When we bought our flat, it was one of the nicest places we'd seen in 3 years of searching. The flat per se is still nice, but the location sad to say, inspite of costing the earth currently, is shitty, to say the least of it.
It all goes back to the plot of land behind our flat. It is a HUGE plot, very desirable by all reckonings, esp from the point of view of a real estate broker, it being very close to a big Techpark. And it has been lying vacant, maybe not unsought, but definitely unbought, for some 5-6 years now.
It is a T-shaped bit of land, the horizontal tract is owned by Mr. A Reddy, and the vertical tract is owned by Mr. B. Reddy. And you could safely say that the two are not on amicable terms.
There is no approach road to Mr. B. Reddy's tract, for it is bounded by flats on two sides, by Mr. A. Reddy's land at the top, and by a lake at the bottom. So, I think Mr. B Reddy made an offer to Mr. A Reddy to buy out his tract of land. But, and I don't know the exact reasons behind this one- negotiations soured. And the two went back to being even less amicable than before.
As per the conjectures/ local gossip that ran wild,
a) Mr. A Reddy was asking a huge sum of money, far beyond what could be expected
b) He didn't want to sell and see Mr. B. Reddy gain out of it.
c) The two were family foes.
Now Mr. A got into action. He decided to rent out his tract of land- that horizontal piece, which was by the road. As I said, the land was near a Techpark and so flats were mushrooming all around. There were plenty of labourers working on those sites. Who obviously needed a place to stay nearby. Mr. B Reddy had a ready clientele. He rented out some tents in that bit of land he owned. And his rates were not piddly- Rs. 100/- per tent. It started off with some two or three, but now it has risen to alarming proportions- some 10-12 of them, just a few feet apart.
All this so that potential buyers see the slum just next to Mr. B. Reddy's land and are discouraged. Potential buyers are discouraged alright, but what Mr. B. Reddy hasn't taken into consideration is that existing neighbours are disappointed too. Their dream house is now surrounded by filth. For these unfortunate people do not have a proper toilet. They sit in Mother Nature's lap, whenever she calls. And now that the rains have set in, there arises a lovely aroma sometimes- of urine and shit.
And these labourers are people like us, who live and toil and love and make kids. Dozens of them. All within that small bit of land. And for those dear kids, the road is their park. We vehicle owners have to be ultra careful when we drive, so that those little feet do not get in the way. Oftentimes, a one year old crosses the road, blindly crying for his/her mother on the other side. And I wonder at the contrast betwwen these kids and Sonny boy. The one so protected, and the other so left-to-the-tender-mercies-of-Mother-Nature again. But probably, the other growing so much sturdier, and more independent, than the other.
They are harmless people, these labourers, all of them leaving to work in the morning and returning only by the evening. They have no drunken binges during the weekdays. Some Fridays, like any other people wanting to let their hair down, they have a good time, drinking, singing, getting abusive... But that was not very often and we really didn't have much of a grouse against them, the hapless people.
But, for now, whenever we hear of some guest landing on us, we wince. At having to drive them past the rows of seedy, plastic tents. At having to field their questions of why on earth we chose to buy a flat in THIS neighbourhood. At their remarks of 'the flat is nice, dears, but the location...ummm eeerrrr aaaahhhh...
Thankfully, our particular flat is at the farthest end, and we do not get a ringside view of the slum, with associated smells and noises. Those that do, tell us that the stench is overwhelming on certain days, and that they almost never open their windows on that side.
We can never go for pleasant walks, like we used to do inititally. For, if in the morning, all those labourers are out gazing at us, somehow, through no fault of theirs, spoiling the walk for us. And if it is at night, you never know what you might be stepping into.
You can't even think of raising a complaint against those poor people. For they are living on land that is rightfully theirs. Paying a royal rent of Rs. 100/- for just a few feet of land. But I would LOVE to do something to Mr. B. Reddy. Who, just to satisfy his mean nature, out of greed, and to spite a fellow business man, thinks nothing of upsetting the applecarts of a 100 other families. And purposely goes about creating ugliness...
But I know I can do nothing, except blog about it and let off steam.
Tomorrow, my aunt who lives in Canada, and is a stickler for cleanliness, comes to visit us. I am already shuddering at the distaste in her voice. And at her disappointment- that THIS is the dreamhouse her neice eulogised about in her mails. Sigh!
1 hour ago