The Streets Are Alive.

My childhood and boyhood was spent in two gated communities and two homes in cul de sacs where my siblings and I along with other neighbourhood friends could play all kinds of games particularly cricket.  My cousins in Chennai and Mumbai living in flats would be sent off either to the terraces to fly kites or to the streets below to play.  I simply cannot think any day other than when we were ill that we did not play on the streets outside our homes.

Today’s living is somewhat different with more high rise apartments in cities and towns and streets with high traffic density that allows little space for children to play in.  Newer gated community complexes with high rise buildings in them but with their own play areas, clubs etc are coming up, but where I live the older stand alone buildings predominate.

When I sit in the garden after my evening walks, many young parents and or grand parents who live in apartments in the locality come to the park with their  children.  From where I sit, I can view the main quadrangle which is a vast expanse of grass that abuts the children’s play area with swings, see saws, jungle gyms etc.  No sooner the children come into the park, they start laughing and screaming and  running on the grass in the quadrangle with the older parents and grand parents struggling to keep pace with them.  This is always a very endearing sight to see as I can understand the children’s desire to run the minute they see such a vast open expanse having spent time in small flats.

kids-running-in-parkWhen I was in Chennai last month, I was staying with my brother Arvind who lives in a gated community with its own playground facilities for the children plus a few attractions for the oldies too.

Mantri FountainOne of such attractions is this fountain, one of three in their complex, around which benches have been installed for residents to sit and watch the fountains play.  I can assure you that it is one of the most soothing things that one can experience and almost every evening I would go there with Arvind and Shanta and sit around making friends with other residents.  Arvind’s two grand sons Kedar and Sarang 6 and 4 would not sit with us but would be running around the fountain playing their own games along with other children from the complex, and I would expect them to slip and fall but they never did.  But the joy in their faces just running and yelling, being free was worth bringing them down from the flat.

All these memories were brought up to me by a post that Nick put up on Facebook about roads being closed to traffic in the UK to enable children to play.  Among all the miserable news that I get to read now a days, this was one that gladdened my heart as I am sure it must have a lot of others.  I hope that this post will gladden the heart of those who have not read it so far.

I hope that the movement will catch on and come over to our country as well.


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