Knowing your Neighbours

    when I was growing up,I met a few British people. I remember a few friends of my parents, retired army officers who have settled in the hill stations of India. We used to spend our summers in Oooty ,Simla or Nainital. Which were small towns nestled among the hills. Where the summers were very pleasant and it snowed in winter. Whenever we were in Simla we were always invited to this British couple`s house. A beautifully kept bungalow, with very neat front gardens, mohagony furniture and crystal glasses and some fantastic cutlery and crockery.

They were charming people but rather reserved, compared to all the Indian friends my parents had.The British friends kept themselves just that bit aloof. Being polite and courteous at all times, but there always seemed a cut off point, where even as a child I knew that  can go that far and no further!

When I arrived in England, I found everyone at the hospital I worked to be friendly and supportive and  made lots of friends. But after moving to the west country and after having my first child,I found myself quite isolated.

I could not drive,we lived a long way away from the town and the nearest village was about four miles .Being at home with a toddler,I longed for adult company. I felt that I had to do something. I put up some notices in the village hall and the shop to say that I wonered if there were other women with two year old children who would like to get together for a cup of tea in the village hall, while the children could play together.I had about five replies,so I set a date and armed with a few tea bags and biscuits and some of the toys my son had, I started the first group, known as the mother and toddler group.The other mothers and children who came were as grateful for the company, as I have been. This became a weekly event and is to date going on in the same village hall, though I have had nothing to do with it, once my child was of the age to go to proper play school.
But the freinds my son and I made are still in touch with us, I neve felt that their was any barriers or that they were aloof.. When later on we bought our first house in the same village, I was shown such kindness and support. Mothers came bearing gifts, someone helped me make curtains, some taught me gardening, and there were always volunteers to baby sit if we ever wanted to go out. I felt as if I was taken under their collective wings!
Since we have moved twice, but have always known our neighbours. This present house is a close of just twelve houses. We all know each other. We have an annual BBQ every summer in my garden,and though we are never in and  out of each others houses all the time, we all know each other and what is happening in our lives.
So it surprises me to hear when it is said that community is dead. That there is no community in the Britain any more. Someone was saying on the radio that though there has been such rise in the social networking sites, and people spend so much time chatting on it, but they do not know who their neighbours are.

Is this true?

What about where you live,do you think it was better before,or have the British always been a bit aloof with their neighbours? Or is it a question of  approach?

My experience has been different to what is said. But I have only been here since 1970,so am not in a position to say how, and if attitudes have changed, am sure you will tell me.
Is it true that most people find it easier to talk to unkown people on a computer than face to face with their neighours?

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