Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Childhoods wanted!

The other day, when I saw a new building complex being built in Kalanagar, it made me think about the 'changing nature of childhoods'. The cleverly advertised billboard said "Childhoods available". It showed a picture of children playing on green grass and building mud castles. It shouted, "Do your stories start with, 'remember the last time we were at the mall'?". Made me think.

Childhoods and the very definition of the word 'childhood' have changed beyond doubt over the past few years. My cousin has had a mobile phone from the age of ten. She practically grew up playing games on the computer. Last week, my four-year old niece was gifted an i-Pad by her dad to 'learn to write alphabets and learn to identify colours'. Just for fun, I call it i-Pati (i-Slate).

I don’t remember being dependent on any kind of gadget when I grew up (except may be the television). But still, I had a great and fun-filled childhood, so did my peers! There were no mobiles to text friends to meet-up, no Whats app on smartphones, no Facebook to hang out on, yet we would meet at a given point of time at a given place. Being lost and getting lost was fun those days. But with so much advanced technology at our disposal, it is virtually impossible to 'get lost'.

When I see city kids around me, I find their childhoods to be too techy and boring. May be they perceive mine to be boring. But open spaces and picking fruits from trees, seem to be unheard off. Playing 'bhatukli' with a chulha made of bricks and wood seems distant. Waiting for a particular cartoon to be aired on the TV, well, a test of patience! Our grandparents would come at the end of our annual exams and chug us to Mumbai in a train or a semi-luxury bus. We would wait with bated breath for this annual fare! Going to grandparents' place for a two month vacation now seems like a long bygone era.

What has happened to our childhoods? Do we want such a future for our kids? Lot of thinking for your grey cells!