Maybe Karan Johar should make a sequel to K3G which is about neighbours, the new family. There is a saying that a nearby enemy is far better than a far-off friend. It is true. When there is an emergency, isn’t the neighbour the nearest person who can come to our rescue? Of course they come in different flavours, shapes and sizes — some go out of their way to help, but are non-interfering, others are helpful, but nosey, few feel left out if not updated on family matters, and so on. But maintaining a good rapport with your neighbours always comes in handy.
When we used to live in Kalyan, and the kids were growing up, our immediate neighbours, the Firkes and the Choksis were helpful whenever required. The only problem was, they would swarm into the flat whenever the door was ajar.
All that whining
This really bugged my children, and they nicknamed them ‘mosquitoes’ and ‘houseflies’. But they never bothered me, because they were simple at heart and always cheerful.
In contrast, we had an old couple, Mr and Mrs Pedro staying on the ground floor flat beneath us. They were perennially complaining about the sounds they heard because my son played marbles in the balcony. Soon, so as to not annoy them, my seven-year-old used to spread a blanket, and then play his marble game, but the complaints never stopped.
We had another wonderful neighbour, Ms. Mahajan, a college professor who was single but used to always advise mothers to get their girls married off at the right age. She was a friendly woman, a great cook and made intelligent conversation. She got along fine with everyone; young or old.
During the Ganesh festival days, she would take the initiative of organising a Ganpati walkabout for at least three to four families. We used to start late in the evening, visiting each and every mandal that was on her list, eating goodies along the way and returning in the wee hours of the morning.
As she was born and brought up in old Kalyan, she knew every nook and corner of the town and its history, and made for a fabulous guide. We used to follow her like mice behind Pied Piper.
Mostly we used to go on Saturday, late in the evening around 8.30 pm after having dinner and return by 2 a m
We had another wonderful neighbour, Mrs Srinivasan, who lived in the next building. She would take care of my twins, dress them up, send them to school, and feed them after they returned from school, in my absence. I had to leave home for work at 6 a m and would return only after 1 p m. So she was a big help and she used to do it willingly without expecting anything in return.
Another neighbour, Mrs Malviya who was also our landlady, was extremely talented, though reticent. She loved sewing. Every other week, she would borrow my daughters’ dresses and copy the designs, recreating the exact pattern for her daughters.
Such a copycat!
After a point, it used to bug my daughters that they were such ‘copycats’ and they would beg me not to lend her their clothes. But I just admired her enterprise and gave it.
One more interesting young couple, whose last name I can’t recall, were Chanda and Chandu. Theirs was an unusual pairing. The wife was much taller than the husband. They would bring over yummy Gujarati and Punjabi delicacies, and I would offer them our South Indian fare, which they relished.
Things are different now, and the neighbourly bond is not the same any more. However, I still have fond memories of the past and the good times we shared with our neighbours.