With the lack of space and highly inflated cost of land and property, people have been forced to make a choice, to live in flats, courtesy nucleus family setup. The gated community, intimidating in size and structure, makes one feel as an insignificant persona amidst the massive buildings’ (with pun) has about A-Z named flat of about minimum 80 flats in each block and the entire facilities one could ask for, like, pharmacy, grocery shops, supermarket, playground with all the game amenities, crèche, swimming pool.  To gain an entry into the gated community main entrance, the security is alerted and notified of the guests’ arrival beforehand with the name of the visitor, the type of vehicle etc., so that no one can make a casual entry unannounced. With all the facilities made available inside, for parents who go for work, the children are left in crèche or in care of live-in maids, visiting servants or old people staying with their son or daughter which is generally, less in number. It’s a complete modern, cosmopolitan set up with a good combination of south and north Indians, other migratory families who choose these type of flats, which are normally in the outskirts. So, that they are closer to their work place and don’t have to commute long distances.

The parents with their young ones meet at the play area with all the other parents and develop good friendship and bond. The older people while away their time sitting in shades exchanging pleasantries, day’s happenings, at the same time having an eye on their grandchildren. Health conscious young and old go for jogging, walk around the sprawling ground buzzing with hectic activities. But the need of the hour is, that the parents should be careful, not to send their children alone without a chaperone, never to accept sweet treats from strangers, bigger the community living, more strangers will be in transit and moving around apart from the security, cleaners, cooks and other support staff who are normally outsourced.  It’s the parents’ responsibility to see that their children are safe from ill-intentioned strangers who are just waiting to take advantage of a lone child.

Values, traditions, culture, which largely depend on the individual family and household, what are we imparting to the children when they live in such environment, where there are umpteen numbers of classes going on like, cricket, tennis, basketball, karate, bhajans, classical music etc., Parents compulsorily, endlessly leave their children, after school, in some class or other, so that, their unspent energy is channelized.  All community festivals and big family functions are invariably celebrated in the function hall with all facilities, to accommodate and conduct on a large scale.  The children look forward to all these mega celebrations as a fun fare, as they get to meet all their friends apart from play time and house visits.

The question is, do the children learn to respect elders, basic values of life, appreciate relationships more than the spirit of competition, as children tend to fight with each other as a vent for suppressed anger, frustration, despite their parents having a watchful eye on them.  From such community living, one shocking information told, by a boy about seven years of age, that he gets to see, his parents for one hour in the morning before school and one hour at night before he goes to bed. Thought provokingly, for a community feeling at large, this type of living is a BOON whereas, when the values are compromised in such living, it’s a BANE of course, as everything has its own advantages and disadvantages!!

-Vijayashree Ramesh                                                                                        

The writer of this article is an advocate based at Chennai.