Tag Archives: neighbors

The Dog Next Door

The first day I opened the door to the backyard, the dog next door kicked up an inferno of barks to scare me. I was showing the tree cutting chap what needed to be done. The hedges near my bedroom had to be trimmed. There was a large grapefruit tree protruding into our space over the fence from our rear neighbor. Another large bush was hanging out into our yard from our left neighbor. The grass had grown sky high that had to be cut.

After showing the chap out, I was locking the door in the fence, (which is on the left side) when the dog started barking at me. He was jumping up trying to clear the fence to get to me. The barking sounded extremely ferocious. I called to calm him down but the sound of my voice made him more agitated. I hurriedly locked the door, and entered the safety of my home through the back door.

I dreaded every time I had to open the door to someone. I feared being bitten by the dog. At any slight noise he would appear alongside the fence, and bark, and growl his head off. It truly was frightening. I kept wondering at what I should do to appease him.

I had hardly seen my left sided neighbor. Most ladies in the neighborhood are working, and I was never at the right time to meet any of them. Son had apparently met nearly all the neighbors, except for our right neighbor which to this day both of us have never seen. Son parks his car in the driveway during daytime. Coming, and going he got to know the neighbors.

One day Son called me, “Come here Mama, meet Rachel.” After meeting her I learnt that the dog I dreaded was a she, and not a he, and her name was Lady. Rachel leaves her in the backyard to scare off any potential burglar wanting to enter the house from the back. That was another thing I came to know recently. Most burglars enter homes from the backsides. They know that someone may be watching on the front, so they enter from the back.

Lady has tampered down her barking at me, as I potter around at the back. She does a mild woof, and then she goes off to chase squirrels 🐿,🐿,🐿, or birds. But now Son bears the brunt of her ferocious barks. As soon as she glimpses Son, she goes into a frenzy of barks driving Son mad at her.


My condo in Charlottesville was on first floor. Directly below me lived Mia. Her parents had shifted from Malaysia. Mia had married a white American, and had two adorable twin boys, who were two years old. I could see the two boys racing their cars on the sidewalk from my sitting area. They would be watched either by their father, or mother.

Mia’s mother still dressed in a Malaysian dress when she would come to call. She would be talking loudly in her native tongue. In those days I wasn’t friends with Mia, so I was quite confused as to whether the people down below could speak English. That cleared up when I met Mia in the local mosque. Her husband had converted to Islam from Christianity. Mia came regularly to the mosque, and when I would climb the stairs to my condo, I could hear the Quranic verses being played in her home.

During the Ramadan period I had there, she sent me a couple of times a Malay dish for Iftari. The filling was mouth watering. It was chicken, and vegetables. I loved it, and wanted to know the recipe. There never came a time when I could learn it from her. When Son came for me after his divorce, and asked me to shift back to Houston to live with him, I said good bye to my neighborhood.

Yesterday it was quite by chance, I came upon the recipe, and learnt the name (I didn’t even know the name) of the dish I liked. It’s Chinese by origin. The different countries around China have adapted it to their own liking. My Afghan neighbors next door in home country had their own version which was uncooked. I never liked it, but never had the gumption to admit. It would have been terribly rude, and I can never be a rude person. Every time they sent me, I was forced to sing platitudes.

Insha’Allah I will be trying my new found recipe after a day, or two. Let’s see how my version comes out.


Son, and I live in an apartment. It’s a huge complex, and in each building there are twelve apartments. Ours is a corner one on the ground floor. Son rented it, and moved to it when his ex filed for a divorce. Alone, he came after me to Charlottesville, and asked me to come, and live with him. He says, “If I hadn’t been there for him, he would have died”. It has been a traumatic experience for him.  

We have covered car parking. Son, and mine spaces are side by side. On the left side of my car is our upper story neighbor T’s car. We chat together when we see each other at the car parking. We have never been to each other apartments. We laugh, and exchange a few words, then she goes her way, and I mine.

Same is the case with the neighbors who live directly over us. We exchange pleasantries when we cross each other, they are going out, and I’m coming in, or vice versa. The top floor neighbor is a police officer. He, and his family come and go at hours at which we never really see them. We only come to know that they are there by their cars, and when their cars are not there it means they have left.

Son is on greeting terms with the rest of them, where as I haven’t been face to face with any of them. So this is our neighborhood. We don’t know how much longer we’re staying here. I normally get attached to places where I stay, and I know I will be sad upon leaving.



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Daughter talks to me on Face Time nowadays, as she is no longer in Hartford. I usually put on the speaker phone. It allows me to multi task, and hands free while talking to her, besides my hands don’t ache constantly holding the phone to my ear

Most of my neighbors keep dogs. Some are so enamoured they have three instead of one. When daughter talks, she can hear the cacophony of noise offered by the neighborly canines.

Myself, I’m attuned to them by now, and my mind barely register the unholy sound emanating from their throats. For me it’s just a background noise. It doesn’t bother me. Even if it was a source of frustration, what could I do? I can’t go around banging my neighbor’s’ doors complaining to them about their pets.

Daughter was wondering aloud today, “How can you put up with so much noise? Why don’t you move from this neighborhood?”

I want to, and I have tried, but the matter isn’t in my hands. Whenever God Wills it, it will happen.



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Son has been asking for Pistachio Ice cream. That’s one of his favorites. I have been meaning to make it for him. It’s only that I haven’t been well lately, and easily get tired.

It can use up the crumbs made from Basraji toasts. I was intrigued when I first heard the name from Son’ lips. Son always called the end toasts of a bread loaf that name. He would say that he was having a Basraji toast. It would go over my head, now what did he mean by that?

It came about when I wasn’t home, my late husband got them (Son and his wife) a new maid Basraj from our village. I was in Michigan with my daughter, and couldn’t help Son’s wife. From the minute she entered our home, it was for her to rule. She often refused to do the work around the house. Son’s wife put up with her, as they searched for someone else in her place. 

She would throw the ends of loaf in the dustbin — hence the name for the toast. She often terrorized our next door neighbors, as they were our tenents. She would go to their home, and would march to their fridge, and take whatever she wanted. They shouldn’t have put up with her behavior, but they were good people. If I was in their place, I would have refused her entry into my home.

Sep 20, 2017



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The Doggy Menace

Some dogs are adorable with their sweet doggy faces and irresistible manners. Even when they are not tethered on a leash, they will pass by you calmly, and cooly without threatening you with their barking. There are others who are real pests. The minute they espy you, they will bark with vigor, or try to nip at your ankles. I simply detest them, and view their owners as pests too, if they can’t restrain their dogs.

When I lived with Son in his old neighborhood, nearly every person living there had a dog. Son had cautioned me not to walk further away from the house, when I would be on my own, and he wasn’t there. I’m addicted to my walk after evening meals, and for me it is my only form of exercising.

The neighbors at our back were extremely likable people, but their dog was a brat. He would see me through the slats in the wooden enclosure, and rush nearer to angerly bark at me. Though I was walking on the side path by the house, and he couldn’t get at me, he would scare me. The neighbor would come out (Bless him) every time, and take the dog inside, so I could have a peaceful walk.

But there were other dogs to contend with. A small, black dog belonging to another neighbor was a ferocious little thing. He tried his best to take a bite whenever he saw me walking. I feared him, and prayed every time for my safety from his endeavors. I bought a cane to keep him away. I would brandish it in his face till his owner would come, and drag him away from me. It was the same  with another dog in the neighborhood. My guarding Angels saved me from being attacked.

Son got me a dog restrainer device. It was very effective. I carried it with me on my walks, and getting scared by dogs became a thing of the past. The dogs got scared instead.



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Our new neighbors had started building their house. It was at our back. Our privacy was gone. The workers could see into our bedroom, and kitchen. I couldn’t keep curtains drawn all the time during daytime, and felt miserable without the sunlight. I felt lost without the brightness in our lives.

The only solution was to change the glass in our windows. I wish I had gone myself to find out which types of glasses were available. I didn’t. I left it to my late husband. When I went into the bedroom, and kitchen after the new glasses were fitted, I felt like I was blind. The glasses were opaque

No one could look inside, but we couldn’t look outside too. It was highly disappointing. I could do nothing about it. It didn’t make sense to spend more money thrice on the windows. I let it be, and got used to it after some time.



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I consider myself a martyr. The question arises why do I think so? I am, because for the last so many years I am putting up with a dish which my Afghan neighbors make, and send to me. I hate it, and sadly I don’t have the courage to tell them. Every time it comes, I eat a spoon, or so, and the rest I consign to the garbage.

I feel guilty in the sense that they wasted hours on it, and I don’t like it. I wish they didn’t make me eat it. The dish does have a strange name, and I have been totally unable to grasp it. Every time they pronounce the name, in reply I ask, “eh?”.

They repeat it. Again another “eh?” I gave up trying to get its’ name.




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The First Time

Pleased to Meet You
by Ben Huberman
Write a post in which the protagonists of two different books or movies meet for the first time. How do they react to each other? Do they get along?

New neighbors, we meet for the first time
We look at each other warily

Talkative, energetic, she looks like
While I am quiet, and awkward, as can be

Will we hit off, and will we be friends?
Seems unlikely, as we are opposites truly

Her children are noisy, they never sit still
While mine eye them, wordlessly

A few months later, she is a friend
We like each other immensely


Strawberries And Cream

Last week, I visited our village. I brought back with me fresh strawberries from the fields. My brother and neighbors were delighted when I sent them the fruit. The thing was, it was fresh and larger than the market variety.

Equal amount of sliced strawberries and whipped cream makes a nice dessert when it is chilled properly. I simply love it. My favorite is strawberry jam. Way back I used to make a huge amount to last us a year long. I would sterilize the bottles and store the prepared jam. Now, I take an easy way. Suppose it is four cups strawberries, I add two cups sugar to it. Add to it the juice of two lemons plus half a cup of water. Put the pot on slow heat till the sugar melts. Increase the heat so that it is bubbling. Keep stirring (I suddenly remembered this part) till it reduces slightly, or the consistency you want. Add one table spoon butter to bring a sheen to it. Another second or two and take it off the cooker. Pour it into a clean jar and after it cools put it in the fridge.

Its mouth watering and a million times better than the store brought variety. The plus point, it’s free of preservatives.