Striving to stay neighbourly during the lockdown

PETALING JAYA: It is understandable to notice your housemate’s annoying habits while you’ve been under lockdown for a while.

Sometimes, though, the inconsiderate traits of those living around us may be a greater bother.

Recently, police in Shah Alam received two reports of a fight between two groups of neighbours sparked by a disagreement over gardening and parking.

A video of the feud also went viral.

According to Associate Prof Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan, getting frustrated over the neighbours’ habits is expected when people are stuck at home during lockdown.

“We feel stuck and that makes us feel helpless," the Taylor’s University Bachelor of Psychology and Centre for Human Excellence and Development director said on Tuesday (June 15).

“When you are feeling helpless, you tend to be a little territorial and look for small things to fuss over to give you at least a sense of power over your small environment and the people around you,” she added.

Prof Anasuya said people may have been more tolerant of minor annoyances or not noticed them at all before the movement control order (MCO) and lockdown as they were busy with other things.

When approached, a few people said they generally try to keep the peace with their neighbours but admitted that certain behaviour left them ticked off.

One, who only wanted to be known as Rafi, said his neighbour has an odd habit of peeping over the fence to look at his parents’ garden.

“I have no idea why she does that and she also has a habit of giving our domestic helper gardening tips. Maybe she wants to see our garden thrive,” he said.

For writer Farah, haphazard parking around her area gets her annoyed.

“There are so many cars parked here now during lockdown and someone will complain if they find anyone parking in an inconsiderate manner,” she said.

However, she said such irritations are soon soothed after a talk with car owners but she continues to keep a close eye on things to see that her neighbours park their cars properly.

Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association president Anita Abu Bakar said amidst the irritations, she has also seen some acts of kindness among her neighbours.

“I’ve seen a few compassionate acts and I’ve received food from my neighbours while I’m stuck at home. I see it as a gesture of support,” she said.

Anita said while it is normal to feel frustrated over our neighbours’ behaviour during lockdown, we can get over such feelings by being mindful and forgiving.

“Be mindful of yourself and your actions and it also pays to practise forgiveness and empathy because our neighbours might be going through something themselves,” she said.

Anita said it also helps to have a routine to keep busy and also schedule calls with friends and families you have not met in person for a while to catch up and get things off your chest.

On June 13, Shah Alam OCPD Asst Comm Baharudin Mat Taib said police received two reports over a clash between two groups of neighbours living in Section 24, Shah Alam.

The video of the feud, which occurred around 3pm on June 11, went viral.

The feuding parties later retracted their police reports and made peace with each other.

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