Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maakt u een praatje op ons stoepje

I guess I am one of those guilty individuals who rarely make contact with neighbors. I am far from being shy in real life but I shy away from making social contact (I do not have a disease!) in the neighborhood because, honestly, I am simply just not interested?

Well, the short walk to the city center yesterday made me feel small, like I should be accountable to my surroundings when I saw this rainbow painted stone slab just 2 blocks away from where we live.

“Maakt u een praatje op ons stoepje” means and is a call to action to the people in the neighborhood to have or build more contact with each other.

With the growing individualism and please-mind-your-own-business attitude in the society, getting neighbors to bypass the standard ‘hallo’, ‘goede morgen’, and ‘dag’ greetings has become one of the more difficult social challenges in neighborhoods nowadays. I cannot deny the fact that this is a good call to action -- build more contact with people around us and not build walls, albeit idealistic.

OK, what about if some people prefer to be on their own?

When I used to live in Greenhills, Manila (Dutchman always laughs at my address because it rhymes with Quack Quack, lol), I barely knew anyone in the condominium except the security guards. My neighbors rarely greet in the lift. To some, I smile. Maybe it’s the big city fast paced life mentality where people tend to ignore each other by the mile -- hey, I have my busy life, and you have yours!

To be brutally honest, I can’t really be bothered with neighbors BUT I try to be civilized, to maintain politeness and greet everyone cordially when I meet them. It is just not me to be freely engaging with other people for the sake of chatting or putting my nose into their businesses, i.e. the endless talks about the dreary Dutch weather, oi someone has blocked the driveway yesterday, or did you hear the next door neighbor last night playing loud the organ again? (this actually happened, apparently some neighbors complained about the strange music this guy was playing, and
in his attempt to bid his excuses decided to ring everyone’s doorstep including ours, lol)

Moreover, and maybe this is shameful to disclose online, I really don’t have the need to make friends. I don’t have the need or call it urge to belong to a neighborhood – or yearning for that feeling of belongingness and acceptance as esteemed by many. I simply don’t have any interest whatsoever? And I refuse to be a fake because I cannot be sharing my private space physically if I don’t know the person for quite some time. Logical right.

So, I have never asked a neighbor to have coffee or tea with me at home.

I think life is simpler this way when you just mill about with your own life. It sounds a bit cold... yes, I admit, but it’s true, at least for me.

Perhaps this is the product of being too independent, being too individualistic and being a realist.

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