When my wife works from home, the drilling begins in the neighbour’s flat upstairs and she runs with her laptop from room to room to find a quiet spot.
The construction workers begin work early in the morning as they have to make a lot of holes in the walls and they take only 30 minutes off for a quick lunch, and it is during this brief period of peace and quiet, she concludes teaching the Zoom class.
For many people, working from home is a much better alternative during these Pandemic times where every colleague is suspect of harbouring a virus and every kid a villain without a mask, and every surface, desk or chair is teeming with germs that look like those tension-relieving rubber balls, but with tentacles sticking out.
Unholy racket for three months
After inquiring around, my wife found out that the neighbour, who is living somewhere else, decided to upscale his apartment and add a jacuzzi maybe and most probably, also a helipad, and he had got permission from the housing association to make this unholy racket for three months.
The workers started improvising, or so my wife and I concurred, when they got a tile-cutting machine and another drill, to strip the kitchen floor.
When you cannot even hear yourself think then it becomes impossible to write a humour column and I got an email from the editor complaining the column was not making anyone chuckle.
“We want funny stuff,” he said. “And no politics, as that is not amusing,” he added.
We then heard that a meeting of the housing association was held with the neighbour, as everyone now was either working from home, or studying in their apartments.
Nothing much changed after the meeting, except that the workers now started fighting with each other in high-pitched voices and it seemed someone would be killed by a construction tool.
My wife started shopping online for a small woven coir basket. “To carry my sanitiser spray, hand wipes, plastic face shield, and a box of face masks. It will be much more peaceful at school,” she said.
“Why don’t you go out and sit in the backyard. You can write there in the mornings when it is quiet,” she advised.
I took my neck pillow (the one which everyone carries on their necks when travelling by plane) and sat on it as the hard stone bench in the backyard, was well, stone hard. I was heeding the advice of the work guru to make my work station comfortable and ergonomic.
The city of Bengaluru where we are living, blooms every winter and turns into a garden with various pretty plants and trees showing off their colourful flowers.
The huge tree in our backyard
One huge tree in our backyard turns pink with large pretty flowers that look like bunched corsages that are worn by girls on their dresses on prom night.
While the show of flowers is all nice and charming, the trees tend to shed the flowers as soon as possible as if they were getting rid of the embarrassing prettiness, and the ground underneath turns slippery with the large sticky flowers.
Nearby, is a very old almond tree, which is inhabited by busy squirrels, and has huge leaves that look like baby elephant ears. The leaves do not fall dreamily to the ground like most other leaves, but come spiralling to the ground like failed parachutes and land with a thud.
After a day in the noisy and messy nature, I returned to my flat and switched on the air-conditioner to cut down the noise, but then our cook started using the mixer grinder to grind her spices.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi