Sunday, February 7, 2010

Traditional Neighborhoods - A Humane Environment?

A few days back, I called an ex-colleague of mine to touch base with her. Surprised to hear my voice after three-year gap, she inquired about my whereabouts and what am I up to these days.  I told her that I have returned to Pakistan and at present, I am living with my mother in our old house located in one of the oldest localities of Lahore. Upon hearing the name of the neighborhood where my house is situated, she said “wonderful, these are the places which still are more humane then the posh and newly built localities”.

I am quiet uncertain about the “more humane” character of the old neighborhood of Lahore; I am living in these days. Nevertheless, like any other Lahori residential locality situated in the oldest part of the city, the residents of my neighborhood also encounter numerous problems on day-to-day basis. Some of these problems are common to all old localities such as frequent power and gas outages, bad sewerage system, no solid waste management system, worsening law and order situation, lack of recreational facilities for children, eve-teasing and harassment, broken roads and streets etc whereas some of these problems are locality-specific.

The occurring frequency of these problems is so high that the populace of such localities including my own neighborhood is not left with no other way to deal with them other than ignoring such problems altogether. In doing so, they also forget that they should avoid becoming nuisance for their fellow neighbors. The same is the case with few of my neighbors, who at the moment are source of utmost annoyance for me and many other neighbors. The problem is that those neighboring houses seem very much found of Indian music. Now many readers of this blog would probably think how fondness for Indian music by my neighbors becomes an issue for me? 

Certainly, liking Indian songs or music is not a problem but playing those songs at full volume whenever one feels like listening is definitely a real problem. Just imagine the scenario that it is 12:30 am and you are fast asleep and suddenly you woke-up because of the silly noise of music entering your ears without any sort of hindrance, would not you feel like banging your head in the wall at that time? Also visualize in your mind that you have an old and ailing family member at home who is advised by the doctor for complete bed rest. But your old ailing family member finds it hard to sleep because your neighbors are entertaining themselves by listening loud music. Also think that your youngest of brother has an exam the next day but he is unable to prepare for his exam because of the loud music being played by your neighbor. What are you going to do in such circumstances?

To deal with the situation described above, my brother and myself discussed the issue with other neighbors and we decided to visit the houses of those neighbors who were fond of playing loud music at odd times, to request them if they could turn-down the volume relatively low while enjoying their favorite music because their loud music is disturbing other neighbors. However, to our surprise our effort to resolve the issue remained counter-productive. Our humble request has not yet been granted by those neighboring houses and they continue playing music at full volume and at odd times. I wonder if I should consider this behavior of my neighbors as “more humane” or as something depicting sheer “ignorance” or “lack of civic sense”. Perhaps, people living in old neighborhoods like mine would be “more humane” and more considerate of their neighbors some twenty years back or so but things have changed considerably today. 

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