Most of us have them, unless we are rich enough or for other reasons live somewhere so remote nobody gets closer than, say, a 2 km radius: neighbours.
Sometimes we need them, sometimes we like them, and sometimes we curse them.
I've had quite a contrast of neighbourly experiences last night, and decided to write about it here.
My place is one of six flats in two semi-detached houses sharing one wall, three flats for either semi, and mine being the middle one of the house on the left, seen from the front door.
None of the names on the six doorbells and mailboxes is German (mine isn't, either, mind you), but apart from me, everybody else is of Turkish origin.
The couple below me are Nesla and Murat, both in their late twenties; they married about two years ago. Murat is a teacher and Nesla works at a travel agency at the airport; they have a 7 month old cat and are very pleasant neighbours; they have also been very kind to me when my husband died last year, with Murat and his father (who lives in the flat above mine) even attending the funeral we had here in Germany, something I had never expected.
Yesterday, when I came home from work and opened my windows to let some air in, Nesla was outside in the small garden behind our house, playing with her cat. I said hello, we chatted for a minute or two, until Nesla spontaneously invited me to join her for dinner; she was going to cook fish and vegetables in the oven.
Given the choice of (yet another) lone meal of bread and cheese (I simply can't be bothered to cook for myself) or having a proper home-cooked meal in nice company, it did not take me long to decide, and a few minutes later, I was downstairs at Nesla's, where I spent an enjoyable evening.
We prepared the meal together, and while it was in the oven, played with the cat who was quite happy about receiving so much attention. Nesla told me about her childhood; she is the 5th of seven children from a farm, and some of the stories reminded me of the two years I lived in a small village near the French border, where my friend lived on the biggest farm of the village - paradise for us kids!
The fish & veg was good, and we talked some more, until at around 10 pm I thanked my dear hostess for the lovely evening and went back upstairs.
It was too early yet for me to sleep, so I read for maybe an hour.
When I was just about to switch the light off, next door (same level as my flat, but the other semi) a male voice started to shout.
Of course I knew whose voice it was.
Maybe a year ago, a young man moved in there; I had always assumed he lived there on his own, because almost from day one he tried - in vain - to chat me up and get a date with me (my husband was still alive by then).
Now, I could clearly hear a female voice answering back, although not shouting.
His shouting grew more aggressive by the second, I could hear household objects being thrown around and crashing, and by the sound of it, I was pretty sure he was hitting her.
Since it was all in Turkish, I had no idea what the argument was about, but frankly, I didn't care - nothing, I repeat, NOTHING justifies hitting your partner, no matter if male or female - unless it is hitting back in self-defence.
I banged my fists against the wall separating my bedroom from what I think is his living room, and was about to get my phone and call the police, when all noise stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
For a while, I was rather upset and kept my phone on the bedside table to call the police in case they'd start again, but all remained quiet.
My light switched off, I finally settled down to sleep, and last thing I remember is that I heard someone's telly, but it wasn't loud enough to really disturb me.
Next time I happen to come across Mr. Chat-Up, I am going to tell him in no uncertain terms what I think of his behaviour. I am not that stupid as to endanger myself, but people like that make me so very, very mad.