India is a land of nosy neighbours, but alas, they can seldom be manipulated like this:
This is a story which my father loves to tell about his grandfather, Ted, a man who “didn’t suffer fools gladly”. This took place some time around the 1960s.
Ted had an absolutely insufferable neighbour, Maureen, a woman who liked to peer out of her window, over the garden fence and into his kitchen. She did not do this secretly; she would often address Ted if they met in the street and make comments about what she had seen.
“Oh, Ted, you really should mend those pyjamas you were wearing yesterday evening. There’s a rip in the shirt and I saw right down it.”
“Oh, Ted, you weren’t depodding those beans correctly yesterday. I can teach you a much better method if you like.”
Tired of Maureen’s meddling and the lack of privacy he was suffering, Ted formed a plan. A few weeks later, he went hunting with his friend and came back with a brace of pheasants. Leaving his curtains wide open he began to pluck one, very tediously, very slowly, making a complete hash of it. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Maureen watching him. He could also see her frustration building.
The worse he plucked, the more frustrated she became, until she could take it no more. She stormed from her house and knocked on his kitchen door. When he let her in, she grabbed the pheasant and declared “THIS is how you do it properly!”. She plucked all of his pheasants for him and left with her nose in the air. He did this a few times over the coming weeks with different kitchen chores until she realised what he was doing and stopped altogether, never to meddle again.
“And that is how your Great Grandad turned obnoxiousness into free labour.”
If only, eh?