A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Tell me, who loves their neighbour?
C’mon, it was a redundant question. I don’t expect you to answer that because it’s rather tough.columns Updated: Oct 28, 2017 18:38 IST
All those who have, at least once, wanted to shoot their neighbour say aye. I feel like it every day. Not wanted to kill all of them, lest you think national dailies these days hire bloody psychopaths to write columns. In fact overall, I’m blessed with a fairly decent neighbourhood with some really nice people around. But you know how it is, when one household, exceptionally talented in bugging the life out of you, undoes the goodwill of the well-behaved.
Here’s this family that collectively, and firmly believes that none of its members will attain nirvana till they don’t fight over at least 286 issues with whoever has the misfortune of breathing the same air as them. No amount of smiling or greeting warmly works on such people, because, you know, where’s the competition between short-term peace and ultimate moksha.
We’ve all had neighbours from hell, at some point or the other in our lives. Having had a hobby, since childhood, of watching people fight over the silliest of matters, here’s my take on the five kinds of devil neighbours, who can disrupt the peace in your life with amazing precision.
1.‘We-own-the-universe-and-everyone-else-is-a-tenant’ neighbours: It’s not their fault. They genuinely feel they own the earth. All of it. So, they’ll decide where and how they will park their automobiles, they’ll decide how much and in what direction their house will be extended, they’ll decide who and what goes up and down the community stairs. Everyone else but them is low life and can jolly well go to hell.
2. ‘We-love-everything-loud’ neighbours: Ab batao, why hold it against them if they understand music only when played at deafening decibel levels? You and your ear drums are your problems. And you are anyway low life, remember? So they’ll enjoy partying till late, talking long distance without bothering for a telephone instrument, and even practicing to be India’s first professional opera singers. You dare not step into their reign of musical terror.
3. ‘We-will-keep-a-pet-but-won’t-know-what-to-do-with-it’ neighbours: They are noble souls. They have adopted (or stolen, whatever) a pet. Just that now they’ve left it chained to the balcony, for the poor thing to bark his lungs out. What? The balcony is next to your window? How is it their problem? Change the structure of your house and move the window elsewhere — after seeking permission from the ‘landlords’ of the first category. Don’t worry, they won’t allow. They never allow anything. You’ll just have to grow fond of the barking sound. Isn’t music in the ears of the beholder or something? And don’t you think about complaining that their beloved pet shits on the stairs. Take it as a gift from heaven. And they own the stairs, remember?
4.‘We-are-the-garbage-kings-and-you-are-the-dustbin’ neighbours: At least they believe in the virtue of cleanliness. They could have retained all the garbage in their home and get the pleasure of watching the stench kill you, but are they doing that? No nah? If they are so nice, why are you creating a fuss if they throw all of it in front of your house.
5. ‘We-will-peep-till-we-sleep’ neighbours: They like to watch. Ab is mein bhi objection hai? Maybe they are trying to learn new household techniques by constantly watching you cook in the kitchen. Learn to enjoy the stares coming from across the window, through the curtains, sometimes blatantly from the balcony. Have you not heard of the ‘neighbourhood watch scheme’ of the Government? Apparently it’s good for us.
So, you see, that’s the kind of people you could find yourself living next doors to. And ironically enough, I’ve noticed that mostly, the good neighbours move out after a few years but the ones from hell stay on permanently for dear life. Anyway, if the stress of annoying neighbours is keeping you from staying calm, try going through the following stages to deal with them.
Stage 1 – Ignore: At least till your patience runs out. Turning your neighbourhood into a battleground affects everyone, and doesn’t really help in the long run. If the neighbour inflicts minor irritants on you off and on, try living with it for the sake of your own peace of mind.
Stage 2 – Talk: Knock on the door and tell them politely that their behaviour is causing disturbance. Sometimes people don’t know or realise that their actions are bothering others till they are informed about it. Lack of intelligence or etiquette does not necessarily come with an unwillingness to improve. Actually it mostly does. Sorry!
Stage 3 – Complain: I’m not suggesting you become a police-phoner at the drop of a hat but if things are getting out of hand everyday, there’s no harm in taking help from those who get paid, out of the taxes you work you’re a** off to give, just to protect your rights. Call the cops.
Stage 4 – Get even: Now this one’s tricky, because many of you won’t agree with me. Butkya karein, I’m not as saintly as all of us are taught in school to be. We are always told to not do anything wrong to anyone, and that’s very valid. Just that we forget that ‘anyone’ also includes us. My philosophy is simple: Don’t do anything wrong. And don’t let anything wrong happen to you. Now, how you interpret ‘getting even’ is up to you. A friend of mine who decided to move because she was sick of her neighbour’s ugly behaviour got inspired from a website and posted a ‘Flat on sale because the neighbour is an ass***’ note outside. That it didn’t really help her in getting buyers is another matter. But you do get the point, no? Step on to the darker side if being nice is not helping. Sometimes you’ve got to be a scumbag to deal with one. But hey, always stay within the law. Okay?
Sonal Kalra suitably bribed the newspaper vendor to not deliver today’s paper to the adorable neighbour. She later found out they don’t even subscribe to it. Clever vendor, you’re in trouble. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.