Monday, November 30, 2009

The week from hell in Kalyani Nagar (Nov 23-29...)

I had a crazy week. There are crazy ones, and then there are ones like this one, when it's all so clear, my neighborhood is simply an overflow center from the nearby mental hospital.

I guess things started getting bad around Tuesday night... Leena picked me up from work Tuesday and told me about a goat in our building that Mr. C. got as an Eid al-Adha sacrifice (he's a Muslim, despite having a very non-Muslim last name) and how the watchman was appointed goatherd for the week to deal with it.

Tuesday night around 3am or so some of the feral dogs on the street (yes, in Indian cities there's packs of feral dogs all over, probably thriving because it's tropical, no cold winter to kill them off, and Indians in general litter like crazy so there's plenty of food there for the dogs, and plenty of rats as well) attacked it, wherever it was nearby. Dogs barking and growling, a goat bleating and screaming, and eventually joined by men yelling while they tried to break the dogs away...

If only that was the worst, it wouldn't have been such a rotten week...

Tuesday there was a big, huge, pink festival sort of tent in the next building's parking lot, a sure sign of noise to come. The buildings are very close, so that's like right underneath our window. Tuesday night there was lots of banging and clanging as caterers were setting up folding chairs and dropping trays of silverware and all that kind of thing. (And I must be turning into one hell of a curmudgeon to be upset by happy events, like weddings...)

Wednesday night we heard crying pretty nonstop from Mrs. R.'s apartment, and lots of people coming and going with the door wide open. It was sad sort of crying, which is unusual since about the only time we hear her is when she's screaming in anger at servants, laborers, neighbors and police officers... We guessed, and later confirmed that Mr. R. died.

Thursday morning was by far the worst... My morning nap was interrupted early by Mrs. R.'s guests' drivers outside yelling and washing cars and making a lot of noise.

And then a little before dawn Mr. C. drunkenly roaring at the watchman to get his goat back here immediately. So, the goat came back, and I don't know if it was pain, cold, hunger, boredom or just wanted attention but it was screaming and bleating almost nonstop. Probably not hunger because it would stop occasionally to eat some leaves around, then scream some more, and probably not cold because it's not that cold for a furry animal. At one point even Leena woke up yelling "if that fucking thing doesn't shut up I'm gonna to kill it myself."

Oh, but even that got drowned out eventually, a little before 8am... That's when the band for the wedding under the pink tent started warming up. Like most bands in India that play at weddings and festivals, they have no skill, they're probably doing it because their father did it, and his father did it... It was just the trumpet players and the drummers getting warmed up, and none of them playing the same song at the same time or the same speed so it was just cacophonic noise, and deafeningly loud, echoing off all the buildings with not a quiet spot in the apart.

One Thanksgiving that I was thankful to go to work!

Even now Mrs. R.'s guests' drivers are still making noise all around the place, with nothing to do but talk, and for laborers, talk is never done in a quiet, conversational tone of voice, always yelled across the yard. At least as the weekend wore on it seemed to be wealthier and wealthier visitors, as Mercedes Benz cars don't make as much noise as Marutis...

The goat was screaming until Saturday afternoon, when after a few really, really painful ones it was quiet. Shortly after that I saw some guys loading what appeared to be wet butcher blocks onto their motorcycles and ride off, so I assume that was finished. The gossip amongst the servants is that Mr. C. did it far back in his yard, right under Mrs. R.'s apartment and called her name for her attention before slaughtering the goat, just to offend her, since by religious she's a strict vegetarian who doesn't kill things, and a freshly grieving widow...

While hardly anyone gets along in this building, the two of them have the most raging, long running feud going on that's left each of them slightly bloodied over the years from physically fighting. It's their feud that brings the police here more than any other.

I've been so stressed out this week that I've broken down and hit the chemicals... Potato chips, mainly. I was doing good for a few weeks at not eating any and getting slightly less chubby, but when it gets stressful resistance is just so much harder... I come home from work and just stuff my mouth with that junk and it's like an instant touch of relief with the crunch and the salt. But even a few days of that and I feel fatter and have more trouble breathing and pimples...

On the more ironic front, last week I began to read Hamlet for the first time. On Wednesday I read the scene in which Claudius tells Hamlet:

'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature Hamlet,
to give these mourning duties to your father:
But you must know, your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term
To do obsequious sorrow.
An understanding simple, and unschool'd:
For, what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense...

And then a few hours later, the commonness showed, and a neighbor died.

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