Photo taken from Flickr: here
Taking freshly cooked, home baked, goodies to neighbours. I thought that only happened in movies. But we decided to try it out in real-life. We baked coconut-lime muffins and went on a trip around the new neighbourhood to introduce ourselves.
What we found was interesting. It is one of the marvels of Australia. The first house, opposite ours, had 1 man living in it. He was from Nanjing Province, China. His house was surrounded by red lanterns and as soon as we greeted him and gave him our muffins he immediately took out some green tea from his cupboard and offered it to us in return. He bowed politely and offered us to have Oolong tea with him at his house. He was learning English as we stepped inside the house.
The Oolong tea had come from a Government official friend in China, he told us. He took out a special tea making pot and steeper and, using his kettle from China and sitting on the floor, he began making the tea. His house was full of little ornaments from China, and probably with memories from his life in China. He is a businessman and his wife and young daughter are back in China.
We sipped tea and talked for a good while about China, politics, about the Mandarin language, about Europe. Then said our goodbyes and were off. Out of China and onto the next world.
Next we were greeted by an Indian couple, also living opposite to us. The husband was from Punjab, India and the wife was of Indian heritage but from the UK. They had 2 cats. We were again offered tea. This time the choice was Indian tea or English tea. We opted for the simpler English tea. Again, after we gave our muffins we were offered to take a box of M&Ms in return. We chatted about the neighbourhood, learnt all about their families and cats. He is a taxi driver and she works in finance. Then we also said goodbye and went our way.
It is amazing how these 2 neighbours live right next to each other yet they are so different. Worlds apart. Yet living so close. Not aware of each other. Neither wanting to find out more about who is living next to them.
Next we met the neighbours immediately next to us. They were Australians. An older couple, both nurses. We offered our muffins, she took it and said her husband will really like it. Not surprisingly, we were not offered anything back (not that we expected anything, in fact I only noticed this difference later when thinking about the different cultures of our neighbours). We were not invited to go inside but were left with a vague mention of getting together later on.
Really though, I thought, only in a place like Australia can we be surrounded by neighbours from all around the world. This article on Wikipedia says that there are residents from 180 countries living in Victoria, Australia, speaking over 233 languages and dialects and following 116 different religions. Living in so close proximity (the houses are literally only centimetres apart) and minding their own business, but very friendly when approached.
It was also interesting to note the different cultures and actions of the different neighbours. According to this article, based on results from the Censuses of 1991 to 2011, in 2011 only 26% of the residents identified themselves as having Australian ancestry. The remainder were 24.3% English, 6.7% Irish, 6.3% Italian, 6.3% Indian, 6.2% Scottish, 4.5% Chinese, 3.4% Maltese, 3.2% Filipino and 2.8% German. The article also states that 5% of residents were born in India, followed by 4% born in the UK. Amazingly cool!
We definitely look forward to meeting many more people around the neighbourhood and making new friendships.