You wake up in the morning to an unfamiliar sound. First you think you are dreaming. Nope your eyes are actually open and you can see the dog wagging his tail and feel his tongue on your face. It is definitely not a dream. But the hammering continues incessantly. You go out to your garden and you see workmen in your property. No they are not working on some project for you. And “NO” they did not ask for your permission to enter. You try to handle the surprise without losing your cool and then you realize that they have also taken the liberty of removing the chain link fencing you put up on the top of your wall to prevent the dogs from jumping on to the road and scaring the living day lights out of people…. Then you remember the dogs…. Oh no what are you going to do to prevent them from going to the road??? They have to be in the house or the kennel all day.
Believe it or not this is not a piece of fiction. I wish it was. But this was a true life incident in my life a couple of months back. And the culprit is my beloved (in this case I wish it would be beheaded) neighbor.
In fact I wanted to title this article the monster neighbors but thought what is said in the headline was more appropriate and pointed out the root cause of the problem.
Why am I ranting about this a couple of months after the said incident? Well because yesterday something else happened that brought all the memories flooding back once more.
Since it has been raining a lot in the past few days we have heard a large noise of water pouring over mettle. I always thought it was the water pouring on my vehicle which was parked under the porch till my wife discovered just yesterday that our neighbor has actually turned his rainwater gutters in a way that the water flows into our garden.
The sad thing is these people are quite educated he is an engineer who is working abroad most of the time. She is a loud mouthed house wife from the coastal belt which has always made me wonder if there is a dash of fisherwoman in her blood line. Well we did not have much interaction with them before other than the occasional hi and byes when you meet on the road and stepping up to the gate and exchanging gifts during Christmas. Since we did not have that much interaction we did not have many problems till they started renovating their house. Then one could say all hell broke loose.
First they killed all the plants which were on the roadside against our walls by putting their stones and sand and bricks against it. Not only did it kill the plants it also messed up the paint on our walls.
Next the workers started putting all the rubble, lunch sheets and cement sacks onto our side and would not clean it up. And this used to go on consistently till we actually had to call and talk to them and complain. First the wife tried to talk to the lady next door. But she was no match for the neighbors fowl mouth.
Finally I had to call the husband and ask him would you like it if we did the same thing to you?
And only then did the penny drop that what they were doing might not be right. Since then I have been thinking how the neighborhood has changed in the past 35 years I have been living in this area.
During that time this was the faraway suburb where people who did not have that much money bought land and built their houses. The community was virtually full of mid level government servants. But it was a wonderful place. All the people respected one another and treated each other in a very dignified manner..
Well due to the land prices increasing substantially the entire area was transformed from a sleepy town (you really can’t call it a town but you cannot call it a village either) to a posh suburb for the rich and wealthy. You have to appreciate the fact that when I say rich; I don’t mean the filthy rich. They can still afford to live in the city. Anyway as the people changed the tone of the whole place has begun to change. Sadly a change for the worse.
No more single story beautiful houses with simple designs. All were multistory edifices. BMWs Audis and Big 4 wheel drives move up and down continuously as if the roads belonged to them. However the haughty ladies sitting in the back seat looked as if they don’t belong in this area and are just here by a strange coincidence of fate. Mixed into this is a wide variety of Lorries transporting raw material. I believe the people who are building these monstrous houses have no respect for civility or law or even basic human decency. They were just rules to be bent, ignored, bribed out of and if all these things do not work then you could always find some influence peddler and have someone bend a couple of rules for you as an exception. Wink! Now there is no more neighborly good will. I have heard that once one of them had complained to the police saying the dust was coming into his compound from the neighbor’s garden. Surely can someone prevent dust from flying over a wall? Only god can do that I think.
Just to tell you how close and caring the neighbors were I thought I would share how they supported me about 13 years ago. Our first Child was in hospital and my wife was there with her by her side for nearly a month. And during this entire period it was the neighbors that cleaned our house, gave me tea and breakfast in the morning as well as made a packed lunch for me sometimes to take to work they made sure even the clothes were washed and ironed to ensure that we only had to focus on looking after our child.
Sadly it is not the same now.
Some of our new neighbors think we are beneath them to even say hello. They don’t know what they are missing out.
One day it struck me why it is. I think most of these guys had got their money the easy way. Through scheming, bribing or even worse stuff. So with their big bucks they could buy into what some writers would describe as a decent lifestyle. Sadly that money could not buy them decency. But then this poem expresses my sentiments beautifully and I thought it would be a perfect ending for this post.
It can buy a House
But not a Home
It can buy a Bed
But not Sleep
It can buy a Clock
But not Time
It can buy you a Book
But not Knowledge
It can buy you a Position
But not Respect
It can buy you Medicine
But not Health
It can buy you Blood
But not Life
It can buy you Sex
But not Love