Cover photo via Simply Normal
Remember when we chased after the ‘roti man’ on our bicycles for a box of Tora and cream buns? Or when we would spend our evenings outdoors near bridges and rivers with friends, talking about hopes and dreams? Life was simpler back then. The whole neighbourhood was our makeshift playground and we were the proud rulers in our own imaginations.
Photo via Picnoi
Back then we’d be best buds with most of the kids on our block, even if they went to different schools. Our mothers were also quite close to one another. Exchanging meals ― be it lauk-pauk or sweet treats like bread pudding, baulu and other kuih-muih ― was common, and we enjoyed cuisines from different cultures.
Parents always had a monthly or annual Rukun Tetangga meet where they’d express opinions on neighbourhood issues. Pothole-ridden road? Solve it together. Monkey problems? Call the relevant authorities. Haunted mansions? Gossip and hope for the best. No issue was taboo or couldn’t be shared, even if bringing them up made discussions tense.
Photo via Fotolla
Apparently, those days are gone. Do you know the names of your next-door neighbours? Have you ever attended their open houses during festive seasons? How about the uncle who lives across the road? We live in an era of effortless communication, yet we can’t seem to connect and interact the way we used to. We were supposed to be better, remember?
Photo via Pinterest
If you take a walk to your neighbourhood park, you rarely see kids playing on the slides, the see-saws or swings. In some cases, the equipment is not even safe to use because it was left to rot. The youngins prefer LOL-ing at home while watching their favourite streamers react to horror video games. Why would they go to the park? Internet entertainment is more exciting, engaging and doesn’t require kids to move their limbs or get bitten by mosquitos.
You can’t blame them for their lifestyles though. After the abduction and murder of Nurin Jazlin, a silent hysteria swept across the nation. Mothers forbade their children from playing outside. Since then, children adapted to the comforts of staying inside. Playing indoors became the norm.
Adults are also guilty of being too occupied with busy schedules to get involved in neighbourhood activities. As wage growth becomes stagnant, who can blame us for hustling? Our neighbours are also probably too busy trying to make ends meet to stop for a chat. Who has time in this day and age?
While it’s great to focus on yourself, it’s vital to remember where our core strength lies: in harmony. Malaysians are famous for our strong communal spirit; our ability to overlook racial and religious differences is what makes us unique. Our neighbourhoods are built on this foundation! We’re going through tough times, but we should work towards becoming a community that knows and loves each other.
Photo via Freepik
Effort is key. Unmuting or joining the local WhatsApp group is a good start. Or maybe it’s time to heat up the oven and share the bounty of your kitchen with your jiran once again. Let’s bring back the glory days of our Malaysian neighbourhoods!
Not sure where to begin? Do your part by supporting family-owned businesses around your residential area. A treasure trove of friendly neighbourhood services is just waiting to be found! Get started at yellowpages.my