Technology has subsumed our daily lives today. Everyone is busy with their smartphones – whether they are at home, traveling or working. Smartphone has become an extension of our physical appearance – our personality. In the same home, one can witness that children are glued to devices while their parents are busy chatting on the phone or watching YouTube videos on their respective smartphones.
But there were those golden days in the ’70s and 80’s when co-operative housing societies had neighbors visiting each other. Whether it was home-made snacks or homemade ice cream (using Polson ice cream powder mix) neighbors believed in sharing and caring. Evening hours (4 pm to 7 pm) in the building reverberated with children playing cricket, hide-and-seek, marbles and an assortment of outdoor games. Winter evenings saw adults and children venturing out at nights to play a game of badminton. Card parties on weekends were not uncommon.
Once in a year - everyone in the building looked forward to the terrace party that was invariably planned during the Christmas weekends. Children would rehearse for the plays to be staged during the terrace party even before the commencement of the Christmas holidays. Sports events would be held ahead on Sunday – a week before the Christmas party. Winners of the sports events would be awarded prizes on the day of the party. The terrace party usually began at around 6 pm. But children would be up and about right from the morning itself. The terrace would be washed with several buckets of water, the stage erected at a strategic corner in the terrace and seating arrangements planned with care and caution. Chairs would be arranged from the flats on the third floor for senior citizens.
It was a great opportunity for all the residents of the building to bond with one another and build their social capital. Flat owners would willingly contribute money to purchase knick-knacks for the party. A stereo sound system would be arranged from one of the homes. Children would prepare the dinner themselves under the supervision of a few elders in the co-operative housing society. Dinner, however, was a simple affair but tasty, delicious and delectable. Vegetable pulao and cucumber-onion raitha along with fried papads were all that was offered. But the pulao was something to die for! Fruit-salads, soft drinks and ice creams were offered as desserts that children and adults enjoyed.
The Christmas party was also an opportunity for housewives to take a break from their cooking and other regular household chores and let their hair down. Some amount of gossip was of course inevitable!
The evening would start with a welcome speech by the master of ceremonies followed by a game of housie and then a game of musical chairs. Children would get a wonderful opportunity to display their histrionic abilities during the game of fancy dress competition – some would appear as beggars, enthrall the audience and send them into raptures with their realistic portrayals. Some others would dress up as Cinderella, sleeping beauty while some children would perform a mimicry inviting peals of laughter from the audience. A panel of judges would select the winner among all the participants.
Even when the party timings stretched till 12 -12.30 pm, no one would complain. The cool winter breeze had a soothing effect on one’s nerves.
Today – forget about terrace parties – no one even knows who stays in the neighborhood.
Is this the price that we pay for the technological invasion in our lives?