When i came back from JIMAS earlier this year, i made a few resolutions (uhmm... that sounds like a bid'ah- what i meant to say is that i set myself some targets ;)). One of these was to start to get to know my neighbours. Although quite a few of the residents on my road are renting, there are loads who have been there ever since i can remember and these are the ones i wanted to get to know better. This Monday as i arrived back from work, an English fella who lives further up the road was passing by the house, so i caught his attention and said to him that we've been living close to each other for so many years yet i've never said even said "hello" to him. He laughed and then we introduced ourselves to each other. He seems like a nice chap, and he said he'd pop over sometime.
I'm setting myself a target of getting to know 10 families by the next time JIMAS comes round. So far, i'm on 2 :)
I hope getting to know the neighbours will also help us understand each other's cultures and all that. I know that sounds quite corny, but its quite obvious that if you stick to your own people in totality and aren't exposed to others and their ways, you're bound to view the "others" with some degree of prejudice or fear, or negative feelings. I'll give you an example. In multicultural London, if you walk down the street in a thobe no one will look at you twice. However, when driving back from Leicester some time ago i had a friend who is a portly Arab man from the Middle East dressed in thobe and ghutra, and i could see a look of amazement and not-so-friendly looks on the faces of lots of the English people when we stopped at a petrol station. They must have been thinking "these Arabs are weirdos."
But the reverse is also true because just before we got to the petrol pump, we stopped at some traffic lights, and the one person who happened to cross the road right in front of the car was some weird hippie looking woman wearing some freaky fluorescent-pink skin-tight bottoms, holding some glittery hula-hoops in one hand and the leashes of three greyhound-like dogs in the other. My friend just laughed. I bet he was thinking "these Westerners are weirdos."