‘Please close the door’

The lift in our apartment building was recently replaced. It’s an old building, a relict of the Alacrity Era of flat-building in the city, and the lift was accordingly fairly ancient. It was one of those double-gated affairs that got water-logged when it rained too much, got stuck between floors when the current got cut, and was a perennial hazard to little kids who wanted to stick their hands into the gate. It also let out a high-pitched ‘squeeeeeeeeee’ sound every time it was opened, and continued squealing until both doors were fully shut. That amounted to, as you can imagine, quite a lot of squealing in one day. That’s not even counting all the squealing that happened when the voltage was low or one phase of current randomly disappeared (which happened often).

I think I’m going to miss that old lift. And I’ll tell you why.

The new one they’ve put in has The Voice. You know the one I’m talking about. That strident, school-marm-ish voice that admonishes you, ‘Please close the door. Dayavu saithu kadavai moodavum.’ over and over and over again from the moment the doors open until they’re finally shut. It’s like having a bossy lady materialise at your elbow, nagging you non-stop to shut the damn door in two languages every time you step into the lift and every time you step out. And in a small block of flats like ours, the nagging isn’t just restricted to when you personally use the lift. That disembodied voice floats into the living room at all times night and day, preceded by those ominous chimes: ding ding DING! Please close the door. Dayavu saithu kadavai moodavum. Please close the door. Dayavu…” It’s like being haunted by an anal, repetitive, bilingual ghost. An electronic ghost that’ll nag you to death.

There was a time when I was younger, when I was first introduced to The Voice, that I actually found it quite funny. My brother and I would joke that there was a lady called Nandini madam, in a starchy cotton sari, sitting above the air duct in the lift, waiting to speak to us. That was before I was bombarded by her voice over and over to the point of absolute saturation.

Of course, it might just be that I’ve developed a wee bit of an intolerance for these recorded voices. My other big electronic-voice  bugbear is that lady who, for one of the mobile providers (I don’t recall which one), waits until you’ve placed a call and heard it ring at the other end some 20 times, and then informs you in the most patronising tone ever that “The number you are calling is not picking up.” First of all, the number I’m calling can’t pick up, being that it’s, well, a number. And secondly, really? I hadn’t figured it out at all. I mean, the fact that their phone rang and rang and rang, and that I’m listening to you instead of them really didn’t clue me in. Thanks for letting me know that they’re not picking up. Really.

Anyway, when I moved into this apartment building after marriage, I was very relieved to find that Nandini madam didn’t live here. But now that she’s moved in, I have to take a call. Is this building big enough for the both of us?

Give me that squealy ol’ lift any day.

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7 Comments

Filed under Humour, Madras

7 responses to “‘Please close the door’

  1. Nandini madam has infiltrated households all over the country. She’s unstoppable. The worst part is having the room next to the living room; your sleep on Fri / Sat nights will be haunted by her requests to close the lift.

  2. sop

    The strangest thing of all is that people actually believe that the voice works. If you are patient and take time to observe you will find that the sound system actually has no or only very minimal impact on users. People who are generally careless will continue to leave the door open in spite of the reminders; people who have civic sense will normally close the door and need no electronic prompting. The Voice is a gimmick that unfortunately does very well commercially and therefore destined to continue to annoy us. If only people used their eyes a bit and applied a bit of common sense we could have this bizzare ‘invention’ ripped out and thrown away!

    • You know, I’ve never even thought about whether ‘The voice’ works! That’s a very good point. In fact, after Nandini madam came to our building, there’s a higher incidence of the stupid door not being shut properly and being stuck on one floor. Is this a uniquely Indian thing? One of those ways we create additional noise and annoyances in our lives? lol Because I’ve actually never seen it anywhere else in the world as far as I can recall…

    • If we can organize a nationwide campaign to all associations to ban the voice… I think that’s a good use of time. Davavu saithu campaign panalam… Dayavu saithu…

      • Hahahaha I think that’s brilliant. Brilliant, I say. Daivu saithu start the campaign. You have two people ready to pledge support already!

  3. Pingback: Make some noise | Divya Kumar's Blog

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