Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hello, I'm Mr. Drill, your new neighbour

"It's 5:30 now," I imagine the owners of apartments 13b, 15b and 14a connive over a teleconference call, "let's wake up the Bhatias." And then it begins. Thak-thak-thak-thak says a hammer on the upper floor. Wheeeeeeeooooo says the drill machine from below. And from the flat next door come shrieks and shouts of labourers and a bone-vibrating slam. What space do sleep, conversation or silent thought have here, in this chaos? Plates vibrate off tables, remote controls off their resting places, cracks on walls stretch from ceiling to floor. Construction work out there spells destruction in here. As I begin writing, some intuitive guy has begun drilling.

I ran upstairs in a huff on one particularly noisy day and discovered why the 15th floor home had taken over nine months to do up. The floor was of wood, as was the ceiling, the walls, the commode and the bathtub. It was, by far, the most senseless house I had ever seen. Nine months of noise in the morning, afternoon and evening and this is what they come up with? But hope was alive, for their work was gradually ending, as was the next-door neighbours'.

Then one day, the floor went 'tap'. It was a soft tap, as if someone had knocked once. A while later, there came another tap, with more conviction. By the third tap I knew we were dead - construction was about to begin below us. We were in the unenviable position of being under siege by powertools since early 2003. And when this is done, I suspect the guy above will discover his house is a monstrosity and tear everything down.

A silent afternoon. What I'd give for a silent, peaceful afternoon without drilling and sawing and hammering.

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