Sunday, February 26, 2012

The rough 'outside' or the cozy 'inside'?

The new apartment complexes that are coming up in Chennai have everything - Lush green gardens, fresh air, good amount of space, play areas, gymnasiums, beauty parlors, grocery stores, even car wash areas and in one particular complex, boating and horse riding facilities. Activities for which hitherto we needed to go to ten different places, are all grouped under one area, thereby making such places ideal growing up grounds. But the law of the world states that when you gain something, it is usually at the expense of something else.

The down side that I see to such a way of living is that our children would be brought up in cooped up areas and might not learn to be as street smart as our parents were (and to a lesser extent, as we grew up to be). For kilometers on either side of such complexes on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, there is nothing that would encourage a child to go out. Even schools reside inside our apartments. I thought only our parents and grand parents could say this statement, but even I can rightfully now tell my children when they grow up, 'I used to bicycle 10 kms everyday to school whereas you have the comfort of stepping out of your house and straight into your school.' I can't help but make a parallel between the lives our children are going to lead with those of animals that live in well maintained zoos - living with all the comforts in the world, but never venturing beyond their permitted circumference. I used to take in the sights around me when cycling to school - the street urchins, the traffic and the accidents, the roadside arguments, conversations with strangers while waiting at the bus stop (pre-cycle days) and so on. I learnt a lot from the roads. I learnt to be independent and gained confidence while facing the world outside. But now, with the definition of 'world' reducing to the 2 acres of land we live in, we would learn to be more 'apartment smart' rather than 'street smart.' Is that a good sign? 

But we have to face it. I.T jobs have forced us to move away from our old ways of life and we have to adjust accordingly. We need to ensure a our kids get a good experience of how life outside our apartments is. Morning walks with our children to the nearby villages, introducing them to the people there and their ways of life and earning all would give our chaps a good perspective of life. We could also identify some classes - be it music or sports or something on those lines - near to where we live (as opposed to having it inside our complex itself) and encourage them to cycle to these places (As long as it does not compromise on their safety). You might have some ideas too... please share so that all of us can read and learn!


  1. You really set me thinking, Mr Varun. Two aspects - 1) Take advantage of community life that Mantri provides,to inculcate in children social skills. In an earlier post referring to Mantri's music class I reckoned our music teacher, who is conscious of children's poise while singing, is better placed to teach children a few basics, such as leave their footwear outside the door in proper order,learn to knock the door/ring call bell, to greet teacher, other elders when they meet and take leave of them etc.
    My grandsons (in US) - 6 and 4 - have their friends home to sleep-over occasionally, and they also spend a night with family of their friends. Like-minded parents could give a try with their kids within the complex. At a later stage we could even explore the idea of overnight camps in summer within Mantri's by pitching camping tents on the front lawns or senior citizens area.
    2) The other aspect relates to organising a children's day out with inmates at an old-age home; and hosting a children's party in Mantri's inviting children from an orphanage.

  2. you are right... we can surely take advantage of the community life that the complexes offer. We also need to ensure that children dont think that this is the life that is prevalent everywhere else. Which is not the case. The line i wanted to mention in the blog itself, but did not, is that the controlled environment (by way of civic sense, amenities, cleanliness, and many more features) that is prevalent inside gated communities might not be what our kids would experience for the major part of their lives. When put in a situation where they have to live life 'ordinarily', they should not cringe or be unprepared or shocked. My motto is 'Prepare them for the worst, they will take care of the rest.' :)