>The Great Divide


When we were growing up – my sister and I – we never had too much of anything. The toys were few and we didn’t need more because we had plenty of company to keep us busy. We almost never bought books and turned to the well-stocked school library to read all kinds of literature. We got new clothes on special occasions – festivals and birthdays. My sister usually studied from hand-me-down school books that she got from our cousin. My mother still remembers how we never insisted on buying anything, knowing well how much our parents could afford. When we went to the market, if we really liked something, we’d only ask Mom to find out the price. We knew if Mom could buy it, she would.

I saved up to buy my first Barbie. And I gave the money I got on festivals to Dad to deposit in the bank and he promised to put in the same amount from his side. So if I gave him two hundred rupees, he’d put in two hundred from his side. I felt rich when I had a thousand rupees in my bank account. For school fetes, we got ten rupees to splurge on ourselves. And sometimes, even twenty!

It wasn’t a difficult life at all. And people around us weren’t living too differently. There was just enough of everything – food, clothes, books. It was a comfortable life, but there were no luxuries for us. As children, we rarely missed what we didn’t have. It was occasionaly, when we visited friends and cousins who were visibly better off than us or received presents that we could not think of buying for our friends, that we thought of what was beyond our reach. But for the most part, we were thankful for what we had. And more thankful for what we achieved in the years to come as a family. Most importantly, we were happy and valued the little things in life.

So when I look at my nieces and nephews and a whole bunch of teenagers whom I deal with on a daily basis as part of my work, I’m surprised at how much they find to crib about in life. My 8-year-old nephew asks for an iPod on his birthday, gets it and still isn’t happy. My 14-year-old niece has a cell phone but because it isn’t a PDA, she doesn’t thinks it’s cool enough. And in a casual conversation, she asks me why the son of a really affluent family in town drives around in a car worth only Rs. 25 lakhs when they can afford a Merc?! And why does he have only one car? Pray, somebody answer her.

How much is going to be enough for these kids, I wonder. They don’t know what it feels like to want something and not have it, to struggle and achieve it. They don’t know the pleasure that a gift, however small, should give you. They don’t know what goes into earning a living. Who is going to tell them there still exists a world where people struggle everyday to survive? Who is going to teach them to be thankful for what they have?

I look at them and feel there’s more than a generation gap here. It’s the awning gap between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots’, the great divide that keeps the children of well-to-do Indian middle class families from looking at the world where a comfortable life is covetous. These are the children of a society that was working so hard to get all that these children could want, it forgot to tell them about being grateful for it. As parents, we might betrying to give our children what we never had, but in turn we’ve taken away from them the simple pleasures of life.


12 responses »

  1. >I’d say our generation had the times of life…fun in the sun kind of…and now its all together different…The generation, their dad’s salary n of course their technology…No one to blame!:(

  2. >well that’s globalization…the rich get richer and the poor, poorer. The difference between classes is more than ever…But this new age kids’ mentality really bothers me….no matter how much they have, its not enough…especially as there’s so much choice….I just hope parents do their bit by trying to instill appropriate values in kids so they know how to appreciate things and not take them for granted all the time

  3. >Good work.It is good to see the generation who grow up watching Doordarsan, are not delite watching even 200 channels nowdays.A very few of people love cherish there childhood days even they are not smart enough like kids(only smart childs are called Kids)but they happier in there month long holidyas…no need of doing any dancing ,swimming,puzzle-solving classes. There is no home work for hoildays,no summer camp.we used to go opur parent’ native.we love to eat pani poori n chaat once a week (and waiting a wohle week for that day).Nowdays even 1000 bugs Pizza party didnt please them at all.Our parents never bothers about out studies becaues they know we are not having much things to do except study,there is no video games.no too often cricket match no 3- 4 cartoon channels.I think i am going too far.it time to come back and thank you for ur wonderful picee of work.

  4. >Really a nice write up. When I go home in a AC compartment and see all the college kids alongwith me, I really think how will these kids know what is life. I mean when we were in college, we could never think of travelling in a AC compartment. The cost of living has increased. Now every house has a TV, Fridge, Washing Machine, Car….. But in these luxury people are making their kid’s life easy without thinking that when in future they will go out who will give them that luxury. Anyways its one’s personal call how he/she wants his/her kid to grow – with luxury or without luxury.

  5. >@Tomz: As I said, back then nobody had a very different childhood.@Sach: Yes, the fun we had, these kids would never know.@Chandni: Thaat’s what I see – parents just living in the hope that their kids will imbibe the values they’ve lived by.@Rohit: Those were the simple pleasures of life…@Richa: All parents want to give their children what they didn’t have in their childhood. The sad bit is that the children take their parents for granted.

  6. >I think that this generation of parents, in teaching their kids to be more ambitious, more successful, more driven to achieve the impossible, has forgotten to teach their children how to know when to be happy. However, it’s also worth remembering that adolescents and teenagers are rarely happy, regardless of their circumstances. Now I look back at my childhood with sometimes fond memories but my parents probably thought I was quite the spoiled brat little rebel kid! I’m sure your nephews and nieces will grow up to be great adults as well.

  7. >gosh…so true… i remember going to school with 5 rs as lunch money, and every monday i was given 20ps to spend buying sweets. and kids these days, hhmmm… but who is to blame really? we cant really poin the finger at one person, can we? with the changing world and economy, the needs and wants also increase, and sometimes we just got to go with the flow, to some degree. its probably up to the parents to keep a check in it.

  8. >@Elsuive Butterfly: I totally agree with the first bit about how we forget to teach children when to be happy. But then again, nobody taught us when to be happy. I was quite a brat myself when I was a kid, but that didn’t mean I didn’t know how to be thankful for what I had.@Mac: It’s definitely easy to go with the flow but it’s not necessarily the best thing to do.

  9. >But have nt we also asked for the cricket bats and the bikes and the monopolies and the carom boards and .. Probably the diff is that we were not living in a techno savvy world which these kids are . And we can blame ourselves only for that ..

  10. >God…this is eerily similar to my rant a couple of months ago, of course mine was more casual and not as articulate as yours. But this is what gets to me, the kids who are complaining have been raised by mothers who are friends, family (my sister in one case!) so what happens? for the moms have the same values as me…and the sulks are the same every where..in all my ‘homes’ across borders and oceans..kids who are JUST NOT HAPPY. Are we raising happy kids? Yes my childhood was border-line Oliver Twist (acc to a loudmouth cousin!) but Im sure I was happy.

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