rude and we wouldn’t deal with her anymore. He promised we wouldn’t have to.

airbnb puducherry review host nahid khan fraud.png

Though you have read enough of the host Nahid Khan’s rudeness in the above screenshots, here is one more.

The next day around the afternoon — after many delays from their end — we got a phone call from Asif and Nahid. Nahid was shouting on the other end that we had broken her washing machine and we needed to fix it.

What was the error reported by the electrician? I asked.

She said, “short circuit.”

I told her I wasn’t going to pay for a washing machine which had been giving errors for the entire two months. The machine also stopped spinning, kept draining water in the rinse cycle, and so on. Nahid asked why didn’t I tell her about the issues. Because I have other things to do in my life, I said.

My partner had gone on an office call so I talked to them alone on the speaker. I recorded that call. But the way Nahid spoke about the cycle collecting rust outside the house, the solar light upstairs, and so on, I realized she was writing the whole screenplay to gulp our deposit money. Asif said Nahid could have cheated us by reducing the washing machine repair cost from our deposit so we should be happy she was telling us.

I said I won’t pay and hung up.

deposit not return of guests fraud nahid khan host pondicherry guest houses.png

Although we have read above how the host Nahid Khan falsely accuses guests of breaking stuff and make them pay, here’s another short sweet Google review that reiterates the fraud.

Asif had promised we wouldn’t have to interact with her but soon we realized (and also remembered Nahid saying once) that Asif was the maintenance guy and wasn’t really a business partner. So all decisions, or shall I say, frauds had to go through Nahid Khan. Perhaps Nahid worked with Asif only to use his marketing skills. Because she herself was ill-mannered.

Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir said so many other nonsensical things on that call that I realized we were in a fix. They also repeated the sentence “return in same ways” and said we had to return what was functional functional. Ahh! That’s what it meant.

So basically either we paid for everything broken in their house, get shouted at, and hold our breath until the queen herself decided we could breathe. Or we had to rebel.

We called Asif home in the evening and told him we wanted to leave the house at the upcoming month-end in two days. “Please ask Nahid to return our deposit and advance and we would leave,” we said. He complied.

And what we had expected happened. Asif Nazir called the next morning and said Nahid didn’t want to return our money. He suggested meeting in the evening.

We were stuck.

When we met in the evening at Rock beach, Asif and Nahid said either we could leave the next day without our money. Or pay the rest of the rent, pay for the washing machines repairs, and stay for the month. At the end of the month, they will return our deposit after deducting the damages caused by us.

So we weren’t going to get anything. We offered to leave in fifteen days: the duration our advance would last for. But nothing was agreeable to Nahid Khan. We even offered to pay half for the washing machine but she didn’t agree.

We told them we will think about the matter overnight and will get back the next day. But we knew nobody’s response was going to change.

That was the time of putting a plan into action. I dug deep and found a contact in Pondicherry administration through a close friend (who stayed with me on call until the entire matter was resolved). The official was at such a high position I was sure Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir wouldn’t be able to go beyond him. The person told us to put them off until Monday. He was returning to Pondicherry on Monday and would deal with the issue then.

We made up stories to delay the payment until Monday. Asif and Nahid haggled hard from their end, but we had no other option. Earlier when I had declined to pay on a phone call, Nahid had threatened to show up at the house and throw us out. Though we knew she couldn’t do anything, my partner has a serious phobia of things getting ugly. So I played nice.

Monday early morning both Asif Nazir and Nahid Khan started calling us. But soon one of the officials called them too. The duo understood we had contacted someone. But that didn’t deter them from being indecent.

Asif Nazir sent us an audio message to tell us he would come at 5 in the evening to throw us out. We enjoyed that our approach had vexed him.

I forwarded that message to the officials. They said Asif and Nahid couldn’t do anything. We just had to hold our ground and ask them to return our money. But we aren’t used to dealing with people whose job is to do things the wrong way. My partner and I spent most of that day in anxiety.

The duo did show up at 5 pm and stood outside the gate. I had locked all the doors to the house. But Asif Nazir tried opening the gate to enter even without our permission. Then they started blabbering stuff and told all the neighbors we hadn’t paid rent. Because we didn’t know the local language Tamil so we couldn’t tell our side of the story. They said we had to pay or leave immediately. Nahid Khan threatened she would lock us in the house. But Asif knew locking us would make us file a police case against them. So they didn’t.

I told them we would leave the next day at 11 if they returned our advance and deposit. They said they will see the house and adjust for the damages before returning anything and that one day rent for that house was 3k. We recorded the entire conversation. But things were becoming ugly. Asif Nazir asked me to shut my mouth and talk to my husband while leaving. The first thing an illiterate misogynist would do.

In the evening I called the police. Two policemen came. They saw the house, the gadgets, and the rainwater flowing from the staircase. One of the senior police officers said the gadgets given to us were scrap material and the house was in a deteriorating condition. I asked him what they could do to help us. He told me they will try to negotiate to resolve the matter. If the other party didn’t agree, they will move forward. I laughed silently.

The landlords downstairs told the police that Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir were paying them 10k rent per month. While they were charging us 35k. Amazing!

We packed our house that night. It wasn’t the last night we had imagined in that house but it was something. I made spaghetti. We ate our first meal of the day while watching Money Heist. Listening to the ocean roar, we drank rum and coke under the stars. Both of us were dead tired. We were getting behind on our work. We wondered what would happen the next day and where we would stay.

We went to the police station in the morning. The police had already called Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir. Our matter was discussed by a sub-inspector. If I didn’t know the source I did, none of the policemen would have listened to us or helped us out. So we had been lucky. But Asif and Nahid were perfect little liars who gave made-up answers to sub-inspector’s every question.

Asif said they only had four properties (I forgot to mention to the police they had at least nine), that their business had been down, and we had broken their gadgets. They said we had promised to stay for the entire month but were backing out because we had found a better option. Nahid Khan sprang around the police showing the printouts of our Whatsapp messages promising to pay her on Monday but that we hadn’t. And hundred other kinds of nonsense I can’t recall.

We also realized Nahid hadn’t given us the electricity bill because she was overcharging us. When the police asked how much of our electricity bill was pending, she said 1500. But she didn’t have a bill to show. Somewhere she had written some numbers one of which was 2600 and she claimed that was our total electricity due.

After a lot of hues and cries from both Asif and Nahid who pretended to be the ones who were getting cheated, it was decided we would get 20k (out of the 25k) back: deducting electricity, three days rent, and a little for the damn washing machine.

The police confirmed that in the past another guest had taken the host Nahid Khan to the police station. I was amazed by the lies both of them were freely furnishing in front of the police but decided to stay quiet.

We had requested one policeman to accompany us to the house. We were to move out and the policeman was there to ensure the duo paid us and didn’t harass us further. We took our stuff downstairs while Nahid went around the house in a mad frenzy. She couldn’t find anything broken. But kept blaming us for dirtying the house, for tattering the already pathetic cushions, and asked us to clean and this and that.

We did what we had to do as honest citizens and left. We spent the day in a cafe. In the evening I booked a guesthouse in Auroville and we drove down there.

For a day or two I felt I should have asked the police not to deduct anything from our 25k deposit and advance. After all we had stayed beyond the two months because those two had put us in a fix. Otherwise we had become so unhappy there we wanted to leave as soon as possible.

But now I’m happy I paid what I thought were my dues, that I didn’t tell the police the more obnoxious things about the duo’s businesses, and what I couldn’t expose to the police then, I’m doing through this medium now, which is my own.

Not only that week of haggling, police, and threatening was stressful, the entire stay there had been unnerving whenever we had to contact the host, Nahid Khan. I’m so sad to think houses so nice and spacious (that could shelter human beings) are lying wasteful or become toxic because we can’t be better people or look beyond our greed. What a shame!

Information, reviews, and scam reports about the hosts Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir

And now comes the even more interesting part of the story. I spent the next day researching about the hosts online. And I found a lot of information, reviews, and scam reports.

My mind is blown!

Google and Airbnb reviews on Nahid Khan’s profile and her properties would have been enough if we had seen them before. You have seen a lot of screenshots of the reviews above.

A few things are clear by the guests’ reviews:

Nahid Khan had purposely left the houses and gadgets in poor condition. Many guests had written she asked them to pay for whatever broke in front of them even though the thing was about to disintegrate because of years of usage or hosts’ negligence. And even when nothing went down, she made false charges and never returned the deposit. Nahid entered the house without permission. People other than the host always went inside the house to fix stuff.

The reviews show the issues happened frequently (because of zero maintenance and cheap quality products being used) and the host shifted the guests to another accommodation every so often. Guests also reported Nahid asking them to shift to another accommodation at a moment’s notice because sudden maintenance work had to be done in the present house. When the guests later checked they confirmed she had entertained new guests. Of course, they must have been paying more. The maintenance work was only a pretense.

When people complained to Airbnb, Nahid Khan screamed at them. If they complained or made requests to her directly, she was rude to them.

When Asif Nazir had come to our house alone once, he had confirmed Nahid Khan is known to be rude and unprofessional. And that with our feedback and unsatisfactory customer messages, he will get an upper hand in the partnership. He was delighted. For him, our messages were proof Nahid Khan had failed as a businesswoman, a host, and a business partner.

Guest reviews which constantly mention the host Nahid Khan moving them or offering to move them to a different property when issues arose, which was often.

Guests left Pondicherry helpless because they were visiting the city for a short time. Some couldn’t do anything as they had already paid and not even the police were going to listen to them.

How did the host Nahid Khan had 600+ Airbnb reviews?

Amongst the 600+ reviews, only the longer reviews are real and original. Most of the fake reviews are the short sweet two-liners we know to be fake.

Here’s are examples of fake reviews.

fake review for nahid khan host who manages guest houses in pondicherry fake review nahid khan pondicherry hotel

Another thing to note here is that though Nahid Khan’s profile has 600+ reviews, if we add up all the reviews on her eight properties, they come out to be around 150. What about the rest 450 reviews? I think Nahid deactivates the property once it is poorly rated and creates a new listing for the same property. This new listing would be live until its reviews turn negative too.

The host Nahid Khan collected reviews through friends, by making fake bookings, and creating multiple accounts under different names to review her properties. Many guests confirmed Nahid had asked them for fake reviews in return for a free stay the next time they visit. She also reviews her properties under alterations of her name. And many reviews are by Asif Nazir under various names as well.

Prem Azad is another alias of Nahid Khan. This is a self-review. The two reviews in the right image are definitely by Asif himself.

Nahid even asked for Airbnb reviewers from her Couch surfers — who confirm this as you can see in this screenshot of a couchsurfer review on Nahid Khan’s profile (I’m not able to login into my Coushsurfing account so this will come soon. If you have a couchsurfing account do login and read the review.)

Another important thing to note is that none of the houses were in White Town as Nahid Khan and Asif Nazir claim. All their leased houses were in fishing communities. But they mention their houses are in the most prime locations of Pondicherry.

The Bonus!

And now the best part of this article.

I Googled Asif Nazir and his shop Crafts Emporium on Mission street in Pondicherry, the name I only knew towards the end of our stay, came up.

On many websites, customers’ reviews for Crafts Emporium said Asif Nazir sold them fake rubies, fake sapphires, fake silver, and other fake stones. They only checked their jewelry once they were back home. The professionals in their countries told them the stones were fake. But the tourists had already left the country so they couldn’t do anything.

google review of crafts emporium mission street handicraft shop pondicherry asif nazir fake scam shop fraud salesman.png

Please do yourself a favor and don’t visit Crafts Emporium on Mission Street run by Asif Nazir if you don’t want to be cheated.

Asif Nazir is also opening up a restaurant by the name of Silver Fish. Be careful while heading there. I wouldn’t be surprised if people are employed at the restaurant to sneak out customers’ belongings.

I’ve sent Airbnb a long email telling them the whole case and giving information about the hosts Nahid Khan and her business partner (who isn’t even mentioned on the Airbnb listings). But I have not received any reply from Airbnb, yet. I didn’t take the house through Airbnb but given how active Nahid Khan is on Airbnb the platform needs to do something.

And right when I warned travelers on Facebook to stay away from scammers in Pondicherry, I got a message from a dear traveler telling me someone had forwarded her the number of Asif Nazir as a tour guide in Pondicherry. Be careful!

What can you do as guests and travelers?

Some advice is spread throughout the article. But you may want to go here to read a big piece of full-on advice for long-term and short-term travelers on finding a suitable place to live and explore (coming soon).

Travel advice for Pondicherry:

I haven’t met other scammers in Pondicherry, yet, so I’ll only talk about it in relevance to this experience.

Visit Nahid Khan on Airbnb. You only have to beware of this particular host and all the listings under her name. In case the host Nahid Khan changes her name or edits her profile to look different from how it is now, look for any worrying markers. If you still can’t find any of the profiles or aren’t sure if the host has changed the profile name, email me or reply to this article. I would help you out.

Look at the host Nahid Khan’s profile on other mediums (where people have reported the host asking for favorable Airbnb reviews in exchange for other things). CouchSurfing is a good place to start. Hostname – Nahid Azad, Prem Azad, and Nahid Khan amongst many others.

Go through the Google reviews of Rock Beach House. This is the house where I stayed. Search Rock beach Pondicherry reviews. IndiaPl reviews of Rock Beach and Top Rated Online Reviews of the property are all pulled from Google reviews itself so you would find them to be the same.

Visit Asif Nazir’s Facebook page (I think with time he may remove this. If you can’t open the link, message me.) Here Asif Nazir has put up his name as Asif Bhatt.

Read these reviews of Crafts Emporium where customers mention the fraud with the salesman Asif Nazir’s name with caps lock on. Read reviews on Nice Local and IndiaPl. Don’t worry if you can’t find the reviews. Email me or reply to this article.

Apart from these two, most people in Pondicherry are nice. The duo belongs from Uttar Pradesh (my state) and Kashmir. Most locals who helped me out were shocked that Pondicherry people were running such scams. When I told them Asif Nazir and Nahid Khan aren’t locals, they understood.

You can always just go to the Sea Forever Airbnb or eZilla house if you can’t find anything else. These might not be the most easily reachable or the big places you want, you’ll at least have nothing to worry about there.

Further, read my article on places to stay in Pondicherry (coming soon).

Some booking recommendations for Pondicherry are also coming soon.

Do you think this article will be helpful to people traveling to Pondicherry and to other places? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

*****

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