My Autobiography – Living in Flats

Berlin, Kreuzberg, Koepenicker Strasse 10A, Mietshaus und Gewerbehof, Spreeseite

Image: Beek100. Published under this creative commons license.

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 πŸ™‚

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? πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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?

Destination Infinity

PS: What do you prefer? Living in flats or living in independent houses?

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17 Replies to “My Autobiography – Living in Flats”

    1. But I guess we enjoy childhood even if we haven’t lived in flats. At least that’s what people have told me.

      Destination Infinity

  1. ‘even the stone on the non-strikers end would have gone!’ I have seen this with my sons! When we were in Hosur, we lived in a flat. The colony had 4 playgrounds. Everyday, at 6 pm I was touring the grounds looking for my younger son, to ask him to come home! If I didn’t go, he used to come home at 7 or 8 pm! Home work?! I agree with you that young children should spend their life in flats. My children had a big group of friends.

    We, along with the sons, played Trade and carrom and cards!
    Yes, we knew so many people there. I don’t have any friends here, because this is an independent house and the sons have grown up!

    Now, for because of age, we are thinking of shifting to a flat, so that we will have company!

    Very good post, D.I. What you say is right. No children come out of their house here in our area. We have Ram’s flat behind us. I don’t hear children’s sound even there. Many of the mothers think that if children go out and play, quarrels will start. ‘yedukku vambu?!’

    1. The flats/apartments of today have cement flooring on the ground and there is almost no place to play. Even people in my old flat have extended it to the level where there is now no place for parking, forget space for kids playing!

      What’s the point of having a large house with so much sq.feel if there is no space in the front to play and if there is no garden at the back? We had both in abundance.

      Destination Infinity

  2. I had all the experience of you but living in an individual house with neighborhood friends around.

    You are 100% right on the flats and I’m sure it must be greater fun than living at individual house… now we are living in a flat for last 6 years, I could understand the joy easily while seeing the kids playing as group in evening. But it was not as same as early before and the scenes have changed a lot and not many kids come out these days… but if they gather it’s a terror attack!

    1. When I think back, the sheer number of activities that we got ourselves involved into back then, amazes me. And I don’t even remember many of them!

      Destination Infinity

  3. I lived in both flats and individual houses – and it was both fun! I guess, it must have been because it was in colony. So we had loads of people to play with in both cases.

    Even now, although we don’t get to see knee high vegetation in in cities in India, daughter still plays with her friends in the play area(we live in flats), and she has a thoroughly wonderful time. Although I have to say, I have seen some little kids, who prefer sitting in the park and playing on their parents iphones or ipads – that just beats me. How can that be more fun than playing with friends? It just saddens me to see that.

    When we were abroad, daughter had the kind of fun that you describe – playing in the woods, chasing squirrels and butterflies, coming back dirty from the sodden paths through the wood – what fun! I wish we had that sort of avenues here, but it’s more a concrete jungle, the place we live now.

    1. I think we need to transform concrete jungles with more parks and play-areas for kids with some green cover. Bangalore seems to have done a relatively good job on this front, but other cities need to catch up.

      Destination Infinity

  4. Flats! Any day! πŸ™‚ Much better from a security perspective, maintenance is easier and of course the social aspect. Maybe one can later move on to an independent house if required.

    The best part about living in flats was the social aspect. Everyone knew everyone else, well at least the ones who had kids.
    Yes. Parents end up bonding over kids. But then the social aspect also depends on the nature of the people and the place. The earlier apartments we lived had people who hardly mingled so we barely even knew our neighbours. We have recently shifted to a newer place and people are generally friendlier so we are also enjoying taking the effort to meet new people.

  5. I think flats make more sense when the kids are small. My dad was an engineer so we stayed in colonies most of the time -a less refined version of flats so instant access to friends was there and that made it fun.

  6. oh i have so many good old memories while i stayed in different flats for almost a decade now..!

    those days were fun .. 1 incident i remember while i was sharing a flat with my room mates before my marriage, right opposite to our flat was the gym .. and how we used to wake up every morning at 6 to watch girls exercising in the gym πŸ˜›

    those were the wonder years of our lives…!

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