03 May 2022

Do You Help Your Neighbour?

If a loaded truck pulls into the parking lot near your building, you know that a new neighbour is shifting in. You know it from the load in the truck. No matter how you pretend, you know there has been an empty flat in the building since the last occupant left. You even know why they left and where they moved to. So you have been expecting a new neighbour.

But in Thimphu, you somehow don't come out to welcome your new neighbour. You peek through the window but don't even open your door to say hi. You don't think it's your business. 

Having come from a village --where we come together as a community to help each other build houses, harvest crops, celebrate birth, grieve deaths and so on-- when I see a new neighbour, I go out to greet them and help them unload the truck and carry their stuff up the stairs into their new home. On the other hand, my wife will either prepare tea or arrange cold drinks for the newcomers. We extend the same courtesy to outgoing neighbours too. 

If a friend or a relative is shifting their house and I'm aware of it, I go to help them even if it's not anywhere near the neighbourhood. If necessary, I will take my pickup truck along. And my wife will prepare tea or a meal depending on the necessity of the situation.

When I went to help a friend shift his house today, my expectations were low from his neighbours. Sure enough, no one came out of their homes to help us. Neither in his old neighbourhood from where we were moving nor in the new community. Forget about helping us; there were two incidents where we were asked to move our truck so that they could drive into their parking. They could kindly park somewhere else for a while.

My wife offered to make tea for us, but I had to drive all the way back home to pick it up, so I scrapped the idea. But I thought there would be other friends and relatives with all sorts of refreshments and lunch. Guess what, we had to order home delivery food. I lamented how Thimphu has quickly outgrown our beautiful Bhutanese way of life, community ties, and traditional values.

When I pointed that out to my friend and his wife, they said it's still way better than in Australia, where they can't bother their friends, so they hire professional logistics whom they pay by hours. They are grateful that quite a few of us came to help. Someday even this might become a story to tell. 

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