At a building near where I live, two brothers share guard duty. The older brother's wife, a total of four kids (each man has two sons) and the pair live in a small room at the back of the property. The brothers are very anxious to see their sons do well in life, so they work hard so the boys can attend a good nearby school. English medium.
For some years now, the boys have used an empty garage to study in every night. One of the residents of the building installed a bright fluorescent lamp there so they'd have enough light to read by. So every time I've visited, I've seen all four poring intently over their books, at least looking far more industrious about their schoolwork than I ever was about mine. One of the fathers also usually sits there, and in fact spends the nights there after the boys fall asleep.
But suddenly, all that's changed.
The empty garage belongs to one of the absentee owners in the building, I'll call him U, a doctor who has lived in the Middle East for some years. On one of his visits to Bombay, he explicitly allowed the guards to use the garage like this.
Another of the residents, let's call him V, bought a flat in the building only a few years ago, and made some alterations to it as soon as he moved in: illegal alterations. But he made them quietly, so that when the other residents noticed and brought up the issue, he replied: "Well, now they're done and nothing can be done about it." V has also had some trouble with tax authorities. Because not long after he moved in, notices suddenly appeared all over his front door and the entrance to the building, saying the Income Tax department was "attaching" his flat because he had not paid taxes amounting to some ten million rupees. V must have found his way out of that predicament, because he and his family are still in the flat.
In any case, V is now the Chairman of the "cooperative society" formed by the residents. V owns a car whose butt sticks out of his garage, it's that enormous. He has now bought another one, not quite as big, but he wants a garage for it as well. Can't have it sitting outside, of course not.
And all these strands -- the garage, the cars, the boys studying, the absentee owner and the slightly dubious Chairman -- now begin to come together.
V has his eye on U's garage for his second car. Only, there are these boys studying in there, this watchman spending the night in there. But V is nothing if not resourceful. He calls a meeting of the Managing Committee of the society. As Chairman, he presides over it. The Managing Committee passes a resolution saying they do not approve of the guard "sleeping" in the garage at night. To stop this, they resolve, they will "allow" the Chairman to park his car there.
Being abroad, U -- whose garage this is, remember? -- doesn't even know that the garage has been smoothly taken over. Nobody has asked him his permission. On a recent quick trip here, he doesn't even notice. Because while he is here, V doesn't use the garage.
But now that U is gone, V parks his car there every night. No place there for the guard to sit. No place for the four boys to study. But place for the car. Only part of its butt sticks out.
Naturally, V only did all this to stop the guard from "sleeping." He was worried for the security of the building. Sure.
The good thing is, he's not alone in monitoring the guards' activities. His second-floor neighbour once complained in writing to the Managing Committee that the guard was "taking a bath every day."