June 03, 2006

Romance of Block J

This is the romance of Block J. And it is not running at a theatre near you.
And it is not limited to 165 minutes and there are no tickets to charge.
The romance of Block J has been on for some time.
I began to appreciate it recently and thought I should share it with you.
Block J is like Block A and B and Y and Zee. They all look alike in this Adyar neighbourhood.
And they are full of people.I
n some apartments, there are extended families. In some, nuclear families. And in some others, young men and women who work on the other side of the main road which is called the IT corridor.
Our story has been taking place on the second floor of Block J.
There are three apartments here, all of the same size. In one, an aged couple. In another, three young men from different corners of the country who have come together because of the jobs they keep in an IT company. In the third, is a young family, a couple with a charming three-year-old.
These three actors have been living on the second floor for over a year now and though their doors are shut most of the time, they seem to have entwined their lives in an informal manner.
The senior couple volunteer to pay the power and water bills of the other two busy neighbours.
The young men can be banked upon on a Sunday to run an errand for the senior woman when she has run out of curd or needs a syrup for her nasty cough. And when the young mother next door has to do the dishes and mop the apartment, she leaves the child with the sunny elders next door.
Here are neighbours who have included a senior couple in their lives.
This then is the romance that warmed me up during a week when I came across a flurry of adverts in the newspapers, advertising 'homes' for senior citizens in Chennai.
The times they are a-changing in Chennai.
Those who can afford deposits of four lakh rupees and monthly bills of eight thousand in campuses that boast of swimming pools, sports arenas and community dining halls, are making early bookings before the prices go up.
The others are settling for less pricey 'homes'.
The rest simply do not know where to go and remain prisoners in their apartments.
It will not be long before colonies for senior people spring up in the suburbs of Chennai. Or perhaps, when enterprising entrepreneurs begin to promote them in the heart of our neighbourhoods instead of developing plots off the road to Mahabalipuram.
And yet, the romance of Block J can be amongst us.
Only if we begin to include our elders in our lives.

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