Yes, Mr President

The greyheads eventually triumph because the younger ones are too busy.

Post retirement most people go through certain amount of withdrawal symptoms. How do I make up lost income? How do I spend my time?

Am I a nobody? After weighing various options one generally finds that there are no takers to satisfy one’s expectations. However, there is one avenue that will, if not anything else, provide a balm to the hurt ego. That is the position of president of the residents’ welfare association.

With apartments spreading like the plague across big cities, a major requirement is to have a  owners’ association. Each complex may call it by any name but ultimately there is a caste situation that exists. Owner or Tenant. Invariably, one has to be an owner to hold the post of office bearer.

When residents move in to a new complex, the early settlers flaunt a sense of superiority and tend to pull rank. They are the ones that moot the idea of a welfare association. The problem starts when some pushy individual insists that there should be bye-laws. There is a frenetic search through friends from other complexes to get a copy of the bye-laws. Once you print that, it is like releasing several monsters all at once.

For the rest of the foreseeable future, the bye-laws are interpreted the way one wants to. There is generally one bye-law pundit whose word is considered law. Every now and then some resident suggests a change in the bye-law and a special general body meeting is called. By the end of the meeting the proposer will be made to feel like Napoleon after Waterloo.

In the initial stages the position of president goes to the person who speaks with some authority about his or her experience in other complexes. In a couple of years groups tend to get polarised. There will be a revolt from the so called ‘young Turks’. But like most spring revolutions, this one also is short lived. The greyheads eventually triumph because the younger ones are too busy earning a living and cannot spare time for such activities.
To become the president of the association has several advantages.

The first thing you notice is that the security personnel salute you every time they sight you. Then you realise that the plumber and electrician come to address your complaints much quicker. But there is also a downside. One would not like to be woken up at 6.00 am by a resident complaining that his toilet has got blocked and that it should be repaired immediately.

For a retired person there are several advantages. For one, you get to sit in an office with all the attendant paraphernalia. The admin staff accepts you as their czar for that one year of your term. But they also use you to pass the buck when uncomfortable decisions have to be taken.

By about the fifth year, residents could not care less who is the president. They know that like the government, it is the babus who run the system. The handymen and the housekeeping staff call the shots. After all, the president is only a titular head who needs to be humoured for one year.

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