I miss neighbourhoods … where you could just pop into a friend\’s house uninvited, to chit chat or eat or drink something, or just yell your friend\’s name from outside his house, waiting for him to come out so that you can go to play, or gossip about another friend or talk random shit, or go for a walk, all the while talking animatedly about something that was the most important thing for you then, or go to another friend’s place and yell out his name, maybe plead to his mom to let him come out to play, and walk down to the neighbourhood wall or tree or playground, where you could sit, chat, horse around, or play cricket, or just fling stones, trying to out-throw each other. I miss the neighbourhoods where the doors were always open so that your neighbours could walk in anytime they wanted, to borrow stuff, or just gossip, or ask for help, or have chai, or watch TV together, or discuss the morning’s news or argue about things of national importance, and you tolerated each others’ quirks because you depended on your neighbours for so many things, from sugar to kerosene to sympathy to emergency help, because systems were broke, technology was basic, governments were poor, people were poorer, and books were valuable, and reading books gave far more bragging rights than owning them. Today’s irony is that we have become richer, faster, more powerful, more connected, have better technologies, medical facilities, more armies, weapons, fighter planes, warships, nationalism, cows, gods, religions, temples, churches, mosques, people, entertainment, buildings, vehicles, air conditioners … yet a virus has beaten us back into our caves. And now we’re craving real human interface more than ever. Neighbourhoods changed long ago. If we didn’t pop into our neighbour’s house uninvited before, now it’s impossible. And for all practical purposes, it looks like WhatsApp friends groups are the only neighbourhoods left where you can go and shout out your friend’s name, or nickname, like “kauwwe” or “haddi“, without feeling judged, or feeling embarrassed, if he called back using your nickname, like “chokkhe” or “pumpum“.