Live and let live

MORNING IS the most precious time of the day. That is when you are feeling mellow, and relaxed after a wonderful sleep; all that you can manage and look forward to is a cup of coffee, its aroma slowly waking up your brain and taste buds. Of course, this has to be accompanied by the newspapers, the comfort of the routine setting the pace and tone for the day.

One particular morning, I noticed that there were only two newspapers instead of the usual four. My complaint to the paperboy was met with a solid, "Of course, I delivered it all"! When it happened the second and the third day, I hit the roof; but he still maintained his stance. On the fourth day I decided to take matters on hand and woke up early to solve the mystery of disappearing newspapers.

Yes, the newspapers were there at our doorstep, and before I could open the door to retrieve it, I spied our new neighbour swooping it under his arm and walking towards his apartment! Incredulous at what I just witnessed, I knocked on his door. He calmly told me that, "You are getting four different newspapers, and they all carry the same news anyway"! What convoluted logic! Didn't it occur to him to say; "May I. or, when you finish reading" otherwise, it is called stealing? One has to be made of sterner stuff to live in apartments . The quirky behaviour while living with others can range anywhere from avoiding eye contact, never saying a `hello' to an over familiarity that makes you gape speechless.

Multi-unit structures, housing several hundred people have become the norm everywhere. This lifestyle, in turn, means that different personalities from different backgrounds live side-by-side and have different levels of sensitivities and have varied opinions of what defines courtesy. Residents often lead their life with utter lack of thought for the community, as a whole. A wide range of behaviours bothers tenants. The top ones are - trash being tossed out of windows, loud music and TVs, dog owners who allow Fido to bark incessantly, children running up and down wildly and of course taking what doesn't belong to you. For peaceful coexistence, people need to be consciously aware of others - here the reference is not to the nosey variety.

As much as people have the right to live the way they want to live, there is a huge responsibility that comes along with it. Here are some sins to avoid for communal bliss.

Noise pollution: Turn down the volume emanating from your apartment. If you must listen to your favourite movie or your TV serial in full volume, get yourself a headphone or soundproof your apartment. You choose. Noise pollution extends to your powerful vocal chords, too.

Whatever polishing, pounding and hammering that is happening while redecorating, please do not start it too early in the morning or extend it to midnight shifts in your eagerness to see it completed. If you must, courtesy demands that you inform your neighbours before hand.

Elevators: Close the elevator doors (especially if your building has the earlier models) when you get off. Teach your youngsters to do the same and tell them never ever to press all the buttons, `just for the fun of it' before getting off. The same goes for any littering and graffiti.

If you are planning to move in or out, try to reserve the elevator time after the morning office/school rush is over and make sure the residents are aware of the time the elevator will be used for this purpose. Older people and residents with physical restrictions cannot hop, skip and jump up and down the stairs; they depend on the elevator, even if they live on the first floor.

Common areas: Must be treated with respect and concern for the community at large. The prevailing attitude seems to be, "if it is not mine, it is someone else's concern" (whose?). Another behaviour of utter unconcern for common areas is the resident who pours buckets and buckets of water to wash their front entrance without any thought to the water fall that is ruining the floors and ceiling below.

Garbage: Wrap all your garbage for proper and timely disposal. One filthy apartment is enough to have pests taking over the whole building. Nothing, and absolutely nothing, not even clumps of hair, is to be tossed outside on to the common areas.

Laundry: Most apartment buildings have restrictions on drying your laundry in the front balcony. Even if you couldn't be bothered with all these silly association rules, at least try and confine it to your balcony and not have it draping down the downstairs balcony too.

And, remember to let the offender know because most people will change their habits when they are made aware that some of the things they do are irritating their neighbours. If they don't respond to hints or suggestions from fellow tenants, then the person with the problem may have to call upon a third party for help.

There are no laws against an antisocial or unhygienic rituals practiced by those who live near you. It is all about self-regulation, discipline and social graces. You want to make living with strangers as peaceful as possible. Remember, your children are watching you and learning.


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