an unexpected encounter

slice of life 2014

I got off the elevator and headed towards my apartment. To my surprise, I saw the door wide open to the apartment next to mine. The door was never wide open, unlike the other neighbor down the hall that leaves their door open quite often. I could peer into the long hallway that led to their open living room and dining table. Right outside the open door, crouched next to their new rectangular white shoe rack outside their door, was the older auntie tidying the shoes.

My apartment door is literally right next to my neighbor’s at a ninety degree angle. I had my key in my right hand and as I walked up to my door, she greeted me with a hello. I said hi back and then proceeded to put my key into the lock.

“Happy new year,” she said quietly and I turned to face her. This was the first time I met my neighbor. It did seem a bit strange, that I never met my neighbors earlier. They had been living there for a little less than a year.  We literally live right next to each other, sharing walls, and a few steps from each other’s front door, but I never see them. I did like how they were a bit festive and put up decorations on their door for Chinese New Year and also for Christmas.

As I started talking to her she asked me where I was from. I guess she could tell from my accent that I wasn’t a local. Then, she had her daughter come over and we started to chat. I found out she was from Malaysia, and I also found out that her daughter enjoys kimchi (after I told her I was Korean). She hospitably told me to come over for tea anytime.

Maybe I’m just not neighborly enough to introduce myself to the neighbors in my hallway (only 3 other apartments on my floor), but I rarely see any of them. It’s funny because growing up on a suburban dead end street, I knew all of my neighbors. I knew their kids. I knew if they gave good Halloween candy. I would often babysit for them.

Yet, here in Singapore, I’ve found it harder to meet and know my neighbors in my apartment building. It’s probably partly my fault. Maybe the next holiday season I can bake them something? Or will they feel obliged to bring me something in return? Or maybe I can just wait and see if I can run into them more casually?

The slice of life challenge is hosted by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us in this month long blogging challenge!


15 thoughts on “an unexpected encounter

  1. elsie says:

    chance encounters seem to be the only way to meet those around you. Everyone is usually so busy with their lives they don’t have time (or desire) to expand their circle of friends. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t know my neighbors.

  2. Linsey Taylor says:

    I think this is a sign of the times. Like you, I knew all my neighbors as a kids. Now I barely know the neighbors on either side of me much less anyone else on my street. It’s a bit sad really. I say bake them something the next holiday and get to know them… I really need to take my own advise. lol

  3. jhaworthoy says:

    How nice to come home at just the time your neighbor’s door was open. It is so difficult to know if a neighbor enjoys getting to know you…but it seems like this neighbor will welcome your company and/or any treat you might bring them. I would keep that connection open…not that you have to visit every day or every week…but it is good to know your neighbors and visit or chat monthly.

  4. Raivenne says:

    I personally liked the old fashioned notion of welcoming new neighbors. At least the ones right next door to me. Regardless, I’ve learned it rarely hurts to at least nod one’s head and say “Hi” now and again. I hope this is start of a lovely friendship for you and your neighbor.

  5. Kristi Lonheim says:

    Having neighbors in the city is different than neighbors in the suburbs. There is something about being on top of one another and sharing entry space and walls. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it is different.

  6. Stacey Shubitz says:

    I barely knew any of my neighbors when I lived in DC, NYC, and Providence. Now, I know them well. In fact one of them called me this morning (we’re snowed-in here) just to catch up. I think that not knowing neighbors is a symptom of apartment life. That said, baking for them next holiday season might be a way to change that.

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