Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chronicles of an 'apartment' owner in Bengaluru I: Rats

This entry is one of the first in a series of many (I hope)- titled: 'Chronicles of an apartment owner in Bengaluru'. Mushrooming apartment complexes across the city has lead to a meteoric rise in the breed of apartment owners which in turn has ensured time being spent on a very critical activity (Employers please note: taking up, close to 50% of productive time during office hours) i.e. management of apartment societies where the most common forum is communication on 'e-groups'. Topics ranging from the critical, 'creation of society bye-laws', to the mundane, 'uniform color of the security guards' (!).

I belong to one of the 'newbie' apartment complexes where all houses are still not occupied and hence any issues even obscurely indicating that the 'builder' has cheated the owners are dealt with significant consideration. For instance, whether the builder actually has delivered on the promise of ‘designer landscaping’ (there are people who are working with lawyers, trying to define ‘designer’ landscaping and exploring opportunities for class action lawsuits) are critical issues and need detailed deliberation.

Coming to the point of this post- the infamous RAT from the rodent family. In a country, where a 'hamster' or a cute 'white mouse' doesn’t usually qualify as a friendly household pet, rats typically provoke images of filth associated with shrill screams. (No offence to devotees of the Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke, Bikaner and other rat lovers/ friends / devotees across the world).

A na├»ve resident in my apartment complex was caught unaware when he spotted a rat in his apartment. Opting for the ‘fight’ reflex, in minutes the rat was slayed and the next minute there was an update on our ‘e-group’: ‘I spotted a rat, and killed it immediately, are other residents facing similar rodent issues?’. Within minutes there was a flurry of responses, with tips on how to keep rats away, , how houses with children should get special protection from rats, better garbage disposal and a general consensus that ground floor houses are most at risk.

Of course there are always a breed of wannabes - people on the e-group who contribute by making point less ‘observations’, do not provide any suggestions and just sort of are out there to make some noise and use up free internet bandwidth. As an illustration, a ‘wannabe’ post to this surmounting mail chain (15 posts in 7 minutes): I saw a Rat lurking around the main-gate at night, has anyone else seen rats there?

I had to come up with a creative solution- my response to the mail chain:

In Block 1, there are no 'rats' but 'cats'- possibly the cats are eating the rats saving Block 1 residents from rats, but now we need a solution for the 'cats', which would obviously be Dogs, who are a man's best friend after all- the solution being that our apartment society should open a Dog Kennel/ Dog Spa/ Dog Day Care- (they have a fancy one in Gurgaon so why not in namma Bengaluru!) which would be a source of revenue (for the ever depleting society corpus) and also save us from the 'rats' at the main gate.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Contract Marriages

Most of life has become a series of transactions today. Consequently most relationships are transactional and often transient. Whether it’s the relationship between employer and the employee, neighbors within a society, tenant and landlord, colleagues at work- the list can pretty much go on and on.

In the kind of relationships wherein one enters by choice, and has much at stake, you often get into some kind of a contractual agreement. This ‘getting into a contract’ provides a sense of fairness, and an underlying connotation of ‘formality’ seeps in. The contract details both parties rights and obligations, has a defined term, and pages of other mundane details which lawyers are paid to draft.

One relationship, wherein one enters by choice, has much at stake, but does not sign a contract which has a defined term is ‘marriage’.

Visualize a society where people could pre-decide the term of their marriages? No stigma attached to separations, an option to renew the contract as many number of times, an option to get into as many contracts over a life time and an option go back to old contracts at any time as long as the ‘other party’ is willing as well.

What possibly could these contracts detail- in addition to the obvious ‘duration clause’ and ‘financial terms clause’, possibly sections on:
• Food habits- vegetarianism, cooking at home, frequency of eating out, duration/ location;
• Leisure clauses- destination and frequency of holidays, curling in at home with a book on lazy Sunday afternoons versus going for bike rides;
• Extended family clause- frequency of visits
• Bathroom habits;

Wonder if this concept of contract marriages would kill spontaneity or actually just make life simpler and hence happier?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Note Writing

Are you a note writer? I am. And I write all kinds of notes.

Considering I spend 80% of my waking hours at work (or at work related pursuits) a majority of my ‘notes’ currently are ‘MS word documents’ inanely saved as ‘notes_1’ or ‘BD_details’ or ‘minutes of call’. Labels which are extremely unhelpful when I am rushing for a meeting and have to refer to those most important notes which I know I made and saved! (MS Word hasn’t yet invented the kind of complex search algorithms I need.) Yeah, yeah I know- filing and folders would save me a lot of time but I’ll dedicate a complete blog entry on ‘filing skills’- both ‘e’ and ‘paper’. (All you ‘methodical/ organized types’- watch out for that oneJ)

The other notes I make are in an excel sheet based To-Do list. I rather like my excel to-dos, and I have a fairly complex color coding to indicate the high priority, medium-high priority, low priority, things Ill never do but want on my list areas etc. The sheet is updated as often as three to four times a day and makes for interesting reading (for me at least) once in a few months.

There was however a time, not too long back, when I did not have access to MS Word, a laptop and a phone (yes, I do remember that time!) when most of my notes, were handwritten and fell into two broad categories: a) handwritten to-do lists in a small pocket diary and b) notes to my roommates (paying guests, hostels) over the years. When I had something important to tell someone for instance: a) telling a close friend that I was upset with the way she treated me at dinner last night (these are defining moments in the lives of 16 year old girls, btw) or b) acknowledging that I had a crush to the crush, I‘d make notes of the key points to be covered during the conversation. Often, I’d also write down full sentences (the hard parts, where you have to tell someone that you care about them or sometimes that you don’t) and read them over and over again, practicing how I would actually say it when I would be face to face with the person.

I have some of these notes, and they emerge from the cob-webs once in a while, during house shifting exercises. Reading these hand written memos (usually on paper which is withering away) is a chilling experience- transporting you back into that moment of time when you felt so deeply about something. (And trust me, the ‘post-it’ application on your desktop doesn’t quite make the cut!)

If you are a note-writer you know exactly what I’m talking about here; if you aren’t, it’s never to late to start...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

something about being 30

There is a theory I have - life should be upto 30 and I'd live such a life three times over.
Signs of turning thirty or thereabouts include:
If you are a woman-
thinking about having a child; actually having a child; constantly thinking about the most important, challenging job role that you cannnot take up because it is in a different city and you are not locationally mobile; realizing that your parents are suddenly emotionally dependent on you (and you cannot go and crib to them about your life's trivial and not so trivial problems; they have 'real' issues to deal with and they are not these invincible life forms that you once thought them to be); it takes longer and longer and longer to lose the extra kilo; and you suddeny only want to drink wine.
If you are a man-
thinking about being married; visiting all your friends weddings and meeting their wives, being married, listening to your wife talking about having a baby all the time, making up excuses at work for watching sports, fibbing to your office colleagues about your party hopping/ fitness phobic lifestyle, feeling sorry for your best friend who is losing hair and thanking your stars you were blessed with better genes, constantly sorting out and filing documents- house loan papers, car loan papers, insurance cliams, IT returns...

Imagine a life without having to go through this ever, never having to think about responsibilities which come with the mid-decades of your life- no feeling guilty and responsible about your parents and children all the time, knowing that marriage (if you decided to take the plunge) is perhaps only for a few years, no pressure about whether you will have the bank balance of your dreams when you are 40, no planning for old age and medical insurance and no 20 year loans.

Think about it, dream today- think of three lives upto 30 and what you would do. ...