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

One response to “How Good Neighbours Become Good Friends”

  1. Heena avatar

    Suraj this is a nice article. 🙂
    I've been touched and feel blessed with the neighbours we had at the flat.
    I remember accepting the delivery of a parcel for 'the new couple' upstairs. They were so happy to receive it from us.
    I also recall the many times that the mother who dotes on her four children has helped us. She's accepted parcels for us, listened out for us and then knocked to give it to us almost as soon as we got in. She's also kept an eye out when we had a lot of comings and goings re viewings on the flat.
    Carly who lives upstairs is sensitive and considerate about how some people are scared of dogs so she always keeps her dog close to her when entering or leaving the flat.
    Do you remember the lady who lives on the top floor? Her son came to see us when we were moving. Bless him. He was gutted that we didn't tell him we were going. I explained that it'd been going on for over a year so we stopped 'sharing updated' about it because things kept changing! After that, it got decided last minute and we didn't think anyone would be in during the day to go and share the news with. He was on study leave so he popped in. I was so glad he did. I could see how mature, caring and confident he's become.
    Now Tony…he doesn't live in our block. I mean where we used to live BUT we often saw him and I loved talking to him even though it was brief. Maybe we can catch up with him again and have a hot drink with him. Me present this time! 🙂

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