The Pursuit of PerfectionPosted: Sunday, 6 February 2011
Perfection is an elusive goal. In some cases, it is practically impossible to achieve perfection. Take a simple example: finding a perfect boarding house. Now, this is a true story, my story.
When I first came to Bali, a new friend of mine took me to see a potential boarding house. I immediately took it, not because it’s perfect, but because it’s logical. I’m a new guy, I have to find a place to live, pronto. As it turns out, it was a great boarding house. The owners (and their kids) were all smiles and happy to welcome me, neighbors minded their own business and for the most part didn’t cause any trouble, the cost is affordable, and the room’s got quite some space. I got used to the dogs barking their heads off in the middle of the night. But later on, after the owner’s mom got sick — mind you, she’s a 98-year-old grandma with a case of a never-healing-broken-arm — things got a bit complicated.
How would you like to wake up hearing a very old lady moaning and calling out someone’s name, while trying to scrape pieces of plastic off of her broken arm, plus the family’s helper dragging an empty bucket just outside your front door? Add to that the setting: 2 a.m., in the middle of a thunderstorm and a soundtrack of dogs whimpering, while the smell of burnt incense from the day’s evening prayers hasn’t gone away.
I do not want to be there when she passes away. (not that I want her to, but you know… it’s frickin’ eerie!)
I was lucky enough that a friend offered me a vacant room at her boarding house, one that I’ve had my eyes on since a few months back. So I immediately took the opportunity. I was delighted. The room was bigger and had better flooring and walls, air circulation was much better, and best of all I had no worries about midnight wake-up calls from any dogs. Oh, and of course I was excited to finally have neighbors that I actually know. Little did I know…
I got me lots of new neighbors. But this one right next door… oh man… I still wake up at 2 a.m. sometimes, not because of dogs barking or old ladies moaning, but because of the fights they have. She’d yell and scream and cry at the same time and he’d just rub it in her face. And then she’d hurl a cellphone to my wall and it breaks to pieces. And the words… oh, the words just couldn’t get any harsher.
I could handle the noises just fine, I just thought of them as wild dogs barking their heads off and biting each other. But the harsh words, they get me tense every time. There were times when I really wanted to come out with my broom and just knock her out (and then deal with her boyfriend).
But she’s the owner’s niece. I strike her and I’m out.
So there you have it. The pursuit of a perfect place to live. I’m not talking about a huge palace with a swimming pool and jacuzzi (although it wouldn’t hurt if I could afford such a place), but a place where I can just live peacefully in a community where everybody has good manners and are thoughtful enough to minimize disturbance to everybody else.
Quite impossible, it seems.
UPDATE: It turns out that as I was writing this post, the now 99-year-old lady really passed away. My sincere condolences for the kind family that looked after me for that wonderful year.