Today is an all-important day for me. In many ways, today will define several aspects of my life to come. A tryst with destiny, if you may. Even my ‘Astrospeak’ said so! (chuckle) But such buoyancy didn’t prepare me for the unpleasant incident that marred my perfect morning. Walking out of my apartment lobby towards my parked car, I noticed the otherwise affable security shouting at a set of two boys, chasing them away. Caught in the metal spiel, I barely noticed the kids approaching me. As I passed them the elder of the two turned and before I could react, puckered his face and spat, nearly missing my just-pressed trousers and landing the spittle on my bare forearm. Splotch! Laughing loudly they ran off inside the lobby. I continued walking and opening the car door reached for the seldom-used box of tissues. Wiping my hand I gave myself room to react. First it was shock, then surprise and then came rage. If I had the time I would have chased them inside and boxed his ear till he squealed for mercy. But the thought of battling rush hour traffic calmed me instantly.
We may have put men on the moon, we may have wired the entire earth and we even have put silicon in the female anatomy, quite like the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius, but if we have failed to teach our kids basic civility, we have failed miserably. I stay in a decent apartment block where the average annual salary of the residents might put a smaller African nation’s GDP to shame. Our block is filled with techies and management consultants, whom, at times I meet on my way out or in and these encounters never go beyond a courteous nod or a smile. The average age of the residents being mid 30s, not surprisingly our apartment is thronged with children of all ages. We even have an upscale crèche within our premises to aid the working parents. But with all this affluence aren’t we missing the basics?
Today’s kid may be an aberration. Most of the kids I know here, are my son’s friends and they appear to be well-behaved atleast on cursory glance. But I do hear from my son, stories of older kids bulling the younger ones and ‘gang’ rivalries etc. Left to their own device, by parents who work long hours, the kids grow up like bramble – unkempt and disregarded. Sporting the latest consumerist fad and spoilt to the hilt, little have they learnt of the values that were staple of our generation. We came back for a decade in Erlangen, Germany to come face to face with my grandfather’s simple principles of life and his austere living. Shedding the affluence we knew, we embraced his ideology and although the journey was difficult we yielded easily. But today’s kids, brought up on a diet of packaged food, instant gratification and disposable moral, where are they headed?
P.S. I have found the spitting kid’s flat number from the Security and intend to run the risk of having a conversation with his parents.