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Food & Drinks

With pubs closed, now I know my neighbours

A jar and a glass of beer
A jar and a glass of beer. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I don’t know my neighbours. I know them by the cars they drive. The women and men they bring home. I know them from how long they keep their beards and how low or high their dresses usually are.

I know some by their reverse parking skills (often shameful). But I don’t know their names. Or what they do. Or who they are. With a few, we exchange curt nods of hellos whenever we run into each disposing of the trash.

Most mind their own business —as I do. Life turned us into these people who don’t know each other. Who are not curious about each other. I come in when some are leaving. They come in when I’m leaving.

We come in at different times. Sometimes they don’t come in at all. We are not in a WhatsApp group like some neighbourhoods, which is a bad and good thing because some neighbours have insomnia and tend to send rubbish messages at off hours. We are bad neighbours.

But recently with this quarantine I have noticed some people I didn’t know lived in our block. For instance, I saw a guy smoking a cigarette from his balcony speaking like a Tanzanian. [To mean, eloquent Kiswahili, not English). I told the security guy, “there is a strange dodgy guy smoking in house 12.” He said, “Biko, that tenant has lived here longer than you have.”

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The good thing that’s come out of all this fiasco is one day I knocked on the door of the guy who lives below me. He’s an older man, maybe in his 50s, lives alone, no children, no pets, drives a classic Mercedes, smokes a lot that I can sometimes smell him before I see him, and is constantly on the phone. We spoke to each other from a distance of two meters. We had a laugh. He then brought out a glass of whisky to toast to the new found friendship. “To Corona,” I said, raising our glasses without clinking.

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