People who haven’t lived in flats/apartments miss a lot. I was lucky to have stayed in flats from my 3rd standard to 10th standard. Individual houses are fine later on but when we are young, living in flats with so many kids around to play with, is the best option! We sure had a lot of fun.
I was very lucky because our flats came with four blocks and three large open grounds. Two of them were full of vegetation and one was flat – perfect to play. The best thing about living in flats is the company – Kids around the same age quickly group together and start creating ruckus.
We have played so many outdoor and indoor games. Of course, cricket was our favorite game but at times, we needed to play other games in order to distract elders from the issue of frequently broken window glasses. Once we break a glass, within the next five seconds there will be no trace of anyone having played on the ground. All of us would run away to safety and even the stone on the non-strikers end would have gone!
Our favorite indoor game was Trade/Business. Of course, we also liked chess and carrom. We played a game called ‘Risk’ where we used to have a world map and all the countries were divided amongst us, we would place armies strategically in each country and attack other countries by rolling dies. That was just one game, to say!
The best part about living in flats was the social aspect. Everyone knew everyone else, well at least the ones who had kids. That was because mothers/fathers had to come out and search for kids in all their friends houses!
If someone in one of our friends house bought a VCR and video cassette for rent, we would somehow get the news and all kids would assemble at that house to watch a movie! I remember watching so many movies like that. During the Navarathri Golu, people display dolls on a steps-like arrangement. We kids would visit every house that had this display because we got sundal and sweets. Yeah, we were pretty shameless back then
Another aspect is neighbors, with whom we were extra close. Once I drew the picture of my mother and showed it to her only to get a lukewarm response about my drawing. I immediately went to my neighbor aunty and the following conversation ensued,
“Whose photograph is this?”
“Oh, this is not a photo. I have drawn and painted the picture of my mother”
“Oooooooooh, it looks just like a photo…… so realistic!! Tell me the truth – Is it a photo or painting?”
“Nooooo…. it’s a painting done by me!!”
I mean, which kid wouldn’t like a compliment like that?
Once, I was roaming around the flats and I saw one ‘Anna’ in the balcony of a house. He was deeply studying from some fat book. I was so impressed and I asked him what he was studying for. He said, he was preparing for IIT EXAMS. I was immediately inspired – I went home and kept a large book I had access to (dictionary) and pretended to study with deep concentration. Ok, I went back to playing shortly, but it was an inspiration that would stay on for a long time! No, I did not study in IIT. I am sure you knew it
These days, all I see is kids playing some nonsense games in small pathways in over-extended flats or on tarred roads in small streets. And that’s the better-off scenario, as many of them don’t even come out. They are drenched in Cartoons and Video games!
Kids, today you may have access to all the latest gadgets that money can buy anywhere in the world, but we were routinely playing cricket on large grounds and catching butterflies over thick knee-height vegetation. Have you even seen vegetation in cities and butterflies outside TV?
PS: What do you prefer? Living in flats or living in independent houses?