Shefali Tripathi Mehta, Sep 22, 2013, DHNS:
Not too long ago, neighbours were extended family; people we could count on, at any time of the day or night. Sadly, it’s a changed scenario now when we do not even know who our next door neighbours are, rues Shefali Tripathi Mehta
There are no proverbial heppige mosaru or sugar-asking, bowl-in-hand neighbours anymore. And no one’s ruing the absence, yet. The word ‘neighbour’ has a typical connotation. A neighbour is neither a friend nor a relative. A fuzzy relation. When you introduce someone as your neighbour, people smile understandingly.
A neighbour is supposed to know you not from what you tell them about yourself, but from what they observe and overhear — how you conduct yourself in your daily dealings with people — house-help, courier guys, postman, presswala, driver; how you treat the space just outside your home — if you think of it as an extension of your house and encroach upon common space with shoe racks, children’s bicycles, discarded items or beautify it with rangolis, urns and urlis; how much you respect others’ privacy — not lurking at the windows to catch raised voices, not peeping in when their doors are left ajar; how much consideration you show by keeping noise low, inquiring when unwell; how you celebrate and how you fight. As G K Chesterton puts it, “Your next-door neighbour is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.”
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