I don’t suppose a gated community is designed to promote good neighbourly relations. That residents in my apartment complex barricade themselves behind an iron gate, manned by security staff, 24×7, shows that we don’t think much of neighbours, of our neibhourhood. I am not suggesting those in gated communities loath their neighbours, but they don’t love them either. And Chennai’s OMR, where I happen to live, is mushrooming with gated communities.
Our residential complex, Mantri Synergy, has come up next to Hindustan University campus at Padur, an urbanising village. And Mantri’s residents aren’t friendly with students as well as villagers in our neighbourhood. Our security staff at the main gate are accustomed to dealing with boisterous college guys from next door zipping through our driveway in noisy motor bikes; or creating a scene with the security staff at the main gate.
More recently, we had a protesting group of neighbourhood villagers trying to gate-crash into Mantri’s, bad-mouthing us for discharging effluent from Mantri’s sewage treatment plant (STP) into the main road, raising a stink in the neighbourhood. Our real-estate developer didn’t provide for proper pipeline to carry excess flow from STP, and this has resulted in the effluent discharge in our neighbourhood. Affected villagers, I gather, have threatened to protest-dump their solid waste on our road-front.
‘ Love Thy Neighbour’ isn’t the ground rule in our gated community. Which is why, I guess , Jesus H Christ wouldn’t have been our neighbour on OMR.
Lesser mortals, however, opt to live in a gated community because it gives them a sense of security. And every residential community in OMR evolves its own security procedures. At Akshayas, they say, a visiting tradesman or service technician gets an entry pass to be signed by apartment resident, and returned at the gate on exit. Elsewhere, a plastic visitor’s badge is handed out on entry, and collected back after the visit, at exit gate.
Our AC technician Rahim, who has been around places says the security routine at Mantri Snergy is fairly cumbersome, clerical, and therefore time-consuming. Idea is, complicated procedure makes residents feel more secure. It took Rahim over 20 minutues, and a run-around in mid-day sun – from the gate to my D block apartment, and then to PropCare - to complete the security requirements . And , by the time he was through with the security routine we had a power shutdown. Rahim and helper Suresh had to come the next day to service our air-conditioner, and, presumably, they went through the security drill, all over again. No servicing guy can get his entry form stamped at PropCare during lunch hour – 1 and 2 p m – and no one is allowed in after office-hours, 6 p m.
A service technician declares his name, cell number, flat owner’s name and number at the main gate. Details are entered in a ledger, and also filled in on a printed permit form, which is rubber-stamped at the gate and handed over to the technician for signature of the apartment owner. The permit form is then taken to PropCare - Mantri estate maintenence office at the clubhouse – where it is rubber-stamped again. Rahim was allowed out, after his job was done, when he handed back at the exit gate the permit paper – twice-stamped, and signed by me.
The permit form Rahim brought for my signature contained an undertaking that read: I hereby authorise the above personal to work in my flat …..I will completely abide by the ‘interior guidlines’. I take full responsibility of (should read ‘for’) their character, incidents & actions. And below the dotted line on which I signed was this punchline, in bold letters – SAFETY IS IN YOUR HANDS.
Filed under: Chennai