So, you’ve finished college, landed a job and also rented a pad in the big city? As millennials leave their nests and settle in major cities, these new experiences symbolise freedom. But growing up also means developing necessary human skills to navigate through urban life while living in close proximity to people you have no idea about.
In the hierarchy of social relationships, neighbours come right after family and friends. These days news features carry grim tales of violent neighbours who poison stray dogs or bang into your new car but such folks are classified as Neanderthals, and, thankfully, they’re in fewer numbers.
In crammed Indian cities, neighbours also come in various types: nosy, grouchy, proud, aloof, moralistic, indifferent, perpetually angry, and some who are plain nice, soft-spoken and intelligent women and men.
Provided you are a decent, liberal human, here’s a list of simple things one can do to create a friendlier atmosphere within a 1000 sq ft area:
1. Acknowledge your neighbour
Introduce yourself to your immediate neighbours within the first week of moving in. Catch them at a relaxed time (usually evenings) and tell them about yourself and what you do. Ask them what they do and how long they’ve been living in the building. Often, people warm up to someone who takes initiative and will appreciate your effort. The point of this exercise is to make sure you give out and gather enough details to aid future interactions.
2. Let them know when you’re having a party
Lifestyle is one of the most common reasons why neighbours get miffed with each other. As a young person you’re bound to have friends over and maybe throw a few parties to celebrate life’s initial victories (a promotion perhaps!). Make sure you inform your neighbours about your party and its tentative end time a day earlier. You can even invite them if you want. Keep the decibels under check and stick to the party-closing time. Just because you decide to take a sick leave at 3 am after copious amounts of alcohol doesn’t mean your neighbours don’t have to wake up on time and get on with their life. In short, don’t be a nuisance.
3. Food is the best entry card
As a true Bandra girl, there’s no doubt that I can whip up a mean Chicken Xacuti. While my neighbours appreciate the aroma on Sundays, they’re more thrilled when I send a bowl across. This also makes them liable to offer you delicacies (Biryani during Eid is the best!). Above all, just ensure that you don’t offend your neighbours’ diet restrictions. No point offering vindaloo to a Jain family, know what I mean?
4. Get along with the kids
Families living in a city will invariably have children who may be closer to you in age or younger. In India, becoming friends with your neighbour’s kid will automatically open a door. Learn about their interests and be a good friend they can play with, learn from and seek intelligent advice. Think of it as your small contribution in developing future minds.
5. Come together for festivals and occasions
Community functions and major festivals are great to know people around you. One of my sweetest flatmates was usually seen as a weirdo in the apartment complex we lived in because of his knee-length dreadlocks. The minute he joined a Holi party, he was treated like an old friend and he ended up making more friends than me. Most people judge on appearance and it’s challenging to destroy those perceptions. However, the best way to do this is to be honest, have fun and reveal your inner charisma to your neighbours.
Image Credit: Dharma Productions