Living in apartment buildings has nowadays become the choice of almostall strata of the middle class. In the earlier times, life in the multistorey condominiums was exclusive to the higher middle class. With their prices falling, these community-centred residential buildings are becoming accessible to even lower middle classes with savings. Spending their money saved for years, a number of them buy flats in relatively remote areas. The richer segments of the middle class normally avoid theselowly apartments. Thanks to their many facilities, the city people prefer flats situated in clusters to the conventional 4 and 5-storey buildings. In spite of differences in status, the apartment life in general has a number of features in common.
With the outbreak of the novel corona pandemic, the apartment life has undergone a few transformations. Many would like to call these changes jolts. The first casualty was the inter-flat bonhomie. Unlike in even the immediate past, the flat residents these days no longer sincerely welcome people from other flats in the same apartment. They resort to a nakedly formal smile and jargons of greetings at the main entrance. In fact, few want the neighbours to step into their flats. And if some want to visit a flat citing urgent business, many cautious neighbours want to ensure that they have worn their masks properly. Some keep bottles of hand sanitisers at an easily noticeable place. The inhabitants of these flats are fully aware of the raging pandemic.
There are also other apartments with a different character. Many of their occupants belong to the moneyed classgaudily exuding affluence. This section comprises people who are different in their overall living style and manners. They are found engaged in a silent clash with the other flat occupants in the apartment. An appalling aspect that distinguishes these apartment residences is they seem to be least bothered about the happenings around the city. Presently, one of those realities is the Covid-19 pandemic. They seem to be least concerned that there is a social distance directive in place in the capital. And that it has been enforced by the government to rein in the scourge, a highly contagious disease. They are incredulous when some of their neighbours define the novel corona virus as airborne; and that it can attack a person through the passages of nose, mouth, eyes and ears.
Normally, it's difficult to enter the boundary of the classical Dhaka apartment complexes. Security guards remain on 24-hour duty at the gate. Anyone willing to visit any flat at the apartment is required to register his or her name, address, phone number etc with the security persons. It is followed by the formality of contacting the flat owner or residents over intercom to confirm the guest's identity. Normally, these formalities are strictly followed in the average apartment buildings. Having CCTV cameras installed on all sides within the boundary has long become a major prerequisite. Stunningly, there are many apartment buildings in the capital where one can go through the main entrance without being asked by anyone about their identity, or the building they intend to visit. Contacting the flat's owner over phone to confirm the version the persons gave about their identity remains an absurdproposition. The apartment-owners never felt the need for the installation of CCTV cameras.
The most awkward situation crops up when vendors of all types, in sandals or barefoot, enter the apartments carrying the products purchased by one or another flat owner. Few could be a more revolting view in these days of the resurgent Covid-19. Not all flat owners are reckless in their behaviour. There are sensible residents, too. They can realise the disasters the unscrupulous flat owners invite for others. Tension, a fraught situation, and, later, ugly squabbles follow. Meanwhile, mutant virus variants continue to mutate further.