By : Priya Shandhini
07 February 2013
We’ve heard of people talking about how life was like ‘back in those days’. They say that back in those kampong days, neighbours were more than just neighbours – everyone was a friend. And the same ones lament that this spirit is not quite there anymore today.
Hmmm…But is that really the case?
Maybe, these days we don’t see much of our neighbours because we’re so busy. But it’s not that difficult to show some neighbourliness. Hint: Special occasions work wonders. Otherwise, you’ve got to create the opportunities for interaction. And of course, you can’t go wrong with surprises and goodies!
Here’s a story of one of my neighbours who brings joy to those around her.
Aunty Lim is over 70 years old. I’m not quite sure what’s her actual age, but she definitely brings a smile to neighbours who have known her over the years – myself included. Even new acquaintances are easily won over by her caring nature! Here are some of the little things she has done for my family.
With her permed hair, and slow, measured steps, she can always be spotted in my neighbourhood pushing her favourite red trolley. On one of those days, my mum saw her from a distance and went up for a chat. On the sidelines, I was secretly charmed by Aunty Lim’s usual big smile. As we made our way home, she suddenly asked my mum to stopover at her place. Curious, we obliged.
She emerged from her kitchen grinning and holding a bag of home-grown tomatoes! Somehow she knew that we were planning a western meal that evening just by looking at our grocery items! Knowing that, she decided to offer us her gift, suggesting that we could top off the dish with a hearty grilled tomato.
Language Is No Barrier
On many occasions, I’ve met Aunty Lim in the lift and would greet her with a ‘hello!’ After all, it’s in these common areas within HDB flats that neighbours see each other! Despite not being able to speak in English, she tries her best to talk to me in a smattering of Malay and Singlish. And undeterred that I do not understand Malay, she then goes on each time to use the commonest human language – hand gestures. Though we probably haven’t spoken in full sentences, her genuine care and concern was fully apparent through her body language. And you can bet that seeing her always makes my day : )
Festive Occasions Give You Another Reason
Just last week my family bumped into her at the lift lobby again. This time round, after we said our ‘byes’, she suddenly called out to us to come back. Imagine what surprise she had for us this time? Reaching into her red trolley and fishing out a plastic bag, she presented us with homemade pineapple tarts! Even though we don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, there she was, extending her generosity to us yet again! On festive occasions and the occasional surprises, it’s quite amazing how she often carries goodies to pass on to neighbours. If you’re wondering, yes, the tarts were delicious and had that one-of-a-kind, buttery taste : )
Needless to say, these little acts make us really grateful to have a neighbour like Aunty Lim. One thing I’ve learnt is that simple gestures go a long way in building up neighbourliness within our HDB flats. And they need not be difficult. While it might be a while before many of us can emulate Aunty Lim, we could always start small. For example, letting your neighbour know that it’s raining so that they can retrieve the laundry; or just keeping the volume down when you host gatherings in your own home.
And such small gestures can mean a lot more than words sometimes : )
If you already know a good neighbour whom you treasure, why not nominate him or her for the Good Neighbour Award 2013?