Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Living Alone in Koramangala - Part 1

The reason I am blogging about this issue is to draw attention to the way our Indian society functions and how it treats women, especially single women, and more importantly, those living alone. I live in Koramangala 4th block, a respectable neighbourhood...or so I thought till certain events started unfolding a few weeks ago. I live in the ground floor portion of an independent house, main door protected by a grill and back door overlooking the utility area, which has iron grills for a ceiling/roof. So, "safe enough", I thought and agreed to rent it. 2 weeks into my tenancy, and the nightmare starts...as the houseowner had not informed me that a full-fledged slum would be erected just across this main gate as one of the houses across the street was going to be demolished to make way for tiny flats, during my tenancy? I was told the neighbours were extremely genial...hah?

The neighbour who owns the site (let me refer to him as 'P') soon brought in a truckload of solid stones and within hours, a small hut/shed was built, encroaching on to the street itself! This was followed by a noisy family of workers moving in who soon converted this beautiful and peaceful neighbourhood into a full-fledged S-L-U-M. Yes, a slum with inmates screeching loudly at all times of the day, children and adults pooping in the street (fouling the entire segment of the formerly-clean street), clothes being washed and hung on a temporary clothesline between trees...you got the picture?

Construction started full-swing again only last week; there had been a long disruption due to some cement not arriving. There were the usual annoyances of labourers parking their bikes outside our house, the slum woman screeching at all times of the day, hoarding cardboard from other streets, throwing rubbish everywhere, including in the drain outside the house I have rented etc, but I kept quiet. However, last Friday, there were a couple of security issues that were quite alarming. I had drawn back the curtains a little bit, as I always do, to get some fresh light into the hall, where I was reading my morning paper. I could sense being stared at and when I looked up, I saw a small group of labourers staring at my window? I pulled down the curtains and switched the lights on.

An hour or so later, I was walking out of the kitchen after drinking some water from the fridge and I saw this labourer looking into the house for the second time (at least) that morning. I had noted what he was wearing, something bright red. He was smoking and keenly looking into the hall window in a purposeful manner. He looked like a regular thug/goonda, so I didn't want to handle it myself. I then immediately called up Mr. P's wife, Mrs. S and explained the situation to her. I said it was the second time anyone was looking into the house and insisted she needs to tell them NOT to do all this, as it is not "right". She said she'll speak to the supervisor. I added that this is fast becoming a security issue now and I can't just go to the Police and complain about this small issue as the whole force was out on other important issues due to the North Eastern situation in the city. She said she'll talk to the supervisor? There was NEVER a question of any apology emanating from her royal highness? I am absolutely appalled at the so-called audacity and arrogance of that woman, supposedly "educated" (really?) with children going to a good school nearby (principal of Bethany High School, please note)?

Since Friday, what I have done is go to sleep in the evening, get up at around 11pm, cook and eat my dinner and staying up all night till 5 or 6am, doing some work for one of my clients. Luckily, I am freelancing now and am able to choose my work hours. However, my entire sleep patterns (not to mention medication cycle for Hypothyroidism) have gone beyond my control. Is THIS how India and Indian neighbours treat single women?

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