Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 48, Tuesday May 18, 2004






Life in an apartment building

Life in an apartment building isn't easy, especially in a country where average people are devoid of the basic sense of etiquette. With the scarcity of land rising over time, buying an apartment in some part of Dhaka has become the first option for most people wishing to own a home in this metropolitan city.

People from different social and educational background reside together in every apartment complex of Dhaka, necessitating a few major changes in attitude and behaviour and of course, mentality of the dwellers.

Although apartment structures erected by most renowned real estate companies require the buyers of the flats to formulate a code of conduct for their own benefit but the extent to which these rules are actually implemented and followed remain ambiguous in most cases. At the same time, not every single decorum of the civilised world, can be highlighted in one list of codes of conduct; some of the demeanours must come from within.

For instance, just try to recall the last time you spotted a filthy trashcan in one corner of your staircase with the handgrip and the lid missing. The staircase is no common kitchen and one must learn to accept this fact. Besides, isn't it too embarrassing to watch your guests frowning and shrinking away as they step inside your flat? But some people don't just understand these so simple things… heartbreaking indeed!

If you live in a medium sized apartment of say, 1350 square feet, then you probably send your housemaid to the roof to line the daily wash. Since the verandas are too small these days, it's impossible to dry all the clothes inside the house. But disputes among the housemaids over the event that who should occupy which wash string on the rooftop and at what time of the day, is a daily phenomenon.

Such bickering often reaches the ears of the mistresses, who themselves then get into gross fights among themselves over such trivial issues. The result is you stop saying hi/hello while you meet each other in the elevator, stop inviting your enemies (!) to your children's birthday parties or even worse, you fabricate stories about how unhappy your foe is in her conjugal life…
Last semester, I myself had a difficult time studying or even sleeping peacefully at night. The family residing in the flat right below ours somehow forgot to turn off their stereo for a week at a row. The blare of a popular number from some hit Hindi movie made my simple life unliveable for 7 days.

The musical uproar used to shake the floor and slap my ears every time I tried resting my head on the pillow. It's impossible to describe the irritation in words and I'm sure many of you out there have undergone similar annoyance in your life too.

Some people are just a big public nuisance.
When you live in one building with nine other families, you should learn to watch your steps. Raising the volume of your CD player to 40, or your flat TV to 84 definitely prove nothing smart about you.

Then there are those works of art that adorn the walls of your staircase, roof and even the garage. Small children and sometimes, even the adults make optimum use of writing tools available to them by inscribing words and phone numbers, drawing men and animals on every clean wall they see around. Now, are these any acts of civility?

Then there are residents who are uncouth enough to spit on the veranda below theirs or send cigarette ashes out of their window only to let those dirty powder rest and accumulate on someone else's windowsill.

We often forget to teach the young people the rights manners. As a result, children throw food wrappers or cans of drinks at the front door of their neighbours, press the calling bell of someone else's flat and run upstairs or kick and break those beautiful flowerpots you placed near your main door…! There is frankly no end to the hassles that one faces in his/her every day life in an apartment building.

Last Ramadan, the sehri session of a couple from a neighbouring flat used to be followed by a loud chit-chat session. Their booming voices failed my every effort to bring some quiet sleep in such early morning. Me and my family lay with our eyes wide open in our own bedrooms, damning and listening to the couple's plan to get their lazy son married to some girl from Chittagong…!

Well, like me, you too have a lot of complaints and grudges against the neighbours in your apartment building. But isn't there anything that we can do to solve these problems? Can long sighs be the only solution? Let's sit together with our neighbours, discuss and come up with some effective steps that would help to put a check on the activities of those few ill-mannered people and better our lives in these apartment buildings. Since these high-rise residential buildings are our last resorts in this congested city of scarce land and resources, let's try to learn to live in them in a decent way.

By Wara Karim

Try it out

Summer frenzy

Having freaky ideas about suddenly migrating to Antarctica? Does the very prospect of sleeping in your bathtub seem more appealing to you rather than going to sleep in your cosy bed after an entire day of hard work? Finding yourself suddenly obsessed with anything that's icy cool?

If your answers to all these questions are 'yes', then you're definitely suffering from summer sickness. And trust me, the unexpected way in which summer has finally arrived with its scorching heat and unbearable agony, this isn't surprising in the least.

Firstly, to stay ahead of summer misery, try your best to stay cool. I know this sounds hard, but a few simple steps are you require. Easy simple clothes, with heat deflecting (light) colours are definitely a must. Try to avoid clothes that stick to your body, or are even slightly irritating to the skin. Sleeveless styles are definitely 'in' right now, by being both cool and comfortable. If you have long hair that you adore and can't bear the thought of changing your hairstyle, a high ponytail or a chic French braid should take care of it. However, if you don't mind snipping off a few inches, I definitely recommend any style that will effectively succeed in keeping your hair of your shoulders.

Allow your skin to breathe; it undeniably helps! Before you relax completely and reach for that glass of icy cool soft drink, think again. These drinks are artificial; they might seem tantalisingly alluring, but also contain more than enough chemicals, sugar and extra calories than you need.

Having one a day is obviously okay, buts with the unbearable heat, hardly an hour will pass, when you won't start craving it again! Instead, opt for something more natural. Chilled fruit juices (natural) are certainly 'the' things that are perfect for this kind of weather. Apart from helping prevent dehydrating, it also stops addition of extra calories.

Don't go for the artificial ones, they are just as bad as soft drinks and will do more harm than good. If you're hardly in the mood to make natural fruit juices, even icy lemonade is a pretty good idea. If you don't mind extra calories, you can positively go ahead and indulge yourself in ice cream!

By Jennifer Ashraf



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