This story is not about Imarat El Hadj Lakhdhar; it is the actual story of a newly built residence which was, and still is, among the best to live in in my town. The inhabitants are among the upper mid class if such things exist. Most are doctors, university teachers or engineers, have two (high) incomes per household and could be considered as members of an élite, in a way or another. The more I look at it and the more it reminds me of the way Algeria “functions”, making me wonder on who influenced the other.
Anyway, let’s start with categorising the inhabitants.
Group A: People from this group do not care at all about the residence. They live isolated and consider their responsibilities reside only inside their flats. They don’t pay the residence fees, never join in the residence meetings and seem happy with the global situation (and its constant degradation).
Group B: People from this group do pay the subscription fees which is their only active/positive behaviour in the residence. The group is divided into:
B1: These people live in France and used the high euro/dinar exchange rate to buy flats in the residence. They pay the fees because they are used to the practice in France and because they simply can. They visit every summer and stay around one month. They complain about everything and tell the others about how things work in France, i.e. how they should work in the residence. But they spend their month having fun as tourists, making a lot of noise and then leave without showing those great ideas they saw in France or trying to implement them in the residence.
B2: These people do live in the residence. They pay the fees because they believe everyone must pay them. They think the fees are too high and that they are not used wisely but they don’t want to take an active role in managing the residence and spending the money. They seldom join during the residence meetings.
Group C: This group has two leaders who were among the first to live in the residence and were its previous trustees. All of them come from the same region and they even hired a concierge from their region. When they were the trustees, everyone but Group A paid the fees and the residence was managed relatively well. It was kept clean, the concierge did his duties, etc. The only problem is these two trustees wanted to be trusted blindly and refused to show how, where and when the money was spent. So as soon as Group B2 complained and wanted to see some receipts the leaders didn’t like it and resigned from their role. Not only this, Group C stopped paying the fees.
Group D: The members of this group stopped paying the fees after Group B2 complained about Group C‘s lack of transparency. They kind of organised the coup. The result was that Group D leaders took over the trustee position and reduced the fee amounts to satisfy Group B2. All good you would say, but the problem is the concierge is close to Group C and he thought it made sense for him to live there and simply stop working. Group D leaders being weaker and less persuasive than Group C‘s, they couldn’t get him back to work or just fire him. The residence decadence started with them. Transparency is present but results are not.
As a result, only groups B and D are paying the fees, and Group C is not talking to Group D and some of Group B2 any more. And while I am at talking, those groups members who talk to each other actually just mumble a “morning” or ” salam 3likoum” when they meet each other inside the residence but ignore each other in the outside, so not talking is not a big loss after all.
The concierge on his side is not satisfied with his salary, which he doesn’t deserve anyway, so he looked for another job. He found a job outside the residence during his duty hours! And some of the residence inhabitants from all groups pay him to perform some personal tasks such as buying bread or whatever. These put together left no time for the job he was hired for.
As I said above, this residence remains among the best despite the above, mainly because the inhabitants’ children are relatively well educated and make little drawings on the walls, and there is no special intention from the inhabitants to actively destroy their residence as one seems to think from what happens elsewhere. But this clanism, laziness, carelessness added to time will definitely bring the residence down. The consequence might then be that the current inhabitants would emigrate to a newer and cleaner residence and leave this one to the masses.
Unless they hire a Chinese concierge and outsource the trustee job to some Scandinavian country of course.