Saturday, August 16, 2008

Love thy neighbors
If you take into account the tone of my blog posts, you might get the impression I am a highly talkative, sociable and gregarious person. But folks, I'm not! That's just my virtual alter ego in a medium (the Internet) where I can be whatever I want to be without being judged for it.

People who actually know me in real life would attest to the fact I am pretty much a reticent person. In social gatherings, I would sit in my chair and hardly speak. I haven't mastered the art of making small talk. I'd like to say I'm shy but frankly I'm not. The appropriate term would be I am 'suplada', a snob.

I was taught at an early age that I should only talk to someone when I am spoken to. When I engage in conversations, I should talk in a refined manner. I shouldn't raise my voice. I should be polite. I have to mind my good manners and be respectful. I should not ask personal questions. Blah blah blah you get my drift.

But once you know me on a personal, intimate level, I can be quite goofy and dare I say 'likable' as a human being. I am more comfortable on a one to one basis than in groups. There are certain topics that get me talking till I lose my voice. While non interesting subjects will simply get a nod. I promptly shut off my brain and just pretend to listen. I guess you can say I am not a people's person.

D, on the other hand is fairly good at making conversation. Yet he isn't the loud mouth type of person, either. He has a comforting friendly tone to his voice when he converses with family, relatives and friends. Yet he can modulate it to a more stern authoritative tone, especially in his job as a professor.

Then he married me.

You know the snob. The one who took after her mother who doesn't like to chit chat with neighbors either. That's my father, the ever gracious ex diplomat's task. But my mother is far more sociable than I will ever be. I am not even ashamed to admit I am a snob. It is just the way I am, so deal with it alright? I am marvelously fine with it. Thank you. =)

So nowadays my hubby has been assigned the unpleasant task of hobnobbing with our neighbors. Neighbors # 2 is a young family with 2 kids plus a bunch of relatives also live with them. Neighbors # 3 are an older couple with 2 grown children. Neighbors # 4 well I'm not sure who they are. They aren't around much. So D being a polite person, he exchanges pleasantries with our neighbors in the pathway which connects all the apartments. But as much as possible, D doesn't really loiter. He isn't comfortable with the situation, either. He is a private person, a homebody type of guy. During his day off, he is either doing some work on his computer or he is reading some textbook to revise exams for his classes.

When he's at work and I'm all alone at home. I am upstairs in front of my computer. I hardly make any sound. Except for the clanging of the keyboard. I usually have my earphones on to listen to my mp3 to shut out the din with some pleasant music.

Our neighbors are loud. As in they bang their doors close. They manhandle the gate causing such a ruckus. They also talk pretty loudly. They would talk about all sorts of things. Taking prime decibel spot is the incessant chatter of young kids. They are frequently screaming at the top of their lungs. Day in and day out I am woken to the voice of the mother shouting at her 2 year old precocious daughter to wear her slippers. Or to stop playing with the stray cats (there are several of them just lounging around!). Or always berating the young child for some misdeed. I swear I could hear her piercing voice 3 houses away when we go out to catch a cab.

The only time there is some semblance of silence are in the afternoons (but that is not always the case). Probably they are taking their afternoon siesta while the kids are in school or something. Otherwise for some reason, they are always making 'tambay' outside their doors like it was de rigeur (the norm) to loiter.

During weekends, (more often than not) they have guests over for a night of drinking, bingeing and out of tune karaoke. D works on Saturdays and he comes home pretty late. He would be greeted by a whole group of people enjoying their weekend with liquors and songs. They would invite him to join their drinking session but he politely turns them down. His standard line of reasoning: he is allergic. The truth is he simply doesn't drink (fortunately!). Late at nights when we are reading in bed, we would eavesdrop on their conversations. Not that we can really shut it off like the TV. It can be heard several houses away. We call it our 'analysts' night since they would give their highly opinionated views on a wide range of topics at the top of their inebriated voices.

The one issue I have with them stems from something that isn't done by good law abiding citizens. But somehow we got ourselves involved in the situation simply for the sake of good neighborliness. Me, personally I would never do such a thing. I hate to impose on other people and put them in compromising situations. I don't think it is appropriate for me to discuss it on this blog. It might get us into trouble. But suffice it to say, it isn't sanctioned. I'm deeply troubled about it. D and I talked about it, several times. But he has no choice really. In local parlance it is called "pakikisama".

But hey my neighbors are not bad, evil people. They are friendly. They have given us pancit on special occasions like their birthdays. They receive our mail when we are out. But just don't ask me to make small talk with them, alright? I just don't do that, period! Because I'm a snob.

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