I’ve been keeping myself from complaining about the stench of our neighbor’s superb cookery. I live with a friend (my lover, actually) in a unit on the 10th floor of a condominium in Makati. This kind of set-up, living in a high rise, poses unique set of concerns — acrophobia; the different scary people one meets in the elevator, probably xenophobia; and because of the big city’s inhospitable atmosphere, most windows are perpetually closed for the rest of the year resulting in virtual lack of ventilation.
I’ll also mention, cases of brownouts, and they’ve hit fairly frequently this last week, meant walking up and down the building from the 10th floor. Imagine if one stays on the 33rd floor and the ordeal one has to go through just to buy soda from a convenience store downstairs: 660 steps, multiply that by two, and take into consideration the force of gravity so you’ll understand what I am trying to say.
Going back to the problem with ventilation, this family of seven living four doors away from us has this penchant for showcasing the daily culinary experiment of the mother of the house. I have nothing against them taking pride in their daily bread, a sign of their being thankful to whomever they consider their Almighty, but what irks me is the odor that gets stuck on my clothing and oily hair every time I wait for the elevator. And I always notice they do not close their door. Although I think open doors mean ‘welcome’, theirs is nothing close. I never felt I am welcome because the odor of fried anchovies shoos me away.
I normally love dried anchovies and the smell is not at all that bad. Fried anchovies remind me of my province, lunchtime in my lola‘s farm after a day’s work, or my mother’s vegetable stew called laswa cooked with dilis bought from the village market. They’re good in certain context but not in an aseptic, poorly ventilated condominiums with air quality just some notches below that of a hospital’s.
I feel like going ballistic sometimes like mounting an ‘accidentally’ strewn museum exhibit of a week’s worth of garbage right in front of their unit. Mean, I am not, however. So I’ve completely shelved this evil plot. For now.
But the urge of going to the nearest talipapa this weekend, buying a quarter of a kilo of the smelliest dried anchovies I can find, and using my friend’s (my lover, actually) rice cooker, frying the small fish until their stench overpower that of my neighbor’s is just too much to contain. If they cannot anymore take it, based on my plan, they’ll close their door. Voila! problem solved. If this flimsy plan works, that is. If not, my mini garbage exhibit can always be recovered from the shelf.