‘Two fat ladies’ the MC would call out and everyone would know that meant the number 88. I guess Tambola time was what made our annual society get-together fun. Co-operative Housing Societies (CHS), the formal name that represents the administration of flats in Indian cities is an evolving culture.
To my mind it evokes memories of a gang of wise old folks, freed from their normal vocations, who would be our bean counters and get the bad job done. They would not worry that it would remain a thankless task. I just want to doff my hat to the Gents & Ladies who deserve a word of thanks for their efforts.
Unlike the preference of my relatives down South to achieve a life-time ambition of constructing an independent home, most of us in cities like Pune and Mumbai prefer to own flats that come in varying sizes to suit your budget. And it is form of convenience as well that we very rarely acknowledge.
I own a 2 BHK (Bedroom,Hall, Kitchen goes the lingo) in Pune since 2005 and have a great regard for the gang of wise men who run the show for us. It is a small society of less than 50 flats that would be regarded to be old-fashioned nowadays given the lack of standard amenities like swimming pool, gym, and club-house. Instead we prize a nice garden in the shape of an island that sits between the four wings that make the society. All our action including the Annual get-together and the important Tambola game is held here.
Usually we take little note of the silent men at work who run the minutiae of our daily life in the society – taking care of the common facilities, ensuring people pay their monthly society maintenance on time or get docked a fine of 5 rupees every time they miss the deadline, keeping an eye on the bachelor tenants who are likely to have wild parties on the weekends, ensuring vehicles are not parked on the road, advising us of wise practices in the areas of waste management, energy conservation and water harvesting – the list is practically endless.
The society celebrates all the popular festivals and important days like our Republic Day and Independence Day in particular. From the popular Ganeshotsav to Christmas Carols – we celebrate it all. The elders are very clever in tapping the enthusiasm of the young children who just need an excuse to get together and celebrate. They can be safely given the job of arranging the chairs, attending to the pandals, clearing up the mess left after the event.
Little is understood and appreciated of the careful management that is undertaken of the funds collected every month. Being a Banker, I don’t fail to note that the frugal management ensures that the funds of the society are on the rise and they are carefully invested in Fixed Deposits with our Bankers. It is a traditional society that takes pride in its appearance – practically every 3-4 years they ensure that the buildings are given a fresh coat of paint and repairs to attend to cracks in the building façade are a regular affair.
Typical of being a small community, rival groups do exist and we do get to see a miniature version of electoral politics as and when the Society elections are held. But thankfully that lasts for a brief period and people then return their attention to the work of smoothly running the society.
I have been abroad for a few years now so have lost sight of our society’s activities, though I can well imagine that everything runs in order in the same old manner. The AGM agenda, minutes are practically the same and our Secretary’s penchant to use ‘green ruled’ paper seen otherwise only in Government offices remains unvanquished. And the Tambola rounds are played with the same fervour as ever – did the MC call out, ‘Sweet sixteen, never been kissed’?