Back in my homeland we have a small house in a locality where the houses are falling over each other. The houses are so close together that we can hear loud arguments or children crying in the house next door. Standing on the terrace we can look into all the surrounding houses. Any information that you do not manage to obtain in this way about your neighbors can be gotten by the cleaning ladies who frequent all the houses of the neighborhood.
Our next door neighbors have a lot of people living in the house with children of all sizes. We know this because every time a child is born they distribute mithai (traditional sweets) in the neighborhood.
One of the children is called Abdullah (we hear his mother calling him) and he is too naughty to go to school. They have tried putting him in school but after a few days the school sends him back. So Abdullah spends his time on the street waiting for the other children to return from school. Once the other children are back, it’s time for the cricket matches to start. Since the houses do not have backyards the matches are played on the street. The batsman hits the ball and it lands neatly on our terrace. Now the children are very considerate and do not bother to ring the bell and ask for the ball. The little monkeys simply go into their own house, climb the wall over onto our terrace and retrieve the ball. Another consequence of the cricket matches is that almost every week our gate lights are broken and have to be changed.
On top of all the children, the neighbors also kept a chicken and a rooster in their house. The rooster liked to climb into our house and peck on our plants. Fortunately one of the local cats solved this problem and the rooster is no more.
When we moved to Dubai we came into a locality with 3 to 5 bedroom villas with 2 car porches, a maid’s room and a big backyard. I wanted to make friends with the neighbors so I sent them some chocolates with my husband’s visiting card hoping that they would come over to say thank you. That never happened. I continued to make efforts but to no avail. Finally I gave up. Years later I have realized that only people of same nationalities socialize here. It’s really a shame.
And thinking about it, I kind of miss the cricket matches back home.
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