Have you heard of a neighbor cutting down a bougainvillea shrub because it peeped into their garden? Mine did just that. Not only did they cut down the part that grew over their side of the fence but they cut my side too. Why? Don’t ask! When asked, I was told that it was done by the workers without their knowledge.
What about the lemons from my lemon tree? Did you take them too?
No- no they just fell into our side of the garden.
I hope you get the drift.
And yes of course Mrs. C who decides to have the huge mother tree facing her home chopped down leaving several squawking birds, lost without their nests and homes. And why did she do it? Her home needs more sunlight you see.Hey! What about the birds?
Let me move onto another neighbor down my lane. Any maid who works in my home has to be stopped by Mrs. M who will inquire in detail her name, work timings, where she comes from, her references and how much she is paid and the grand last question of all-‘Why don’t you work for me instead? Well!
My maid (they are the stuff legends are made of in Pune) deigns to come to work 5 days out of 10.The day she decides to do so, she walks in slowly and as soon as she catches me looking at her, her expression undergoes a swift change into one of tiredness and a slight huff and a puff. I don’t need to ask her. I know her answer already. It took her ½ an hour to cross the road.
I can’t change maids here in Pune because a maid in the enclave I live in is a rarity. If available they are unaffordable. ‘Patience-have patience I tell myself each day, have the faith that you will get support’, I reassure my fatigued self. Most of the time I am crabby and snappy. Especially when I am told ‘This the way it is here. You can’t change a thing Jyo.Either accept it or do all the work yourself’. I am no lazy bum but cleaning 3000 sq foot of space is not something I can handle each day, every day.
It’s not about maids and neighbors alone; it’s all about being patient and tolerant in this city that I have made my home since the last two years.
We chose our home with great care, a home that would suit our needs-space, a garden, a sit out area and serenity... Choosing my home was definitely lot smoother a process than choosing my neighbors.
Can I do something about this? Can I be a good neighbor despite the attitude, arrogance and churlishness? Can I be a laid back occupant of a huge bungalow who doesn’t care about the home being cleaned daily or not or if the children have been fed healthily? Can I ask the friends who drop by( and keep saying ‘Wow’ ‘ Wow’, this is some villa you live in) to not look up towards the ceiling when they walk in out of fear that they will have cobwebs staring down into their faces.. Can I ignore so much more-the poor customer service that exists even in expensive branded outlets where I have had hilarious experiences buying lingerie? Or in restaurants or the roads where I have to drive at a snails pace just because the two scooterists in front of me are having an interesting conversation right there in the middle of the road. mindless of the traffic and my honking?
I have asked A and myself this question many a time, during those rare moments we get to spend together in conversations. Rare moments of sipping tea in the shady verandah, watching the bulbuls and mynahs take their bath and nibble at the bird feed while D plays with the strewn orange leaves of the huge gulmohar tree. Those rare moments with nature, the chirping of the birds, a wide-eyed owl looking down from its tree hollow, a cheery smile from my milk man, the gentle sounds of the morning as the world arises is a reminder to me that the world and the people in it are not going to change. All of it is simply worth tolerating and a part of my ‘life’s’ experience in a different city.