Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An island of my own!


In our hectic, fast-paced, consumer-driven society, it's common to feel overwhelmed, isolated and alone. Many are re-discovering the healing and empowering role that community can bring to our lives. The sense of belonging we feel when we make the time to take an active role in our communities can give us a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. -- Robert Alan

The only way to make friends with time is to stay friends with people….
Community living is something I love. While growing up as kids, we used to live in apartment complexes, because our father worked in a place that gave him such accomodation. I had no complaints then.It gave me memories of a lifetime.
It taught me that it is:
Easy to make friends.
Families move in and out, so often, you get used to the packers and cartons much more easily than some others .
It taught me to smile even when I heard umpteen hammers banging through my wall. It meant, I would have new neighbours soon..
Dinners were special events during vacations...because we would get permission to go play after. And the fun in playing in the dark, was something we never thought was special then. Now when my kids wonder what to do, after they are exhausted with playing through the entire day, I remind them that they could go play later after dinner, and they oh! so love it.

We moved out , and into a colony culture. The emotional space around me was the same, except the houses were all horizontally aligned. We had more hiding places to look forward to. We got to become very skillful with street games. No matter how many vehicles ( those days, it was more of bicycles and scooters- the la vespa kinds) than 4 wheelers, so our 'lagori', I-spy, hopskotch, etc were all played around obstacles( stones, dirty roads, angry moms, watered down gutters during monsoons, and sometimes, those slithery crawlies called snakes too) Yes! we saw it all...We played games on the sit-outs, after dark, and sometimes had a dinner in a friends house, only because "R aunty's rasam was tastier than our dosas :(...
Life moved on, I got married, moved into my new family and also into a new environment. An independent house bang on the main road. I was in shock...I smiled at all and sundry, when I came out to put rangoli, but only got silent glares in return. I learnt to slowly behave like they wanted me to. No more running out to the next house , cos my rasam was very boring. I learnt to live through it, and learnt to make friends too...I didn't give up , you see..I made friends with the people who came to buy veggetables, the lady from the milk booth, I did it too... and it worked!
And then I wanted my kids to experience the same life I had, had...so we moved into apartments again.
I saw my sons thrive, they learnt to fight out their childhood arguments, withstood bullying, learnt to eat in a neighbours house, without feeling scared. and they actually loved it all
Now I have moved into my own house in an apartment complex. I was worried initially. I was used to a smaller community and this was huge. I had my apprehensions. Would I find my son, if he's hiding under a stairway, what if he gets stuck in the innumerable elevators. What if's became more than 'they can'. It worried me...I had those sleepless nights too...
Life slipped easily into a routine and before I realised it, there were nearly 200 and odd families who had moved in. We began to smile, bump into each others paths and doorways, much more easily. I found my kids easier than I had imagined...I just needed to holler out, and then someone would step out to help in the search..nowadays the search starts by itself...I have kids who give me a regular update about my sons whereabouts, and of course, i'm loving it.
The camarederie with which we all live together, the events we plan together, the laughter that resounds when one of us can't stop cackling, the gossip which returns , the rasam which still tatstes better in the neighbours house. I'm smiling through it all.
Today is ONAM a festival for Keralites. We have a very small number of malayalis in our complex, compared to the
hundreds of others. But when there are more heads that combine, it doesn't matter anymore. They got together to draw out their lovely pookolams, and of course invite us hungry souls for their yummy Sadhya....

I'm still smiling through it all. I know that life's not going to be boring anymore...it might be too packed and hectic, but it doesn't matter ...it helps me smile through all those stressed 'exam moments', bruised knees, frantic project sessions, endless cooking and tantrums galore. It helps me laugh it all away...it keeps me from "growing old inside"!!!!!

10 comments:

Sumana said...

The first line is so so true. I sometimes wonder how much of a help FB, orkut etc are. We also apprehend the same thoughts as we plan on moving to our apt complex sometime next year. But reading your posts gives me a lot of confidence.

Pavi!!!! said...

I grew up living in an individual home…and so that is what I have alwez liked. But you make living in aptments sound so much more fun .. seems like I’ve missed sumthing.

ceedy said...

Reading this post I realize I have moved up the ladder really in life - at least in terms of "home"


Interactive life is great...one learns a lot but it has its setbacks too....many people waste their talents...too

Suma said...

i've lived in apartments and bungalows and each hasits own charm,..we loved growing up in apartmenst for the community kind of living...my parents cannot imagine living in an apartment now, though we would be so much happier if they were in one...

lovely post, prats

Pri said...

beautiful post!
very true...life is not counted by years but by the sweet memories and blessings that you gather along the way.
keep smiling and hope u had a great onam :)

Guruprasad said...

i think for most people reading it must have reminded them of their childhood days in large government colonies or housing complexes... that communal life in those places were something altogether different! and now when i look back at it, i realise that it was actually a support system of sorts!

we now live in a large apartment complex and are able to experience something quite similar... and we're enjoying it! :)

Joy said...

Friends make up life...I would say living in individual homes and apartments have fun in their own way....

Prats said...

@sumana : Each has its pros and cons...
I always maintain that its upto us to make it good for ourselves!
All the best in your new environment!

@pavi : Dont think of it as 'missed something' I'm sure you've made your memories with the space you've been staying in too...its all about how you look at it!

@ceedy: Its a very subjective view about how one wastes talent :) Out here in a communal type of living, if there is an opportunity(and there are ample) one should just try to grab at it...if you don't , then its the issue with the individual...staying alone wouldn't help either...

@suma: I can so understand you..my inlaws were of the same mindset, but move they did, and now they are loving it. IN terms of security it has helped in easing out a lot of stressful issues.

@pr: You said it right , those memories and belssings make a huge impression on all of us..
yep Onam was a blast with all my mallu friends out here :)

Prats said...

@guruprasad: It was the very same memories that made me write this down, so I guess many will connect with this. When one thinks of it as a support system , we know they are going to like beign in that space...it must be fun now for your family being in a comlpex that will be fun for the kids

Prats said...

@joy: Yes J, it's all a very individualistic thought...and the whole process of making a life where one can be happy or content is a therapy in itself.