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.