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Monday, January 29, 2007

Rules Of the people, For the people, By the People

My portfolio as Secretary to the building association involves a lot of rule enforcement in the complex. These rules are not set by me, period. It is set by the stakeholders that is the (permanent) residents of the building and merely enforced by the association, the Secretary being the vehicle to enforce. Like one cannot blame the traffic cop for stopping you when the signal is red and neither should you dash across the red light if the cop is not in sight, (both incidents happened today), similarly one should not antagonize the Secretary for enforcing the rules.
Few incidents that leave a bad taste in my mouth-
We have strictly designated one gate as in-gate and another as out-gate for safety reasons- one person repeatedly uses the in-gate for going out on his bike- almost thrashed the Security for stopping him. I thought we should resort to gandhigiri- ask the Security to blow a trumpet, clap and garland him every time he leaves through the in-gate.
Rule enforced- no 2nd car allowed inside as we want to use the extra space for creating children’s play area. A resident is using a car park belonging to another absentee owner for her 2nd car. Association decides to collect rent for the same as the owner has defaulted in terms of paying maintenance. Lady comes back to us that she will discuss with her husband and get back. I vaguely suggest that there are others willing to pay for it and move their car in. No response from her even after a whole month has passed by. I really hate to ask them for it again and again.
A neighbour as put a clothes line in the common area…and it’s being shared by two residents.
We rent out our association hall for parties thrown by residents- it has a hall, and bedroom, kitchen, bath attached to it. Rs 500/day of usage. People question why are they being charged? Do they understand there is cleaning charges, usage of chairs, possible damage to the walls/ TT Table and other fixtures built in. And incase they rent a decent hall outside, they have to pay atleast Rs 6000-8000. Someone called up saying he wished to use it for accommodating his relatives for a few days. Good idea but I needed to check with the committee members as we had not spelled out that staying was allowed. He began to push me into allowing him to use it for accommodation. Well, sir, I do not fix the rules, I do need to discuss with the committee members. We did allow him and added the facility to the rule book.
Cricket and football not allowed in the building. A lady said please do something as her son is unable to play. We suggested TT and Badminton (facility available). She says – but he does not have a partner. Well what can I do? Procreate? Who stopped her from producing a partner for her son at the apt time?
A lady stopped the kids from even standing near her new car (civic) for fear of scratches. Since her son who was driving the civic had little civic sense himself, he dashed it real bad and the car ended in the garage. Divine Providence?
People calling at odd-hours to discuss issues/ complaints. Finally I had to put an end to it by placing a request that all complaints will be taken only at the meetings and only if the person involved is present, and I surprise myself by being strict about it.
People questioning the association why a particular commitment has not been met. Why don’t you volunteer to complete the job? Left to me I have my priorities clear- my family, my job and then the association activities. Something which was clear when I assumed the office.
I was told this is a thankless job when I accepted it. I realized, but wanted to do it, set an example, to bring the people together. It pains me to admit that barring one picnic and another competition for kids, I have not been able to organize. The garba/ new year party all went kaput as none were willing to sign up in advance/ participate/ volunteer. Even the regulars were cheesed off and chickened out- (there, I support both the non veggies and the vegans by using both terms).
Can we as individuals change? Can we become more involved in the rest of the world around us? If I had the time, I would have done much more.
I could manage to change the security, enforce the one-car only rule, self type the complex directly and get copies to all, regularize monthly meetings among other minor things.
If only the landscape guy respected my schedule and came as per the appointment I gave him, I could try my hand at bettering the greenery around. If only Mr Civic was more willing to give up his parking slot in exchange for a new one created by the association, we could formalize the children’s play area. If only people pasted the parking stickers on their cars so that the rampant entry of outside cars could be controlled. If only people were more cooperative and willing to accommodate, then things would move a lot faster. After all, we are not running the government here where stakes are much higher!


Artnavy said...

as i often say- secretary /police/ TC / refree- all get blamed as much for doing their job well as when they do not do it

u try and that is great. a far cry from me who is one of the truant members at most society meetings.

Keep a complaint box. How about - a tupperware party, use the extra hall as a dance class, view a movie together on the terrace, pot luck for the 50 plus women( we all love our mom's cooking)- younger set may get too competetive

i better stop- this is a mini post here- sorry

Priya said...

Thaz a tuff job you are doing right ther. People need everything right ther and don't care about others. Hmm they need to grow up.

Big Zed said...

Your post is really, really funny. I'm sure its not funnny for you but I had a good laugh reading it. Just gives you and insight on how people are.
Sorry you have to go through this.

By Deepa and Supriya said...

I know it is absolutely thankless..back when I was in my undergrad, I signed up to be hostel secretary..... I know exactly how it feels.
WHy don't you just print this post and add the names of all people involved and anonymously post it in the building for all to read...maybe embarassment would coerce some people to change their behavior..not a very good suggestion I agree...but still.

Anonymous said...

wow.. dint know staying in apartments can be such a mess.. never stayed in one yet. :)

Fuzzylogic said...

Whoa!its indeed such a hard job to manage people who just don't get it and who do not co operate in any sense.You seem to be doing a great job though what with balancing this along with the family and twins and your job.I think its fair enough that people ought to pay for the apartment halls,it's the norm here in the west too.And regarding the parking indeed civic sense is something they ought to have to enforce any laws.The gandhigiri concept made me smile!But hey if it works then good.You really seem to be doing a thankless job.I do hope they see the good points you are presenting to improve the conditions there and appreciate it.

Kowsalya Subramanian said...

I am having tough job in co-ordinating with just 4 families in our semi-independent flats. But if I take a decision since I didn't get proper response then Mr. Right will come and question me :(

People are not willing to co-operate at all.

The Visitor said...

Seems to be a week for complaints (crib week) LOL. Are you a piscean by any chance? (I am doing a study on the zodiac) :D See posts by Boo and Gounder Brownie.

Ah - secretary of a housing society? How did you get trapped? I thought that you were far too intelligent to get caught. I guess it must have been in a moment of (youthful) exuberance, or soon after you saw Lage raho Munna Bhai LOL. But seriously, I pity you; how much longer is your sentence?

On a practical note- break-up your task into sub tasks and delegate to releveant persons/committee. Making the place green - garden committee, events committee (organising festivals, children's events etc.), hall/public utilities (lifts, swimming pool, play area) committee (for deciding on rules on usage of these facilities) and so on. The advantages - the work gets distributed and there are more people involved in running things (more people to back you up too in situations of conflict).
All the best for the rest of your term, and thank God that you aren't an MLA or MP. :)
PS: Thanks for your comment on my non-existent post :)
PPS: One good comment deserves another.
PPPS: Sorry ITW, I dont comment as frequently as I used to or would like to; you and arty post just too toooo often for me to keep pace.