Last year when winter swept the streets of Melbourne and I was washing the dishes by the kitchen window, a sudden movement disturbed my peripheral vision’s tranquillity. It caused me a minor heart attack, which ended in another sad case of plate suicide.

There was someone at my window.

A minute later, my slow-to-react brain cells figured that the man wasn’t actually at my window but rather sitting in his own apartment in a different building altogether. It was just that up until that day my kitchen view was dominated by a huge green tree with thick, thriving green leaves and parrots and a nice, handwritten title saying - “life in the country is fab.” Problem is, I’m not living in the country and with the winter stripping my tree buck-naked – I realised again one of urban living true horrors – neighbours at my window.  

They are two meters away, they are weird looking people and they can watch every move you make. Here are a few of ours.

Like in Friends, everybody has their own ‘ugly naked guy’. We had two. Again kitchen window – this time in Tel Aviv. My Russian bear (Igal) was nonchalantly cooking a stir-fry when he spotted a hairy bum gazing back at him. Appetite lost, I was called to the window to spot the hairy creature myself. I put on my I’m-just-checking-the-weather look and took a glimpse at his other full fur side. After a minute or two, another prime ape joined and in a naked harmony they made dinner.

From that day on, I needn’t have to sneak a peek to experience the wilderness right at my window. Whenever I walked into the kitchen there they were - two naked dudes bending over to clear the dishwasher, squatting to pick a tomato off the floor, shaking their bum bums to the beat.

We were invited to our friends’ place one weekend for a Sunday brunch and a movie. Little did we know that we were the leading actors in this feature film. Our audience, consisted of three elderly neighbours, sat in their front row seats on their balcony across from our friends’ living-room window (only 2m away!). They had their refreshments ready and were super excited as they watched us perform.  

“Oh my god,” I called Bear on the phone to let him know that “I have a weird Asian guy stalking me from the next-door building”. Our apartment is all windows on both sides, but living in the unusual third floor (it’s Melbourne after all, third floor is considered to be a skyscraper in the suburbs) always gave me the illusion that I am free to do as I please without being watched.

“Nobody is following you,” Bear reassured. I thought otherwise. The dude was glued to the window, not moving at all. I felt trapped in a glass cage. Whichever way I went (living room, bedroom, there’s not much else) he was there glued straight to the window. Who does such a thing? He didn’t budge so I had to squat and crawl so he wouldn’t see me. So was the case the next day, and the next.

Until one day I hid behind a curtain, and I watched HIM. A-ha! Stupid me, by looking closely I realised he wasn’t glued to the window at all; he just had his computer screen fixed right underneath the window and so had to sit right there. Probably was chatting with his friends saying there’s a weird looking chick watching him from behind a drape… 

In the city a good positioned window equals power. Intelligence. And who better to collect information and spread it around than my dear mum. I’m sooo happy I don’t have her or her deputy Mrs. Window-box as my window neighbour; bending over the window barrier, wearing her flowery nightgown, watching the passers by, listening to the voices coming out of the windows and every now and again calling out to someone she knows.

And I failed to mention the coughing dude, the piano man and the moaning slut. All were my window neighbours. So, who were yours? 

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Illustration by Igal Hodirker

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