Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Grouses on Modern Apartment Living

For most singletons like me, living in apartments and condominiums is the ideal. You have more space then you would have renting a room, and you do not have to bother with tending to a garden and all the little extras' you would have to bother with if you live in a house. Besides apartments and condominiums are much more affordable as landed property becomes more expensive, especially the nearer it is to the city.

So just like every other KLite, I wholeheartedly embraced the concept of apartment living. I almost bought the dream sold by property developers who produced enticing colourful brochures of gleaming high-rise facades, beautifully landscaped gardens, Olympic sized swimming pools and interiors that were designed to look like hotel suites. The message being that you could buy this dream for prices ranging from only RM145,000,/RM160,000/RM180,000/RM200,000. Which is quite affordable for a middle class Malaysian.

What these developers failed to tell us is that upon buying the dream, you would look out of your windows on Sunday mornings and find that your neighbours in the opposite block decided to hang their washing to dry on their living room windows instead of the backyard, and when you look down at the pool gleaming in the morning sun, you would find that a bunch of shady characters are hanging around there (foreign construction worker types). Pardon me for being a snob. But what are these types doing lounging around the pool of a middle to high-end condo?

Oh and when you get into the lift on a Monday morning, you have a tough time trying not to step on spittle, the lift buttons have magic colour ink on them, and somebody actually ate instant cup noodles and had left the half eaten contents and the cup on the floor. The cup tips over and falls while you are in the lift, and the watery contents spill out creating quite a mess. You try not to get your shoes wet as you gingerly make your way out of the lift.

The lift ordeal of course does not end there. Being an observer to the mess created by these very uncivilised sorts is better than actually being in the lift with them! Some will actually jump up and down (grown-ups of course) as if a lift ride is the most exciting thing in the world. Others will leer at you and try to make conversation. Not that I am unfriendly, but any sane person would not do themselves any good by speaking to these types.

After a few horror rides like these in the building where I live, I actually prefer to be alone in the lift or only get in if there are families and 'normal' people. So I actually spend a lot of time in the lift lobby waiting for the right mix of people before I get into the lift. Ideally that should not be the case. But when you have a management office that does not see the merit of installing a CCTV system in the lift, you have to contend with such!

Depending on the type of people who inhabit your floor and the one above, will determine how peaceful your home life will turn out to be. My friend who lives in a condo in Ampang actually has a family next door who are constantly screaming and yelling at each other. Sometimes they even fight in the corridor. I have a neighbour on the floor above who fancies himself a singer. He is constantly screaming out songs at what I would call inappropriate times. Try late at night when everyone is trying to sleep or on weekend mornings. Moron I think is too mild a word for a person like that. If at all they are to be called a person.

Safety of course is another issue. Every apartment or condominium will have a guard post with some uniform beings in it. The concept of 'safe living' and 'security' is also one of the things that developers will proudly advertise on their colourful brochures. It is of course a mockery. Or for lack of quality it has come to be so. In fact more people have been murdered, raped, molested, harassed and had their homes broken into within the 'safe sanctuary' of apartment living which most companies that manage apartment buildings would rather not admit to.

So what makes apartment living so perilous? It is the fact that most apartment owners do not practice a sense of discrimination when renting out their premises. What you get is rowdy college students and very uncouth construction worker types as your neighbours. How do these people afford the rent which averages around RM900 or RM1,000 at the minimum? Why they stay ten to an apartment of course! This is where the building management have failed in their role. Even if the owners do not give a damn on how badly their homes get trashed by such communal living, the management should impose some rules to ensure quality of living for the rest of us who bought into the dream sold by those enticing colourful brochures.

Another aspect that mars apartment living for the civilised among us is the increasing number of foreigners, students and migrant workers alike who opt to live in apartments which they promptly try to turn into communal ghettos. I have no issue with living under one roof with people of different nationalities, but their attitudes definitely leaves much to be desired. After observing how these Africans, Arabs and Bangladeshis behave, one begins to understand why rape is such a rampant crime in the African continent, why Indonesia is the way it is, and why so many books have been written about the plight of Arab women. When one is given the opportunity to live in a peaceful and on most accounts very civilised country such as Malaysia, the neat thing to do is to try and emulate some of the good Malaysian values that makes Malaysia what it is, instead of giving us Malaysians a taste of why your country/continent is the way it is!

As I write this, I know there are so many more trips I will be making to the management office of the building where I live, which runs like probably the laziest department in the civil service. I will probably be shooting off some very hard-hitting letter to the newspapers too, if the response to my complaints are not given the due notice it deserves. However I know that my woes and those of many other apartment dwellers like me will not end there. It will only end when those that manage apartment buildings work to ensure quality of living. For example all those ghetto types that hang around the olympic sized swimming pool at night till the wee hours of the morning, tell them to go back to their units. But of course that would be no fun to them as their homes are cramped with only places to sleep, sooner or later they will get the drift and move on to where they belong. I look forward to cleaner lifts then......

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