Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We love our neighbors ...

My posts have become fewer and the reason, apart from Word Twist and Word Challenge on Facebook ;), well our neighbors. No this is not a post about the nuisance they are, the noise they create or any such thing. In fact about how lucky I feel to be blessed with the wonderful neighbors I have who have now become such good friends, especially after the rehearsals for the Independence Day program, where we saw each other practically all day, looked after each others' kids, exchanged notes on all sorts of things all while gaily getting ready for the actual event. It brought us all so much closer.

And while I am at it, I am also going to write about the first truly good neighbor I had till last August who then moved elsewhere. It'll be good for me to look back on this post and count my blessings, for good neighbors are truly nothing short of a blessing. Unlike our friends and enemies, we have almost no say on what kind of neighbors we are going to end up with. It'll also be good for the kids when they grow up, very far away from the people to whom they are closest to right now, to be able to remember the times they spent with them when they were little.

Sarita was the first person who actually made me realize what all a neighbor can be. For the most part when we had her as a neighbor, I was pregnant with Jiya and she actually cared for me like a younger sister. She would ask me every now and then about my pregnancy cravings, what I felt like eating and almost every alternate day, if not everyday, there would be something yummy coming from her house to mine - home made namkeen, saboodana khichdi, saboodana vadas, ragda patties, the list was endless. I joked to her that my kitchen had more of her plates and bowls than my own and for the first time in my life I returned them empty many a times because I just couldn't keep pace. I could share a lot of my feelings with her and loved her company especially in the harsh winters. Arnav, her son, was Vansh's first best friend and inseparable for a long long time. He was about 15 months elder than him and helped him get potty trained, increased his verbal skills, aroused his interest in building blocks and many more such things. Arnav and Vansh spent nearly 3-4 hours with each other every single day and more often than not Sarita offered to have them both at her place so that I could get some rest/some chores done with the toddler away. We also made two trips together to Wisconsin Dells and Los Angeles, apart from the daily walks together, and needless to say we had a gala time. They left last August and for a long time Vansh took their names in the same breath as his own family and still if he sees a 5th person drwan in a picture, after naming papa, mummy, Jiya, Vansh for the 4, he still usually says its Sarita aunty or Deepak uncle or Arnav depending on whether its a man's, woman's or child's picture.

I met Vani, who stays just a couple of doors away, for the first time in the neighborhood park when Jiya was just about a month old. Inba, her little boy, was touching 2 and she had just started sending him to a daycare as she searched actively for a job. We chatted for a while and just a couple of days later I found her at my door with 2 bowls of cooked vegetables and a gift for Baby Jiya. This was not expected at all and I couldn't thank her enough for the same. Vani is such a gentle person and though we do not see each other for days on end, owing to her job and then catering to a little one after that while me being busy in the evenings myself with dinner and the kids' activities, she stills holds a very special place in my heart and its always so soothing to listen to her calm and sweet voice and catch up with her when we do. She is so sweet that when she and her culinarily talented husband cook something special and it turns out nice, she calls me to say just that and share it. The jalebi, you shared yesterday was awesome Vani (I'll share this post with you, so I know you'll read it!)

Sindhu is such a delight. Bubbly and young and such a truthful and honest person, always so willing to help. She has been here for a while now and our relationship has grown slowly and subtly. I first met her at Sarita's place playing with Arnav and thought probaly she was a visiting niece or relative, probably in her late teens. When Sarita introduced her to me, it came as a bit of a surprise that she was married. We were out of touch for some time after Sarita left, in spite of the fact she stays practically next door. I think we started meeting again when another neighbor's parents were visiting them last year and they spent a lot of time with me and Sindhu since their own daugher-in-law was working. She and her husband surprised us on our anniversary by bringing us flowers and chocolates. Slowly she started getting attached to Vansh and Jiya. Vansh treated her and still does like his own buddy. Funnily Arnav used to ask her if her dad (actually her husband) had returned from office. She is the only person from whose lap Jiya refuses to return to my own. Which is not surprising at all for both she and Pravin, her husband treat them like their own kids. We go to the complex swimming pool together many a times and I feel equally safe leaving my children with them for a few minutes as I do with Ashwini. Innumerable times I leave my kids or the baby monitor with her when I need to be away from the house for a short time and many a times she adjusts her own schedule to suit mine saying that mine is dependent on my children and she is free that ways.

Last and by no means the least, dear Lopa :) Thinking about her brings a smile to my face. She moved here just 2 months back and I feel like I have known her for the longest time. She has literally brought a totally new dimension to our neighborhood. Knocking on my door and Sindhu's and then having a meeting right there be it to discuss her kids' (she has 7 year old twins - boy and girl) costumes and how she can add more effects or to ask us what sari to wear herself or to just tell us the latest scoop that happened in another building, she is a delight. It has come to a point where as soon as two of us are outside, the third one immediately comes outside too hearing the other two's voices. She calls herself half mother to my children and I love that feeling that they are loved just as much as they are at home, when they go to play there. Sabar and Antara, her children, show off Jiya like their own sister to their friends telling them with pride that she comes to play at their house everyday :) She was the one who sent out an e-mail to our apartment's yahoo group at the time of rehearsals that anyone who would like to participate in any program and is not being able to do so owing to little children could go ahead and leave their children with her while they practised. It takes a lot of love in one's heart to make an offer like that. And she is such a natural with any child. She would herself come and take Jiya with her even if I hesitated in taking her to Lopa's place.

It is so wonderful to have that kind of support system when we are so far away from family. I really have to consider myself blessed to have such good friends as my neighbors. Its such a wonderful feeling to be able to celebrate festivals and special days, exchange sweets along with recipes, and on regular days know that you can just walk out your door and knock at theirs at any time without being unwelcome ever, to know they'll be there to share joys and sorrows or just a cup of coffee.

9 comments:

Mystic Margarita said...

You are indeed lucky! Good neighbours who are also good friends are hard to come by. And the Independence day celebrations seem to have been a lot of fun - you look gorgeous! Btw, I've been meaning to tell you this - has anyone told you you resemble the actress Bhagyashree? :)

Making Memories said...

u sure r lucky Neera, it sounds like mini India in US.

noon said...

Man,you are so lucky. Or may be it is not just that - it is you - you are so nice and good natured - somehow I guess good things happen to such people! :) It is not common esp in the US to have such friendly neighbors...it happens - but not always...glad you have good friends so close to you...

lopamudra said...

Hey Neera no words can express the feelings I have after going through your latest post.I am totally impressed at your narrative skills.Natural!
I am equally lucky to have such good neighbours.And I cant really believe it is only two months since we moved here.

Neera said...

margarita: I know I am, lucky and blessed. You know a few friends did say that when I was young, uh ..younger i mean ;) but it has been a very long time. thank you :)

deepali: I know, thats what Ashwini says these days ..mujhe lagta hai main India mein hi rah raha hoon :)

noonoo: he he he ..i was counting on that comment from u praising me as I praised my friends :)Thanks so much nonetheless :)

lopa: I know the feeling's mutual :)

Suma said...

i know, good neighbors are really hard to come by...my friend moved back to india and i know just what you mean ...her kids were always in my house and vice versa...

it means a lot esp when you are in a foreign land with two little children, u feel the need to bond with someone other than family

PG said...

Oh! you are so lucky! And it is so good to have neighbours.
Now we have finally got someone living upstairs, a 5 year old girl, with whom Rishab plays now and then. Otherwise, I am most of the time calling up friends all living not so closeby to meet. That's not so often.

PG said...

that should have been "such good neighbours" sorry1
am in a hurry now. :)

Neera said...

suma: Oh my! hope ur kids are coping fine. Vansh had a tough time last year when Arnav left.

pg: I know how tough that is. I spent the first 1 year like that and at that time the kids were not there, so I could go a lot of places but still it was tough. With children, its tougher.