The neighbour who sees all

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 02, 2014 12:05 IST

One of my neighbours is a funny guy given many interesting names such as “BBC”, “Reporter”, and “Watchman”, for which the credit goes to his eccentric habit of being either at his gate or snooping around the colony, observing who comes and goes, and how children play and the street dogs fight.

If you bump into him, he will throw at you thousands of droning questions that make you feel stuck in an annoying interview. That is why neighbours step out only when he is in. After the interrogation, he’ll bore you with this stock story: “I have travelled across the world but whether in an aircraft or a train or a bus, I prefer taking a window seat. I love a good view and, even in my house, have windows in every room.” He’ll narrate it to whomever he is able to catch and hold for hours. Taking your leave of the character requires tact.

His preference story that even children have heard explains why is always outside or at the window, and why he keeps observing his environment. He’s the go-to guy for the latest information about anyone in the colony. He knows which house received guests, and at what time they came and left. Trust him to also know on which block the quarrel or the celebration happened; who is where; and by what time everyone will be back. He knows because he keeps asking.

His irritating attitude has many benefits for the postman, whom he helps find the right address. He even receives letters on behalf of the families who aren’t home, which saves the mail man, the special courier mostly, the trouble of making another round of the colony. Many times, he approaches the postman on his own to ask him if he requires assistance. This way, he also gets to know which house has received what letter or packet.

In case of theft, you approach him to ask if he spotted any suspect at the scene. Recently, he noticed a stranger trying to steal the bicycle of a child. From the grand observation window of his house, he raised the alarm: “Thief ! Thief !” The burglar fled, abandoning the stolen bicycle, but truly, nothing escapes the man who sees all. Even a bothersome habit can be useful at times.

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