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16 October 2012

Strings Attached OR Help! My Neighbour Is An Asshole!

Mr. Shawl lives downstairs and does not like me. He's never spent any time actually chatting to me, but I put a spanner in his works when I moved it by daring to own a car, and now someone's nose is going to be out of joint.

Mr Shawl and his upstairs neighbours each possess two cars. Then, there's the family immediately below me, who have a car. And then there's me. There are three floors to this building and five parking spaces. The family below me park in the landlord's spot next door, which means the two floors have enjoyed spreading out with their mostly large vehicles across five spaces. Lalala, they said. Life is good. And then along came I.

First Floor Guys are sweet. Two young men are nice to me, their father says hello when we cross on the stairs, I've only met their mother once, but smells of her cooking waft upwards on Saturday evenings making my stomach growl. As a result, when I'm out of town, First Floor gets my keys to move my car at their will.

I've only ever encountered Mr Shawl once, when he returned from holiday in Kashmir and I was on my way to the airport and he said in a very low, very aggressive voice that he had been parking there forever and I should move. I didn't. I returned from my weekend to find my car absolutely filthy. Mr Shawl employs the watchman, my maid's husband, who I had hired to wash my car. "Why is it dirty?" I asked him and he shrugged, "I don't want to wash it anymore." I know Mr Shawl is behind this because when I returned, the watchman smiled at me and I asked him to help with my bag and as soon as he reached for it, we both heard a loud voice summoning him into the house. Mr Shawl is trying to bully me out of the building. He isn't a very nice man.

I could leave, I suppose. I have a sinking feeling each time I pull in, who will I have to fight with now? and that's not very nice. Mr Shawl and the First Floor will go back to having five parking spots. The watchman and the maid will continue to be tyrannized. But I just moved in, and I like my actual flat. It's a nice flat, but it comes with SO. MANY. STRINGS. I have to nag the landlord about three things on a weekly basis: 1) my direct water connection (I'm still drinking Bisleri) 2) installing some cupboards for my clothes (I'm living out of suitcases and boxes and he promised) 3) getting me my parking space (it's his house too!). Yesterday, someone closed the door and a tile fell off. Seriously. What am I doing here?   

Mr Shawl is doing what Indian men do. I am the only man-less person in this building, therefore I am the softest target. He can't threaten me with violence, because hello, cops. (Well, not yet, let's wait and see.) He makes me SO MAD BECAUSE HE'S A FUCKING ASSHOLE AND YET HE CONTROLS MY PEACE OF MIND. My comforts. Bam! Dirty car! Bam! Stomach knotting as I walk down the stairs! Bam! It's three am, will I have to park two kilometres away? Pretty soon, I can see him getting to my cleaning lady and telling her to quit too, but she hasn't yet, so maybe that's a good thing? If I leave, it's conceding defeat. Mr Shawl and his kind will win forever.

But then there are such scary stories online. People getting killed for less. Cars being burnt. Wars being fought. How can I deal with this in a firm, above board manner? How can Mr Shawl not get to me? I'm the only one in my corner, my landlord is using me as his cat's paw to reclaim his parking space in this building. 

I should move, right? But, again? I'm tired just thinking about it.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Sympathy? Sigh.


  1. I feel you should move from that place. Even I am having my share of incidents when I was staying with my friends in individual houses.

    You cannot have ur peace of mind in such places where there is so much negativity.

  2. No way, DO NOT MOVE. You wont believe but I am in the exact same situation here in Chandigarh.. and reading this post has just made me realize that things/people are going to be same every where you go... we cant give up.. It's us against them (the despotic neighbors) And you know what if it makes u feel any better my situation is even worse coz in addition to those pathetic neighbors (WELL, IT'S JUST ONE NEIGHBOR ACTUALLY)I HAVE THIS MIND NUMBINGLY DUMB AND ANNOYING LANDLADY WHO DUZNT GIVE A TINY RAT'S ASS TO ANY OF MY LEGITIMATE TENANT WOES .. but the place is nice and it will take me forever to find another place,, so I am going on like dis,, hoping for a better tomorrow lol.. so I just have one thing to say,, Hang in there.

  3. you know...i'd say stick it out. tell the landlord to talk to Mr shawl. nag him a while. set yourself a time limit if youre still feeling ugh then revisit. also play the helpless girl card on first floor! Mr S is playing the indian male card, so you play the indian girl card. but dont go thinking maybe i still had options you know?
    however if youre miserable and think theres no hope then just go. its home. you need to not have sinking feeling. i KNOW, i had a rommate who made me tear up at the thought of coming home.
    ps. HUG

  4. Not sure if I understood right but are you saying that the family below you parks in your landlord’s spot? Why is that? Shouldn’t you be parking there?

    Just park in whichever spot is assigned to your flat and tell anyone concerned that your landlord authorised you to park there and they should take it up with him if they have a problem.

    If it persists don’t you have a building association (almost all flats have one these days)?. Go to the head and ask them to sort it out. Involve others please and don’t take this up on your own! Mr. Shawl and first floor have 2 cars and the building is clearly designed to accomodate only 1 per flat, so it should be their prob, not yours.

    Good luck!


  5. SUCH a familiar story. Next time we meet, remind me to tell you about what's been happening in our building. Sordid stuff involving murderous threats and frequently "defeated" tyres. And as for large vehicles - I've increasingly come to see the truth in the cliche about cars being penis substitutes (for some people anyway).

  6. STAY! Seriously, don't move out. Landlords are crazy and annoying and your neighbour sounds like a nightmare, but leaving isn't solving anything. See if theres anyone else in his household you can talk to, someone with a bit more sense.
    I know exactly what you're going through, sending virtual cookies and a large tub of ice cream. Good luck!

  7. No building association, no proactive landlord, just men with "penis substitutes" as Jabberwock puts it, and little old me. Here's what happens in two days: my landlord has promised (after much nagging) to have a meeting with this fellow. In on this meeting will be I, the real estate broker who got me this house and the First Floor People. I'm not sure this will do any good, but I'm considering giving notice if it doesn't. Peace of mind = top priority.
    To make it clearer, Ground Floor (Mr Shawl) and First Floor independently own their houses, second floor and I have the same landlord.
    But thank you all for your support!

  8. You know you could actually ask Mr Shawl yourself first instead of calling him an asshole here. And if parking is your only problem there, why move; sorting it would be a victory of sorts.. :)

  9. You've just inspired me to finally finish that blog post I've been planning to write about my new crazy neighbour! You're not alone! Don't give up!!!

  10. I think people like this are after two things: the thing they want with an added bonus of making you miserable. There's often not much you can do to stop them getting what they want because they are more determined and prepared to behave much worse than you ever would. What you can do is show them that their behaviour has absolutely no impact on you at all. Ignore all the nonsense with your head held high and a big smile on your face. And remember, if this is what it is like to come in contact with this person, what must it be like to actually be them 100 per cent of the time? So sad.

  11. Landlords are landlords...they use us! Sigh...I am facing similar issues when it comes to parking the car. While the owner ensured us (hubby &I) that he would sort it out...nothing has happened. We plan to move in 2-3 months. :(

    So look out for a better place, plan and then move!

    P.S: Puncture Mr. Shawl's tyre when no one's looking!

  12. Peace of mind is certainly important. But do not vacate your house silently and let that bugger have a hearty laugh. Make some noise, threaten him, yell and shut at him so that he thinks twice before he picks up on any other no man lady. Probably he has never come across someone who can bully him. Voicing your concerns will offer you a good vent. Make an ugly exit. You have nothing to loose after all!

    Personally successful tip: Dig out some housing society law on parking space and threaten a legal action against him. Enough to harass him atleast.

  13. Maybe act sweet and appeal to Mr. Shawl's paternal side? I doubt aggression will work in this case. Pull out the 'Uncle' card.

  14. Hope your rental agreement explicitly mentions parking space. If it does, then your landlord has to intervene on your behalf. If not, you're on a sticky wicket.

  15. Have some of your drunk friends to pee on his car.. even if it doesn't resolve anything, it'll give you something to giggle about..

  16. I think - move. Dealing with these people is soul-destroying. Like asking an auto driver to take you somewhere in Bangalore and immediately being asked for an extra 20 bucks - it's only 20 bucks. But why SHOULD I? Soul-destroying. It's not worth the upset.

  17. Do not move. Don't. Assholes are everywhere and parking spaces are few (in most urban spaces atleast). Speak up - the minute you do, Mr.Shawl will chicken out.

  18. where does shawl think you should park if not your spot?????????????
    what is he a goonda to not let you park in your spot? and why is your landlord not fighting for u, doesnt he want tenants?

  19. There are such FUCKING ASSHOLES everywhere, I Am quite sure he is in his 50's and has weird look? Either you could play diplomacy or you could just fight(irritate) with him. I prefer a diplomatic game, with a nice plan to get him out of the building.


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