How Good Neighbours Become Good Friends

Neighbours over a Fence

What have you done for your neighbours lately?  Perhaps you’ve collected a parcel on their behalf while they’ve been out, or helped them fit a lightbulb that they can’t reach.  Perhaps you’ve asked them what they need from the shops as you’re going to the supermarket anyway.

While I was living at my parents’ house before I got married, there were plenty of opportunities to help the neighbours, say hi, or have banter out in the middle of the street, at any time of the day.

Since moving into a flat with my wife, we haven’t really been engaging with the neighbours as much.  However, by working from home and spending so much time at the flat, I have been picking up on my neighbours’ patterns.

Take for example the professional couple who head out at 7am toward the station to make their daily commute to the office.  Then there’s the lively and loving Nigerian mother with four young children, who leave home at 7.30am to walk to school.  How about the gentle old Indian lady who lives in the opposite block on the second floor, hanging her clothes and sheets out to dry on the balcony at 8am.  

There’s also Tony, the chap in his 60’s, with one of the warmest smiles I’ve seen and walking with his head slightly drooped, with a thoughtful look on his face.  As I write this, I see the retired park cleaner, walking around inspecting the estate, dressed with his hat and jacket, the same hat and jacket every day.

So I see these people, day in day out, carrying out their duties and their daily patterns.  The question is, how much time have I made to get to know my neighbours?  To find out what their needs are and whether I can support in some way?  Almost none.

How Good Neighbours Become Good Friends

Do an exercise with me:

  1. Take a pen and paper
  2. List out the 10-15 house numbers or flat numbers closest to your home.
  3. For each home, write the names of the people who live there, their ages, their birthdays & anniversaries.
  4. Write their contact details – telephone, mobile, email, etc.
  5. Write contact details of their closest family or friends in case they need to be reached in an emergency.
  6. Write about their religious & cultural background, and the festivals they celebrate each year.
  7. Write about anything else you have learnt about them.
  8. Write about their most important needs and how you could lend a hand.

Have you learnt something by doing this exercise?  What one thing could you schedule in to do for or with your nearest neighbours in the coming month to improve your relationship with them and serve them better?

 

Photo credit, cowbark

Let Simple Be The Mantra

In a recent blog post by Chris Brogan, titled Simplify and Package the Sale, he stated “Let simple be the mantra. Make your contracts brief, small, simple. Make your projects short, finite, and clear. Make your deliverables obvious, simple, and measurable.”

Simplicity in thought, speech and action with everything we do is becoming incredibly important in a world where our diaries are blocked out to the max doing things that we think would make us happy, but where we are in fact squeezing away time to do the very things that will serve us long-term.

Simplicity in thought comes about through reflecting on the nature of the world around us, just how impermanent it all is, and seeking out the source of abundant bliss within.

Simplicity in speech shines through when we hear of wise people who neither speak without being asked nor interrupt when another person is speaking.

Simplicity in action is the ability to perform our everyday duties and rising above all the elements that are pleasing or displeasing to our senses. Having taken care of these simple everyday duties, our time and focus can be put towards seeking fulfilment from the treasury within.

Through simplicity, in all it’s forms, we make life a process of purification. How does simplicity apply in your life right now? What can you simplify to support your quest for permanent happiness?

Remembering Nanima One Year On

Sunday 9th May 2010 marks one year since my grandmother (mum’s mum) passed away.

She was a woman of strength and substance, someone who would fight on to do the right thing, and someone who consistently encouraged kindness, mindfulness and care.

I had the fortune of capturing a recording of her singing a hymn from the timeless Jain tradition called “Janaru Jaay Chhe Jivan”, which I’d like to share with you today:

[mp3player config=fmp_jw_widget_config.xml height=”80″ file=http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6530076/Nanima-Stavan-Janaru2.mp3]

Lyrics: Janaru Jaay Chhe Jivan

Janaru jaay chhe jivan, jara jinavar ne jap to ja
Ridai ma raakhi jinavarne, purana paap dhoto ja………Janaru

Banelo paap thi bhaare, vadi paapo kare shid ne
Sadagati holi hayyani, aare jalim! Bhujato ja……… Janaru

Daya saagar Prabhu Paaras, Uchaade gyanani chodo
Utaari Vaasna vastro, aare paamar tu naato ja………Janaru

Jigarma dankhta dukho thaya paape pichanine
Jinandarvara dhyanani masti vade ene udato ja………Janaru

Aare, aatambani shaano bataavi shaanpan taru
Hataavi juthi jagmaaya chetan jyoti jagaato ja………Janaru

Khilya je fulada aaje, jarur te kaal karmaase
Akhand aatam kamal labdhi tani laye dil lagaato ja………Janaru

(source of lyrics: http://67.252.77.106/~webadmin/lyrics.html#Janaru Jaay Chhe)

If you know the meaning of these lyrics, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

If there are thoughts you’d like to share about your grandma, I’d love to read them in the comments too.

5 Articles That Illustrate Heena’s Character

As it’s my lady’s birthday today, I want to point your attention towards the issues that matter most to her.

Heena writes passionately on her blog at www.HeenaModi.com, and actively communicates these issues on Twitter and Facebook.  Her blog posts are also regularly featured on YouReportTV.

Today I share with you 5 articles from Heena’s blog that illustrates her character.

Heena Cares About Education

As a primary school teacher, Heena cares deeply about children’s education.  She is also the National Union of Teachers (NUT) representative for her school in South Harrow, to ensure that teachers are supported well in their careers.

In The best thing you can do for a child is encourage them to be independent, Heena outlines areas of focus to set the foundations for your children to gradually grow into responsible young adults.

Read the article at: http://www.heenamodi.com/2009/02/26/the-best-thing-you-can-do-for-a-child-is-encourage-them-to-be-independent/

Heena Cares About The Environment

Forever running around after me turning off light switches, Heena pushes hard to share ways in which to raise more awareness about the impact we are having on the environment, and what we can do to lighten our footprint.

In Everything is Disposable, Heena give practical suggestions on shifting from the ‘dispose everything’ mentality, into thinking how we can encourage more ways to ‘reduce, reuse or recycle’.

Read the article at: http://www.heenamodi.com/2010/02/05/everything-is-disposable/

Heena Cares About Animal Welfare

For a number of years, Heena has rescued abandoned cats by adopting them from animal shelters. A couple of years ago, she recognised the amount of violence that is involved in the dairy industry. As a result, she became vegan. To support other vegans, Heena regularly contacts food manufacturers to check whether everyday products are vegan-friendly, and then publishes the response on her blog.

In When your diet affects others. What do you do?, Heena explores some of the social considerations of following a vegan diet and how to overcome some of the challenges when dining with family and friends.

Read the article at: http://www.heenamodi.com/2008/10/09/when-your-diet-affects-others-what-do-you-do/

Heena Cares About The Local Community

Over the years, Heena has regularly participated in support groups that look out for the local community. She has served on the committee of a residents association and worked closely with local police on the Safer Neighbourhoods Team.

In Do you know your neighbours? What are the benefits of saying hello?, Heena opens our eyes to some of the shocking situations that are experienced by those living next door to us, and reminds us of our duty to ‘Love Thy Neighbour’.

Read the article at: http://www.heenamodi.com/2008/10/21/do-you-know-your-neighbours-what-are-the-benefits-of-saying-hello/

Heena Cares About Spiritual Growth

Having been brought up in a Jain family, Heena has taken a deep interest in her spiritual growth and progress for those around her.

In Jain Bhavnas / Reflections, Heena introduces twelve incredibly powerful contemplations from the timeless Jain tradition that cultivate equanimity through detachment.

Read the article at: http://www.heenamodi.com/2009/08/07/up-and-coming-posts-about-the-jain-bhavnasreflections/

Wish Heena a Happy Birthday!

To wish Heena a very happy birthday, tweet her @HeenaModi, message her on Facebook or drop her a note via the contact form at http://www.heenamodi.com/contact/.

Better still, read one of the recommended blog posts and leave a thoughtful comment on her site.

Introducing Raj Kotecha – Creative Content Consultant

Inspiring entrepreneur, talented DJ and friend, Raj Kotecha, is a creative content consultant. Raj is the man responsible for Heena and I meeting for the first time at that party in June 2007. Story for another day.

In this video @RajLoveSoul presents a guest lecture to media students at the University of East London. In it, he shares his own career history as well as some superb tips for thriving in the media business. Worth watching.