Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lost in the Concrete Desert

Part -1

Stepping on the black granite steps, pushing open the huge gleaming glass door, we enter a lobby; I tell myself, "looks like a 5 star hotel"…eh?
"Good evening, Madam, good evening Sir"!
Husband stops at the reception to talk to the Manager while giving the apartment keys into my hand as I was eager to have a second look at the place we were moving in.
Coming out of the lift on the third floor, I flung open another door which leads to two flats, one to the right and the other to the left. Without batting an eyelid, I proceed straight to the left door and trust the keys in the key hole, don't open! "Have I put in the wrong keys"? Oh, how can I? Let me try once again, refuses to open, as I go on nudging with the keys, the door opens from inside and there stands a westerner with a confused smile! I'm horrified! Taken aback, "Sorry… So sorry, it's a mistake"… I hurriedly take a right turn to the other flat and at once the keys obeyed and in I went and the door automatically shut.. Sigh.. Sigh.. "What a stupid thing to do", I thought, "What will that person have thought.. Inquisitive or a foolish Indian lady"… before I thought any further, I could hear someone speaking from the master bedroom!!! Omygosh! "Is it a wrong flat again? No, how could that be", at once the adventurous me took over and I tip toed to take a peek into the bedroom, what I see? The TV is on! "Who was watching the TV by the way",  a thought raced my mind, "maybe the person who came in to connect the TV forgot to switch it off", I concluded.  I hurried out of the bedroom, in came my husband, followed by the manager, "Everything is set in the house Madam, when you move in, I bet the house will be very comfortable, the manager quipped.
The main door flung open and there was a man with the aqua cool water bottle, who headed straight to the kitchen and said that I just had to call the reception to replace the bottle once it's over, I gave an impressive look at husband, meaning, "wow! We get aqua cool bottles free here", (everything included in the rent). Before I could calculate further, the man pronounced, "You will have to pay BD 1 per bottle". My facial expression soon turned into a thousand fills nay frills! Do you understand what that means?
Ok, we are moving in next Friday, husband announces as we are leaving the building.
Son and husband are highly impressed with the brand new building, son has already plans of making his body look like one of those body builders, teaching dad how to play pool, whereas husband has lots of plans up his sleeves of playing TT with son, enjoying a sauna, jacuzzi and swimming leaving behind poor me who is more concerned about the number of cabinets the kitchen has, where to store the innumerable cookeries, the small stereo, the cassette rack, the little decorations to give a homely touch et al!
Friday morning dawns and we begin our battle with the boxes, as I call it..Shucks! Why do we hoard so many things?, cant we make our lives simple by simply not buying things or not succumbing to the numerous sales? Still remember we coming to this island with three suitcases, how I wish we had remained that way! All flash backs… no time to rewind my life back to 1995… almost tripped and fell, thanks to the masking tapes which lay all over.
As we move in our things into the new apartment, the man at the reception comes and introduces himself as Alim from Pakistan. "Glad to meet you", I say. He quips, "Madam, are you people moving from a villa to an apartment"? "Why", I ask? He replies, "People who come into this building walk in with their suitcases"! Well, I tell him, "We too did the same thing some 12 years ago" and walk past him. "Madam, let me help you", he follows.
Next morning dawns…. I open my eyes, new walls, lacy curtains, everything is unfamiliar, can hear husband praying in the other room, I rush out of bed. Coming to the living room to take a look at the view, what do I see, tall buildings everywhere, where is the sea view which I was so used to in the previous flat? I try to look in all directions but alas, its only concrete, concrete everywhere!
Ding dong! "Who is this"? … I look through the peep hole to see two women, I click open the door, they greet me with all kinds of sticks, bucket full of cleaning lotions, etc.," Good morning madam, housekeeping"! Err, well, housekeeping? "No one told me" … I thought! "Good morning, I have just got up, can u come after an hour please"? Phew! "Why can't they leave me alone", I think aloud. I remember Deva my house boy who was ever accommodating.
The same evening I bump into Aalim in the lobby. "Good evening, madam, hope you are having a pleasant stay"? I give him a smiling nod and out of curiosity ask him, "Are there any Indians living in this building".   Pat comes his reply, "You are the only Indian family, and we have one Pakistani, a few Europeans, and a few Britishers living with their girl friends, one British lady with her dog and one original British family. One original British family? Haven't heard of any such thing! I repeat," an original British family"? "Yes, madam, husband & wife, the wife is pregnant". Now I know what an original British family means.. haha! Does anything like this ever exist in the dictionary?
The other day, a friend of mine drops me home, as we are reaching home she happily says, "Asha, you are very lucky to stay in this area", before I could even ask "Why", she says, "there are so many eat outs here, you can walk into any of them and munch your favorite food"! "My dear, don't forget the Brahmin from Bangalore who doesn't even go near garlic", for which she teases, "You shouldn't be living here". We both have a hearty laugh.
The same evening, went to the 9th floor to see what my son and his friend were up to. Both of them were having a splash in the cold pool, "How is the feeling, aren't you guys feeling cold"? "No", both of them giggled. As I walked down the staircase and passed the gym I could hear the huffs and puffs from inside, I dare not go in to see who is getting fitter…
Coming into the apartment, I hear a Trrrrrringggg….  At once I lose the sense of direction, "from where is it coming", I look everywhere, ah, there.. I run and pick up the intercom and say "Hello", the screen lights up and I can see a man standing and looking elsewhere as he requests me to open the door, as I open the door, I tell myself, "A video com, ok, hadn't seen, rather experienced before"!
The man comes in and says he has come to fix the pc line. He checks all the walls of the house and says, "Madam, the pc can be connected in the living and the master bedroom". I say," I don't want it in both, can you please connect it to the other room", showing him the 3 rd bedroom where I'm planning to make a study.  "No, I cannot," "Can take an extension wire, can't we?" Then without allowing him to reply, I say, "Will anyone keep their pc in the living and master bedroom"? "Well, madam, Britishers have laptops and they usually do everything in the living and master bedrooms". "What does he mean everything"?, I quiver. Anyway, "Whiteheads have raised their heads again" I murmur. "Ok, madam, I'll bring the patch chord tomorrow and fix the line". "We already have one", I hurriedly bring and show it to him. He takes a look at it and says, "This is made in China, madam. I will bring the one which is made in England, and in this building, only that chord works and not the Chinese". I am dumb founded!
Well, people, this is the first week of my stay in Aman Plaza. Can I call it primitive or modern? Can anyone decide for me, please?

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