A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Blessing in disguise

Posted by Pepper on September 18, 2014

I am quite pleased to announce that I’ve quit using the elevator since the past 3 months. Both our houses (my parents and ours) are situated on the 4th floor. When put together, I use the stairs a minimum of 4 times a day. God knows my knees really need the exercise. I wish I had abandoned the lift earlier. But better late than never, I suppose. The lazy bugger that I am, I would never have taken to the stairs until something pushed me to it. And here’s how the final push came.

During one of our initial interactions with the previous owners of our home, they told us they were ‘quite friendly’ with all the immediate neighbours. Mint and I smiled. That was a good thing. At that time however, we had no idea of what friendly really meant. We soon found out. There are 4 homes on the floor, and let’s just say, all the residents on the floor love each other. And that’s putting it a little mildly. Our previous owner’s children grew up in the neighbour’s homes. They ate their meals in one of 3 adjoining houses. They bathed and slept in one of the other homes too. Almost every other day.

Every house on the floor leaves their main door open through out the day. With all the doors open, the neighbours can go in and out of each other’s homes without the hassle of ringing the door bell. Facilitating easy access was the purpose. The open doors also allow good cross ventilation, so it suits them. This practice continues till date. Some evenings I see the women sitting in one home, helping each other chop veggies.

When we met the neighbours, they took great pride in telling us how closely knit they were. One of them also added, “Pata hai, aisa Mumbai main bohut kam hota hai” (You know, this doesn’t happen much in Mumbai). Sure, we agree. But Mint and I were a little unsure of how we would fit in this setup. We belonged to a very different age group. That apart, neither Mint nor I are very conventional in thought. Would they be shocked by our lifestyle and choices?

At that time, one of the neighbours suggested we leave our main door open at all times too. We shuddered. Now while we like the idea of friendly neighbours, I don’t think either of us are capable of living with them. I don’t even know how they do it. I am not a very social person. The idea of of having our door open at all times was downright frightening.

All of us need some privacy. At times I wear a pair of *very tiny* shorts at night and I am not sure how comfortable I would be being seen in them by all and sundry. Mint and I tend to share random, long hugs while passing. We also tend to get mad at each other for no reason. I love lying on his lap while watching TV. There are so many little things that are only meant for you and your family to revel in. The thought of displaying our life to outsiders makes me so uneasy. Don’t we all have our own private world behind closed doors?

I told the neighbours quite politely that we aren’t home all day anyway. So the door can’t be left open. That one wasn’t too hard. I thought it ended there and we wouldn’t be subjected to excessive familiarity. It wasn’t meant to be that easy, ofcourse. Since the doors of the other homes were open forever, they caught us getting in and out of our home all the time.

At first, I thought a smile and a hello each time we ran into one another would be good enough. But most of them wanted to engage in long conversation every time they saw us. And when I say long, I mean it. They stood in the passage, chatting with us forever. This works when you meet somebody after a while, but expecting an hour long conversation twice a day was a bit too much for us. We don’t have that kind of spare time. But more than that, I get plain nervous in front of people. I believe I suffer from some kind of a social anxiety disorder.

The adults apart, there are two little brats (aged 5 and 2) who live next door. I adore the brats and I know I am entirely responsible for spoiling them. Whenever time permits, I let them into our home and play with them forย an extended duration. I shower them with attention. They’ve now come to expect that from me. So they want me to play with them each time they see me and unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to do that. Getting them to let go of me takes me quite a while.

For a while, I was actually scared of being seen by the neighbours. And I couldn’t help being seen if I stood outside waiting for the elevator. In order to avoid them, I started sneaking out of the house and dashing down the stairs before I could be spotted. At first, I used the elevator from a lower floor. In sometime, I actually started preferring the stairs all the way.

For the same reason, I had started using the stairs even to get to our home. It helped me remain unseen. Although I was compelled to do it for the reasons mentioned above, I actually started enjoying the little exercise. Soon I switched to taking the stairs even while going up and down my parents’ home. It’s been three months now. I trudge up the stairs even with my heavy laptop bag. No allowances, unless I am exceptionally tired. Like I said, I am glad my knees are getting the exercise. This was was truly a blessing in disguise.

26 Responses to “Blessing in disguise”

  1. S said

    hahaha! I have had similar experiences! But this one is quite funny!

  2. renxkyoko said

    I seriously think leaving the doors open for your neighbors to come in and go as they please is too much for anyone to take. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that. You can be friendly and neighborly without giving them too much freedom to encroach on your private lives.

    • Pepper said

      So from the moment I published this post, I noticed they started shutting their doors too. It was quite freaky. I even wondered if they secretly read my blog, haha. Anyway, I am quite glad things are changing.

  3. srividhya said

    That’s great. Its really good to quit the elevators na ๐Ÿ™‚ I live in a three storey town house and I get my daily exercise done ๐Ÿ™‚ Regarding neighbors, I am in the same boat with you. Weekend get-together, chit chat for 10mts is all ok, but leaving the door open, I can’t do it..

  4. R's Mom said

    hahahahaha! Pepper..you are adorable…really really adorable…At the risk of inviting your irk..let me just tell you that you are so so lucky to have such neighbours..obviously you may not realise it now..but in some point in time, if ever you have children, you will realise the luck level..I yearn yearn..literally yearn to have such neighbours..your neighbours remind me so much of my house in Brc…sigh!

    And of course, I can understand the whole door not kept open from your point of view…its tough for me to do it now..after 8 years in this city ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pepper said

      I know RM. I feel a little guilty complaining too. It is after all a very good support system to have. And thankfully they’re not even interfering. Just overly friendly. I’ll try and count my blessings instead of being ungrateful for what I have. .

  5. D said

    ha ha ha…you know what…I would have done EXACTLY the same if I were in this situation….:D I can understand its is difficult for many of us to be social with neighbors to this extent..I fall in the same category..

  6. Deboshree said

    Loved the way you built up to the blessing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Bhavani said

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Though the setup sounds very nice….I totally get how you feel…it does feel a little too much and will get overwhelming…….and I would definetely not feel comfortable leaving the door open at all times with small kids around ;)) Remembered a Friends episode of Rachel and Ross in the Museum – LOL

  8. 4 times is awesome , Pepper. I do our US 5th floor( India 4th) twice and it’s often my only exercise. Oh and leaving the door open would be a tad too much for me too but nice to know u have such a nice community around you.

  9. Shudder. AB ‘s parents home is exactly like that. His neighbour’s daughter practically lives with his parents. The door is always left open for people to walk in whenever they want. Sometimes these people even open cupboards and help themselves to what they want. Every afternoon the housewives join forces to chitch. That is chat+bitch btw.

    I couldn’t live there if you’d pay me to. To me, a home is a private space. I want to feel comfortable in it. A little mess, a little disarray, a little less clothes, and not having to keep smiling all the time.

    You can quite happily keep your door shut and pull off the ‘young couple with no children wanting privacy’ card’. But only for so long. Or maybe keep the door open and with the hotpants and PDA, they might close their doors and be nice to you for not keeping it open! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Pepper said

      Chitch? LOL. That word is an awesome invention. I don’t think these people indulge in chitch. And thankfully, I don’t have to look for excuses or reasons to have the door shut (though your ideas are quite innovative :P). They suggested it quite casually and nobody brought it up again after I turned it down. And you know? I was quite freaked out when I noticed them shutting their own doors right after I published this post.
      AB’s neighbours opening cupboards and helping themselves sounds too extreme ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  10. Rachna said

    This is really a blessing in disguise :). I was subjected to the same when I was living in Ahmedabad. Who leaves their doors open all day long and why? And then they gape at you like you are some exotic animal. I used to hate it. I was very anti-social back then :). Indeed why should we not want our own privacy. And seriously in Bombay how did you manage to find this neighborhood? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pepper said

      No gaping here. But I feel awkward even without the stares. Perhaps I am too conscious. The neighbours are so social only on our floor. I really wondered how they got this friendly and close too. But anyway, they’ve started closing their doors now, much to our relief. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. ash said

    ugh these kind of neighbors would make me a bit uncomfortable , I am an introvert …talking just tires me out .

  12. Stu said

    Shudder shudder shudder. Can’t imagine living like that. Even if i love my neighbours, i can’t talk do small talk so many times a day and for as long as you say, and i most MOST definitely cannot leave the door open. I like to walk about in my undies and tees, i almost never wear a bra home, etc etc are some reasons, but even if i were dressed to the nines, it’s just too much contact!! good for them if they can live like that, but i couldnt live like that if i was paid all the money in this world. Neither would most people. You are very normal and very right in avoiding the situation. And yes, taking the stairs is a much healthier option. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pepper said

      Leaving the door open is a bit too much to expect. Thankfully, they didn’t exactly expect it from us. They only asked if we’d like it too. Phew. Anyway they’ve started closing their doors themselves. I hope I don’t go back to using the elevator.

  13. I have various lists in my head. One of them is – “love the idea of – but would not want it to materialise”. Such neighbors would fall under that list. Every time i picture having a home it HAS to have such overly nice neighbors. But i know for a fact that if this actually happens, i would be majorly grumpy. So totally get what you are saying.

    But great that you found a healthy way around! I walk up 9 floors once a day when i visit home in Pune, makes me huff and puff and pant like a dog. But then i picture the fat in my stomach region melting away into pee and the huffing-puffing feels better.

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