Then - I had the freedom to play without being dampened by my school routines. Since we lived in houses (apartments were not there), the play area is the street in which we lived. And all the kids in the street joined together in evening, to play the same game everyday. I can even remember, that we've played the same run and catch for so many days. Then it was the seven pillars - that craze went on for so many days. Then it was the turn of Hopscotch, Kho Kho, Hide and Seek. What I want to tell is that we were not BORED of playing, as long as we played everyday.
Now - My girls are growing up in the apartment culture, where people from different parts of India live together. Its such a great thing as we get to know about various cultures. Even though there are enough children here to have 10 cricket teams, the surprising part is that these kids have formed groups among themselves - based upon whether their frequencies matching up. Huh ! And, I am more shocked by this line, - Ma, its boring - almost everyday. These children can't play the same game even for 2 times in a row. That's considered boring. So, in a two-hour playtime, how many games can they play without getting bored ? Their interest span, for anything, is very low.
Then - During play time, its only play, play, play. Of course, we also did our chit chat sessions, during break times. But never did any one of us brought the tape recorder or a radio out to play. First, it was so expensive to possess one, in those days. Second, the parents banned the kid to take any of the stuff out to play. And we were all more interested in playing together that we didn't even think about taking the gadgets to the road.
Now - Any kid that comes to play, is attached to an ipod, mp3 player or at least a mobile phone, through the earphone jack. How can these children run and play, with a music player singing with them ? What is the need for such display of gadgets, while playing ?
Then - I have learnt carnatic music - it is a must for all kids in the traditional South Indian families. Me and my sister used to go this class together. And, in my class, we were taught the basic lessons through hearsay. No notes, to begin with. So, whatever the teacher teaches us today, we've to recite it by-heart in the next class. We learnt every lesson with such focus and concentration, that after 30 years, I am still able to recite them from memory.
Now - I also sent my girls to the music class - as is the tradition. Unfortunately for me, my eldest daughter decided that singing is not for her, at a very early age. And nothing I did, could make her go to the music class. The younger one has a good voice and started singing very well. When we shifted to our new home, the classes stopped just like that. Now, she just can't remember the basic music lessons which she learned just 4 years back. Where is the focus of these children gone ? The filmi songs stay in mind, as the girls listens to it everyday - thanks to MTV, V or the various music players.
Then - There was no concept of maids in my home. So, me and my sister were allotted house hold chores from the beginning and it became an inherent part of my life. Before leaving home for school, I'll have to sweep or mop the house and my sister will do other one. And we've to wash our clothes by ourselves, dry them in the terrace, before leaving to school. My mother will help us only in washing our uniforms. Sorry, no electronic help too in our house, then.
Now - I have a maid to clean the house and a washing machine to wash clothes. But, simple tasks like drying the clothes, putting the clothes in the laundry basket, setting the table for lunch / dinner and then cleaning the table, have to be given as instructions everyday. Today's children are lost in their own world, that all these things are taken for granted - ma will do it attitude.
Then - The world was a better place, then, for my parents to leave me unattended while playing on the streets. Me and my sister used to walk to school, everyday and later on took up the responsibilities of taking my brother and cousins. Even though we stayed quite near to the Marina beach, it'll take us about 30 mins to reach the beach. And we used to enjoy the walk so much that those were the quality family times, I remember very well. I started travelling by the bus, at an age of 15. Going to places on my own, was very exciting for me and it was easy for my parents to take that decision - as the world was much better to live in.
Now - My children are so used to travelling in the bike / car / auto, that the thought of a short distance of walk would wear them down. And the idea of allowing my girls to go on their own is scary to me, first. The world is in such a state now, that the girls better be escorted.
Now, I feel, that I've complained quite a lot about the NOW kids. But, that's not the intention and should not be taken like that. Its just facts told in the times of my childhood and that of my girls. Actually, today's kids are more smarter, have more exposure to various things (both good and bad - which makes our job more difficult) and can decide better for themselves.
So, just like our children, we parents are in the process of learning as everyday goes by. I just remember this at the junction to end my blog - By the time a man understands that his father had been RIGHT all the time (that happens when he becomes a father), there is his son who thinks that his father knows NOTHING. I think this is the life cycle.
Edited to add :
The way my thoughts are spinning in my head after I published the post, I think there'll be a Then and Now - Part II, very soon.