While Krishnan and I returned on the 20th from our vacation, I feel we are truly back only today. Here’s why – I stood in my nighty in the middle of the street and had a screaming row with a neighbour ! I had to sleep to cool off that’s how intense it got.
This is our neighbour for nearly 30 years at Hyderabad. They have always been difficult. He is a building contractor and has become rich so feels he doesn’t have to answer to anyone and that all other folks on the street are no match to him. He decided to rebuild his house into a three floor building and started the work some six months back. The first thing he did was to cut the Coconut tree that was extending into his plot. Nothing wrong with cutting out a tree that’s in your way, except that he took no permission from the owner, that’s Mom. Not only did he cut the tree he trespassed into our house and cut it to the root almost and asked our tenants to pay him Rs. 3000/- for having done it !!!! Can you imagine this in any other country other than India? Maybe, but its definitely possible in India :).
I had changed the courtyard flooring with nice bright floor tiles a couple of years back as the stone slabs were uneven and jutting out in places. This time when we came home half the tiles near his house are covered in cement as he never used any protection over them and just went on plastering his house. He is a big rich guy you see :(. On Wednesday there was smoke coming out from the corner that is closest to our house and our car is parked in that corner. So I went out to see what was causing it – they were welding some pipes together and what was supposed to take just 5 minutes took well over 30 minutes and then it started to drizzle a bit so the fire went out anyway.
Today around 12 noon, Amma saw that a truck had come and they were carting off garbage from their house. She went out and spoke to the cleaning lady there to pick up some of the garbage (pile of leaves) that was collected at the corner where our boundary walls meet. That lady spoke to Mom as though she was the Queen of India and my mother had made some obscene request and well, I lost it. I strode out and saw the great man on the top floor and asked him to come down. He did but spent 5 minutes on the phone while I stood in the middle of the street. Then I told him off loudly saying he needed to clear the pile of leaves that his “tree” had shed and that his cleaning lady has no business speaking to my mother the way she did. He started off with his point of paying 3000/- for cutting the tree and that we didnt reimburse him. I asked him that he was building the house and the tree was bothering him so he cut it – what was the logic in our paying for it? He refused to remove the garbage and so I told him to remove his car that was parked in front of our house – the entire street has wide sidewalks where cars can be parked but they are all blocked with building material for the big rich guy’s house ! He had the gall to say that the sidewalk in front of our house was “public” space and that was just the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. He got a mouthful and Krishnan joined in as well. The whole street came out to watch the fun. Finally I just left the place and got back inside. Mom was of course very upset because she doesn’t like any kind of brawl and especially when Krishnan or I get involved. Our tenant also came down to pacify me and said that we shouldn’t engage with him as he has no culture.
The best advise came from the regular garbage collector who witnessed the whole thing – he told Amma not to speak to this guy because he was quite nasty. I even toyed with the idea of getting the police involved because he cut the tree without permission and always speaks rudely to Mom, our tenants and us. My dear friend Ravindra gave the good idea of using twitter and I may still do it. Krishnan calmed me down saying no actions for 24 hours… Ok. I took a nap and finally cooled down enough to laugh about it.
Hopefully I will let this go otherwise I may calmly create trouble by tweeting to GHMC and/or the police.
This experience taught me something that Bernard Shaw said long ago … hopefully I learn well and not repeat the mistake. 🙂