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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

High rise culture

The ultimate rulebook if you live in a Gurgaon tower

Welcome to the jungle...

Apparently, there’s something sacred called ‘high rise culture’. The term frequently makes an appearance on the notice boards of the gated apartment complex I call home, usually in the admonishing notes of the harried building manager. The poor man seems perennially aghast that residents should indulge in such unnatural activities as unknowingly pushing plant pots off balcony parapets and doing elaborate Suryanamaskars that involve throwing mugfuls of water onto the heads of unsuspecting early morning walkers below. Having often been terrorised by ardent Surya devotees, that note had me nodding in righteous indignation.

Well, the ultimate rulebook hasn’t yet been written but I assume the list of things that are also against ‘high rise culture’ include:

1. Accidentally bumping into someone’s parked car and then driving off without even waving at the close circuit cameras.

2. Using a piece of gym equipment for 21 minutes when the notice says you can use it for just 20.

3. Relieving yourself in the shower before you get into the pool; relieving yourself in the pool before you get in the shower.

4. Yelling obscenities during RWA meetings.

5. Running up a huge bill at the building grocer’s and leaving for a long assignment abroad without paying it.

6. Looking through your neighbour though both of you sit sipping your morning chai and gazing out at the world below in adjacent balconies at exactly the same time every morning.

7. Refusing to get out of the lift even though it began singing that protesting I’m-overloaded-tune when you stepped in.

8. Refusing to coo at sundry babies and pet dogs.
This last one particularly is a serious breach of ‘high rise culture’. Think about it: openly expressing your dislike for powdered babies or fluffy animals will mark you out as… as Hannibal Lecter’s sibling! It’s not a secret you want everyone to know. Really.

I have to be honest. I haven’t always been a properly, uh, high-rise-cultured person: I’m grumpy in the mornings and the thought of even acknowledging that familiar stranger in the next flat is sometimes too much to bear, and heck, I can’t help it if the lift likes me so much it has to sing a tune the moment I step into it. The only way to deal with that is to wedge myself in and accidentally-on-purpose displace some excessively polite or verbally challenged (same thing) other person. However, I can honestly say that I have never ever peed in the building pool or used gym equipment for more than 20 minutes. Indeed, it’s a miracle if I can bring myself to use either of those remarkable facilities at all.

Of course, there are paranoid days when I wonder if some grandmaster of high rise culture is keeping tabs on me. Like, did I commit some serious breach when I got loudly hysterical after the lights went off and I had to spend half an hour in a dark lift stuck between the 18th and 19th floors? Is it alright to always overtake the dawdling morning walkers more keen on gossip than exercise and was it okay to yell at the prayerful 10th floor Suryanamaskari who overturned a lota of water onto my unsuspecting head?

Yup, the rules of ‘high rise culture’ are tricky. One day, perhaps, I’ll induce the building manager to draw up a hardbound volume that lays them all out.
Without too much luck, it could be a bestseller in Gurgaon.

Note: This piece appeared in an edited form in a local paper called Friday Gurgaon //">

The picture is not the work of Manjula Narayan; it was sourced off the net. And, oh, in case you're a stalker, that's not where I actually live.

1 comment:

  1. LOL nicely written and sounds just about right :)
    -- Aekta