With the transition to what passes for spring in Japan, I find myself leaving the windows open nearly around the clock. Considering how close my apartment building is to my nearest neighbor, I get an earful of anything that is said or done. From hearing morning expectorations as if they were living in the same house as I to mail being snapped out of front door slots, no sound fails to come through with crystal clarity.
Some of my neighbors are about a thousand years old and have nothing better to do with their time than hang out in front of their house and be noisy so I'm treated to this sort of behavior on every day that it does not rain. Rain seems to keep the old folk frightened and they tend to remain indoors. However, if it's about a hundred degrees, they're all out puttering around the front of the house in great abundance.
Usually, I pay as little heed as possible to my neighbors comings and goings, though I can't help but be privy to the cacophony that comes along with all the banging they do for whatever reason at the front of their home. Lately though, I've noted that the women who live in the two houses next to mine are almost certainly gossiping like mad. I suspect this because usually they bombastically speak at maximum volume all the time, but there are times when their voices drop exceptionally low.
Today, I noticed that these magpies were on a virtual volume roller coaster. Magpie 1 approached Magpie 2's home and rather than ring the doorbell or knock, she boomed out "obaa-chan!" Magpie 2 came out and they yammered for awhile then dropped to a hush. A third woman came within range and they roared back up again. When the third woman left, the whispering returned. I wonder if poor old woman 3 was the topic of the Magpies' gossip since her departure initiated a dial-down.
Later on, after the Magpies had gone inside for what I'm sure was much needed rest from their morning of bantering and banging, I was sitting at a table working and enjoying the soothing hush when I heard someone creep up to the door of my neighbor on the other side. My kitchen window is right by his door and someone walked up to the window and stood on tiptoes and peered into my kitchen. This person was too short to see well over the bottom window sill, but I could see from him or her from the nose up rather clearly. In fact, had this person looked away from whatever it was that he or she was fixated on, I'd have made eye contact and probably freaked out the peeper.
In retrospect, I wish I had gotten up and walked over to the window and no doubt scared the living daylights out of that person, but I was too immersed in my huge pile of work. Ah well, there's always the next time someone invades my privacy.