Strangers as Neighbors

I was surprised when my doorbell rang around midnight couple of nights ago. Good thing was that I was alone, bad thing was that I didn’t have a way to see who is behind the door (we had given up chasing the maintenance guys who were supposed to put an eyepiece on the door). Anyway, I opened the door, to find the guard of our building there.I was very surprised, he never comes up to our house.

He asked me if my TV was on. I said no, and asked him why he was asking. “One of your neighbours complained that there is loud noise coming from somewhere, so I am checking on your house,”  he said.

It reminded me of an incident in 1999 in US when police knocked on our door one midnight because my flatmate was playing loud music and a neighbor had called 911. I always believed this happens in US because people don’t know their neighbors and trust police more than their neighbors. Also, some people are so paranoid that if some stranger knocks at their door (to tell them about the loud music), they are likely to wave a gun at them (and shoot too!). I always thought India was much better since we knew our neighbors, talked to them, and much more tolerant of loud noises!

But I guess I was wrong. My 2-floor down neighbor thought it was better (or more convenient) to send the guard on a wild-goose chase of the source of loud noise, rather than tolerate it (I couldn’t hear whatever noise was bothering them, so it can’t be that deafening) or pick the intercom and inquire on their own with neighbors.

If I look at this from that person’s perspective, I can understand the rationale: he doesn’t know me, and will probably feel awkward calling me at midnight. He is bothered by this noise though and wants to do something about it. In apartment complexes in India, security guard is the most convenient tool to use, and so he was used here too.

I am writing this because I found this very odd, a very american behavior. But I guess this is the price we pay for living in a modern, world-class apartment complex in a metro, we live the american way. I should be getting used to strangers-as-neighbors model in India too.

3 thoughts on “Strangers as Neighbors

  1. Hi Mrityu… welcome back to India and good to see you expressing your views through this blog. I have put-up this post for a quick read for my students.

    This is Ashish if you may recall. Just like I didn’t recognized your face on the first look, you won’t recall me that easily – or maybe you could?

    I have discovered some ways to stay calm even with the irritants that are part of our lives in India. In my view, they also add the necessary spice and makes things interesting for the observer in you- else what can you write about life in a cubicle with a 9-6 routine!

    You need to be Scot Adams and create characters like Dilbert, The Boss and Ashok to be able to do it 🙂


  2. A quick piece of advice 🙂 ; Get that Eye piece (magic eye) fixed to the door yourself.
    And fix it at a level where the eldest of the kids can drag a chair/stool and can view through it.
    (Trust in god, but lock your door and look through the eye piece before you answer a calling bell)


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