Chennai Journal
Sunday, May 21, 2006
More Construction

I have been doing battle with the construction next door, and wound up having to get the police involved.

About a week ago, I was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by the sound of earthmoving equipment. A full blown operation was going on next door---in the middle of the night! I didn't know what to do, so I moved into the room that faces the inner court, where the noise could not be heard.

The next night the same thing happened, this time at 1:30 a.m. By this time, I had found out that there are ordinances about disturbing the peace here, and also where to call--the police emergency line at 100. Although it was difficult to make myself understood because I don't speak Tamil, I must have gotten through, because about a half hour later, the noise suddenly ceased. I dropped back off to sleep.

But not for long. The phone started ringing. I missed answering it the first time, but it rang again. It was the police administration office.

"Madam calling, sound," said the female voice. "Madam living place?" Not understanding, I said, "Yes, no sound now. Thank you. " I hung up the phone.

I went back to bed, and had just dozed off when the phone rang again. Same voice.

"Madam living place" said the voice. By now I am getting irritated, and I really don't understand. "Madam living place needing," said the voice. "You call, police come, needing living place." "No," I said, "please not come to my house now. I am sleeping. I want to sleep."

"Madam living place needing," repeated the voice. "Which street Madam living place?"

Finally I get it---she wants my address for the official record. But I am by now very tired, and very cranky---so after a few choice words at the irony of it all--- I simply took the phone off the hook.

The next day our government affairs person was able to get through to the commissioner's office to get the situation permanently resolved (since I was pretty sure the situation would reoccur with the same results every night until one or the other of us gave in). Earthmoving and other heavy construction equipment is in short supply here, so undoubtedly the contractor that is building the apartment building next door had figured to save some money by having the work done at night. Now they begin during the week at 5:00 a.m.---which is also not great, but at least it's just before I get up in the morning. With all the construction going on in Chennai, I'm sure it won't be long before they disturb someone else's sleep.

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