Living On A High

We shifted to Gurgaon from Delhi six years back into a high rise apartment. When you are staying in the capital, the 4th floor is the highest you go. The city doesn’t boast of too many apartment complexes besides the ones built by DDA (Delhi Development Authority). DDA since its inception in 1957 has been ceaselessly building unimaginative flats in tiresome yellows or pinks. Unfortunately the escalating real estate price makes this one of the few viable options for many a Delhite.

The husband even in his penniless stage was very sure that he will never buy one of those staid flats. Gurgaon with its promise of high end living and picturesque complexes beckoned to us. So when it was finally time to buy our own nest we happily settled for the Millennium city. The artistic impressions of our complex circulated by our builder had me excited and I couldn’t stop gushing about it to my friends. We had booked a condo on the 7th floor. I got a lot of positive feedback on the pleasures of staying up north; a mosquito free, dust free existence, cool breezy evenings and amazing 360 degree views. I was in “seventh heaven”. Only one of my friends expressed a grave concern, what happens if there’s an earthquake? We may die a crushing death, but at least we’ll have fewer floors on our head, the husband had retorted.

We finally shifted to our own pad. The views were stunning, the rain never looked better. Having a cup of tea in our balcony to the sounds of birds with the soft breeze caressing our face was sheer bliss.

I was sporting a new look, the windswept look. Our complex for some mysterious reason is extremely windy. Initially it was charming; the constant tinkling of wind chimes, having to hold on to your dress for your dear life. But imagine hot, sultry, 42 degree Celsius afternoons to the sounds of whoo whoo and constant rattling of windows! It was eerie and depressing. And when it’s summers can ACs be far behind? 16 ACs (one for each floor) dripping water on top of each other in unison is definitely not music for the ears especially when you are trying to sleep after a hard day’s work. Two years back we installed split ACs and finally put an end to our agony. The installation process on the other hand was one horrific story, fodder for another post perhaps?

I had also acquired a new hobby, bird watching (the winged variety). Gurgaon is wonderfully green with lots of open spaces making it a haunt for exotic birds. When you are a city-bred brat you grow up seeing mostly crows and pigeons and every other bird seems exotic. So understandably I was maha excited each time I spotted birds in stunning colours, shapes and sizes. Even the stray peacock strutting its stuff had me behaving like an over excited kid.

The bird community must have sensed the warm, welcoming vibes emanating from the Ray household. Our AC compressors soon became the favoured hangout zone for pigeons. And where there are pigeons there is pigeon shit, loads and loads of it - on the compressors, balcony railings, wash stands, even my hapless plants were not spared.

We saw quite a few love stories unfold in our balcony, singles ready to mingle meet, settle, furious coupling ensues and baby pigeons make an appearance. My daughter even played Mother Teresa to an injured baby pigeon. She named it Peech (from the baby sounds it made) nursed it for days and grew hopelessly attached to it. When it died she was inconsolable.

Our reputation had now grown in leaps and bounds. The news of our compassion soon spread like wild fire. We now have pigeons flocking in all our balconies, on the floor, on the wash stand, even on the bathroom ledge. Dumb, desperate creatures that they are, they even try nesting on our kitchen balcony floor laying down a bed of borrowed broomsticks. The husband in an attempt to scare them off often splashes huge quantities of water at them, inadvertently giving them a much needed bath. In fact the other day he just said f%*&@ off and they actually made a hasty retreat. Wow! We have managed an incredible feat; our pigeons can now actually comprehend English! Unfortunately they keep coming back for more lessons.

The other day I was reading somewhere that the pigeon population is increasing alarmingly because the kites which prey upon them are becoming extinct. No wonder they spend many happy hours on the Ray balcony. They take care of my cardio though. I often have to run to the balcony menacingly to shoo them off. I am seriously considering training a bunch of them to deliver notes to my loved ones. The courier guys anyway do a lousy job. I could also export pigeon poop. I have heard that in Morocco, they use it to soften leather before dyeing it.

Last summer we had a termite scare and recently a few monkeys have been spotted in the vicinity. My mind is going into an overdrive thinking of possibilities. We also had an earthquake scare, swinging chandeliers, swaying fans and all that. But we managed to race to the ground floor in record-shattering time.

But these are minor glitches. I still feel elated seeing the various flowers in bloom in our complex. Walking down the shaded pathways, I feel rejuvenated at the sound of excited chatter of children playing in the park.

I’d still like to think that I am living on a high in a high rise.


  1. Your pigeon plan sounds interesting! Even I'm scared to live in high rise building apts hence decided to stay with an individual house which is no taller than 3 stories ;)

    I doubt if I would ever want to think of moving into a lifestyle of such high rise living :)

  2. I cant imagine how birds of the feathered kind deal with the delhi summers, but for the warmth of the Rays..

  3. Mohan : At the risk of sounding like a PR machine for condo owners : It's a boon for working couples like us. The maintenance, security is taken care of. All ammenities are just an intercom away. And never say is full of surprises.

    Madhusudhan: Avijit behaves like a Ninja warrior. The warm vibes must be coming from the floors above.

  4. Suddenly had a vision of Avijit in full Ninja costume, yelling "f&$% off" at the hapless pigeons !! Managed to disturb everyone's lunch by snorting rather ungracefully. Oh and I know it says SuzyQ, but it's me, Sug.

  5. ROFL, I have to buy that Ninja costume NOW!

  6. Extremely vivid, but I'd still love to see some snaps :-)

  7. @magiceye: Indeed

    @Raja: The pigeon community is extremely camera shy. Every time we tried clicking them they would flutter off. Very Greta Garbesque.

    Will try again :)

  8. loved your post...the export of poop had me in splits!...anyways your plants grow better with it!
    high rise is better in these days of labour problems and security scares...I had a tough time maintaining my stand alone building that my little apartment is heaven now!

  9. Thank you Nalini and I love reading your comments.

  10. That was indeed funny considering that I am also struggling day and night to keep away the flocks of pigeons from my balconies. I have successfully fought with a gang of big smelly rats who decided to invade my kitchen and later most part of my house. They cut through the wooden cabinets , ocassionally jumped on my bed at night and ran away through the exhaust opening when I became aggressive!Finally A pest controller came to my rescue. Sometimes a group of violent looking monkeys come knocking at my kitchen window and if I don't respond politely they prefer to lounge at my balocnies(chatting, snoring, picking lices) making those areas inaccessible for hours.I havn't seen them recently- may be they are also sick of the pigeon shit which covers almost everything in my balconies.
    I have finally decided to imprison myself in my own house by erecting some sort of net and grill covering to keep away the nasty birds( hope Maneka Gandhi is not reading this).They can come and have a look at me but no more shitting!

  11. Big smelly rats! How alarming.

    And Monkeys are a menace, my previous neighbourhood in Delhi was infested with them. We had instances of children being attacked, kitchens being raided for food.

    And imagine spotting a baby monkey sitting on your sleeping child's back( she was barely six then). All I remember is the screams. Thankfully the monkey made a peaceful exit.

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