Love your neighbour as you love yourself goes the saying. But while we all may have mastered the art of loving ourselves, good neighbourly relationships are few and far between. This although the physical space between two houses may be just a dividing wall. Specially in big towns.
According to a recent survey, 70 per cent of the people living in apartments do not know their neighbours. Not long ago, it was the other way around: 30 per cent of people living in colonies did not know their neighbours. Coffee and tea with the neighbour meant more than sipping beverages. These sessions often led to meaningful relationships. Which, in turn, led to evenings out, get-togethers, meals at each others’ places, children playing together, baby-sitting if required. All done with a smile on each other’s faces.
I recently met a lady who has been staying in the same building as me for three years. This adds up to more than a thousand days and yet, had we met in the mall close by or even at the local grocery store, we would not have recognised each other.
We may find these incidents amazing, but for our children this is perhaps a way of life. This is the norm they believe. Therefore, it is not surprising that the younger generation is not even on a nodding acquaintance with the people who live in the same apartment complex. For most of them, their ‘gang’ is what matters. Their circle begins and ends with their friends. They would walk past a neighbour without a glance.
In the lift lobby one evening, I met a lady coming back from work. We exchanged greetings and then we got talking. We discussed the weather, work and the children. We finally said adieu and walked on. My eleven-year-old had been an avid listener. After the conversation ended, he asked who I had been talking to. Our neighbour, I replied. Where does she stay, he questioned. In the apartment across the corridor, I answered. His tone openly expressed his astonishment. You mean we actually know our neighbour?