My Neighbor And I

We don’t know our neighbors very well.  In fact, we hardly know them at all.  Most of the families living on our floor are locals, some of them are Lebanese, and I noticed a few Sudanese-looking kids.  Needless to say, we were surrounded by Arabic-speaking families.  That was until a year ago.

A few days before Eid last year, an Indian family moved into the apartment next door.  I don’t go out much, so I never knew when the Emirati family, who used to stay there, moved out.  One night, while I was home with my mother-in-law, the door bell rang.  It was an Indian woman, who greeted me by saying, “Hi, can I borrow your wiper?”

Apparently, when she and her husband came in a couple of days ago to clean the place up, they forgot to turn off the tap.  The water had flooded the entire apartment.  The building watchman phoned them, because they took all the keys with them too.

And so, I came to know that we were going to have desi neighbors.  Boy, was I thrilled!  Finally, there was someone who could speak our language.  And they have a little girl.  I began planning on how to meet them.

So on Eid last year, with a bowl of some homemade kheer in hand, my mother-in-law and I went over to meet our new neighbors, who didn’t visit us after borrowing our floor wiper.  She welcomed us in.  We sat there, among three other women and two children, who didn’t speak our language.  You see, we eventually learned that day that our new neighbors are from Kerala and didn’t speak Hindi.  They didn’t understand much English either.  Seeing my mother-in-law becoming rather uncomfortable, I decided to leave.

Few weeks later, my mother-in-law tells me, “She didn’t return our bowl yet.”  But I didn’t want to go, so I asked Masood instead, who of course, didn’t agree.  “Why should I go get that bowl?  You brought it there in the first place.”  Of course, he has a point.  Why should he go into someone’s apartment and ask the woman living there for our bowl?

Therefore, I went next door to get my bowl back.  Our neighbor opened the door, rather surprised to see me standing there.  “Salaam.  How are you doing?”  I didn’t know how else to start the conversation.  “Walaikum Assalam,” she replied, still looking surprised.  She was holding a broom.

“I came to get the bowl, the one which contained the kheer I brought on Eid,”  I told her.  “Ah yes,” she replied, as if she didn’t notice that one of the bowls in her kitchen didn’t belong to her.

While she disappeared into the kitchen, her four-year-old daughter came out from a room, dragging a bucket behind her.  She was in her undies, but wearing all these gold jewellery!  Her embarrased mother suddenly came out, with my bowl, telling the child to go inside.  “I was just about to give her a bath,” she tried to explain.

I took my bowl, thanked her, and returned home.

Since then, I have never heard from my neighbors again.





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27 Responses to My Neighbor And I

  1. masood says:

    They are actually “new bores” not neighbors 🙂

    ~ LOL. I’m still waiting (and hoping) for some friendly people to come around our floor.

  2. hfm says:

    You should try to pop down once again!
    We had neighbours similar to yours, but my elder sister is persistent in making them into friends. Sure enough, they’re lovely!

    ~ Hey, HFM! Welcome to my blog 🙂

    I think about visiting again, you know just ask how she’s doing and all that, but I still remember “the look” she gave me. Frankly speaking, she scares me!

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  4. Ab says:

    Hahaha. My cousin would enjoy this story; he intensely dislikes Malayalam-speaking people.

    ~ I personally don’t have anything against Keralites, but most (not all) of those I met are very discriminative. They, based on my own experience again, usually do not allow non-keralites to get close to them. They always seem to have this invisible wall around them.

    But then, maybe it’s just me 😀

  5. Sabiha says:

    We never really got to know any of our neighbors either, even in our new place neither us nor they really seem to be all that interested with each other LoL!

    ~ Hehe, so the lesson for the day would be: good and friendly neighbors are a blessing 🙂

  6. The Ruler says:

    You’re probably right when you said, “she scares me!” The woman even managed to freak me out. I don’t like your neighbors. Hmmm. Brrr.

    ~ Now I’m thinking: perhaps I scared her too 😀

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  8. The Ruler says:

    You couldn’t possibly have scared her. For one, you seem nice, even over the cyberspace; two, you took a bowl of sweets on eid! no one in their right minds would find that freaky. 😀

    ~ Aww, that’s absolutely sweet of you! Come here, lemme give you a big sisterly hug *hugs tight*

  9. ummtravis says:

    Ya I agree, give her another try. I find people from other cultures weird myself and have learned everyone has weirdness, sometimes it just takes a super nice person to melt the ice.

    ~ I will need to muster up enough courage to walk up her door, but I’ll do it in the near future, InshaAllah.

  10. Nisa AK says:

    I dun think it’s abt where they came from. I guess the lady is just shy or something. or maybe she just cant be bothered to socialise! Or maybe they are hiding a dead body under the tiles of their floor 😛
    Nadia u better stay away! LOL

    ~ I think she just finds me weird. I also think it’s mainly the language barrier that’s making her uncomfortable to mingle with talkative people like me.

    Dead body under the tiles?! Nisa, that’s one wild imagination! 😀

  11. frozeefa says:


    its very uncomfortable when we have to ask for our belongings back from the pple whom we lent it to right..

    Its like coughing out so much of courage to ask that ” can i have it back?”

    sighs..i am still figuring out how to deal with difficult ones…


    ~ My sweet sister, Frozeefa! I’m glad you stopped by, it’s been quite some time.

    Oh, yeah. It ain’t easy to ask someone to return your stuff, specially when you’re not so close with them. It’s even harder when there’s money involved. I never had the guts to ask someone to return my money 😦

  12. Niyaz says:

    hahaha wah u hve such a wonderful neighbors !! guess they cant speak English dats y they hesitate to hve a chat wid u !

    ~ Yes, maybe it’s the language that’s making her uncomfortable.

  13. Serene says:

    Im used with this kind of attitude, my neighbor tend to forget things that they borrowed from me. Sad to say this is really happening. My question is will I give them a second chance?!?Hmmmm… Well I don’t know, but I will never close my door if ever they will need my help. Like you said neighbors are blessing!

    ~ I agree, Serene. I can not imagine closing the door to my neighbors. I’d love to help them in any way I can. But still, I wish they cared enough to return stuff that they borrow 😉

  14. serendipitouslife says:

    Ahh, the all too familiar case of the unreturned bowls & plates… Its good to have the kid in the house do the difficult task of getting it back from the neighbors after it becomes their kitchen property for more than a year!

    I’ve always found Malayalis/Keralites to be very humble & friendly. Maybe its just the language barrier that is impeding relations.

    ~ Oh yes, back home in Karachi, the kids were asked forced to do that task. 🙂

    I have a few colleagues from Kerala, and since they speak English fluently, we do get along very well 🙂

  15. misspecs says:

    LOL, it seems a GOOD thing you never met them again.

    And its good for your kitchen and bathroom and all the household appliances that you don’t have a building full of Desi neighbors! 🙂 You’d be living out of an empty house!

    ~ Hahaha. Or perhaps, I would learn to finally borrow stuff from my neighbors too 😀

  16. Haleem says:

    She seems rather strange. Why was her kid wearing all this gold… at first I thought your post was something about child marriage (now I have an imagination!) but it ends like Twilight Zone lol

    ~ I’ve noticed desi parents having their young children (even boys) wear gold ornaments right after the nurse hands over the newborn to the mother. Poor babies.

    LOL @ Twilight Zone! Well, at least your imagination is put to work here 🙂

  17. Ordinary Girl says:

    Why don’t people return things…one of pet peeves! 😀

    Infact, in our house, borrowing things from neighbours is HIGHLY discouraged. If you don’t have Hara Dehnya, you can have a handi without it, but you don’t ask for some from the neighbours. If the iron isn’t working, wear some other suit, or wear a wrinkled one, but the iron is not coming from the neighbours.

    ~ Maybe they don’t return stuff they borrowed because they always assume the owner will come get it 😀

    Same with my mother, even during grade school, we were discouraged to borrow pen/pencil waghaira from our classmates.

  18. Extiinct says:

    Hi, I was blog hopping and came across yours. Very interesting!

    And I so know how you feel with having neighbours who are locals! Our floor is full of locals too and possibly a couple of foreigner. The apartment next to ours has an Indian muslim family living in it. That bhi we found out only when she came over to introduce herself.

    Btw, did the lady ever return the wiper?

  19. nadia says:

    Extiinct (is that really with a double “i”?), welcome to my blog! I see you’ve got the musical fountain of Al Qasba as your beautiful header 🙂

    As far as my neighbor is concerned, she had no choice but to return the wiper, because I had been standing there at my door, hehe. My door is just three footsteps away from hers. I was just curious about my (then) soon-to-be-neighbors 😀

  20. extiinct says:

    Hehehe, yeah it’s with a double ‘i’. Don’t ask how it came about. I was in my teens…that’s a very valid excuse =P

    Thanks for the welcome =) Yes, I took that photo when I went there for the first time. Came out surprisingly good! I also love Al Qasba! Pleasantly surprised that you recognized the place 🙂

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    Your site has won a Hosted Blogs Blog Award

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  23. beyond says:

    well i do know people from kerala and i think some of them are rather friendly.but i find people from madras are a bit cold.again i am just telling my experience.

  24. Sheela K says:

    This site is so good and I suppose it should not be wasted on clinging mud on the people from different region or religion. Every person has their own individual character and tradition. Please let them abide by it whilst, we try to appreciate and let them live their way. LIVE AND LET LIVE!

    The looks on the face of the lady maybe, because she was not an outgoing person or was not ready to greet a visitor.


  25. nadia says:

    Sheela, welcome to my blog and thanks for taking time out to comment. It’s truly appreciated 🙂

    I had started this blog primarily to put into words my experiences in life, whether it’s pleasant or otherwise. If I experience a certain situation with a particular person, I believe I have the right to talk about it in my own blog.

    You are absolutely correct, every person has their own individual chatacter and tradition – and that is exactly what I was talking about in this post. It’s my personal experience, and I want to narrate it – that’s it.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Do drop by again to tell me how you find Sharjah Aquarium 🙂

    Have a great day!

  26. Khanum says:


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