It is a fact that the days before technology came into the picture, things were quite simpler in every sphere of life. Indeed, there are countless articles, blog posts, and notes written by people on social media talking about the same. In the race towards development, human interactions and social dynamics have also undergone a significant change.
Like the neighbours who would know everything about you and the relatives who visited you and even the minute quirks of those they shared a common wall with. For in those days, a casual walk over to the adjacent apartment or house for a cup of sugar or jamun for setting of the curd would end up in a good 15-minute or half-hour chat about the goings on in each other’s life, even with tea making an appearance sometimes. But those days are done with, only to be seen in certain colonies and residential neighbourhoods.
Connect and disconnect
“I think the mode of interaction between neighbours has changed. A lot of couples are working now, so understandably it doesn’t leave much time for anything else, they may want to get done with their errands and then start dinner, so naturally that has changed. That mohalla feeling where you knew everyone on the street is gone now,” opines Deepa Kumar who lives in a gated apartment complex in Moosapet. There are some 1,000 apartments in the complex, but barring a few occupants on her floor and a few other flats in her block, she hardly knows anyone else in the complex.
“Generally, we end up meeting other residents in the community events held in the common area near one of the blocks. Beyond names and where they are working, the talk is very general and people don’t talk much about their personal lives,” adds Deepa. While it would be a tall statement to say this is the case everywhere, there are colonies which have managed to retain that neighbourly dynamics among its residents. R. Varsha who has been living in a quiet colony in West Marredpally for 14 years says living in one place for a long time also has something to do with it. “My husband and I have been staying here since we got married. I know when my son goes for cycling, there are people who will look out for him if he falls down. The same sabjiwala and flower seller keeps coming here so that informal relation remains.
Also, we meet other colony residents at the temple, library nearby and the weekly vegetable markets. Often people end up having chats for hours on the portico of the library,” says Varsha who shares one particular instance reflecting the growing disconnect and impersonal nature creeping into social dynamics.
“My friend stays in a highrise building complex in the Hitech City area. Her daughter usually ends up playing downstairs in the common area. One day, she fell and unfortunately none of her friends were around to help her. She just kept lying there, nobody came and tried to help. Finally, she got up and came home crying. It was a small thing but it did get us thinking. Unlike independent houses, people move away from apartments quite frequently so that personal touch is missing,” adds Varsha.
Changing living conditions
For retired couple, Ramesh Goud and his wife, having another family staying in their two-storey building is a boon. “Setting up the TV cable, wifi and other technological-related works are taken care of by our neighbours. If not for them, we would have been taken for a ride by the operators,” says Ramesh Goud. But families like theirs are few now, where the relationship has developed over the years through efforts at both ends.
The neighbourly spirit also has a lot to do with the residents showing an inclination to develop a friendly relationship. Families with children may end up meeting in the park or play area of the building, the same goes for senior and retired citizens who often meet on their walks.
“Children play a big role in such interactions, if they play or study together, the parents will come to know each other and may meet again in birthday parties or the women may meet in kitty parties.
It may develop into a long-term association if both parties put in that kind of effort,” says Pratima Ponuguru, a homemaker who lives in the gated community in Indu Fortune Fields in Kukatpally.
In her complex which comprises some 650 flats, the residents have a WhatsApp group over which everyday queries to maintenance-related issues are addressed on a daily basis. The only time residents spend some significant amount of time with each other is during the festivals when the community halls come alive with the festive spirit. “We do have the occasional meeting to discuss building-related matters, but otherwise all other interactions happen over WhatsApp or email. Any kind of query, be it regarding finding a new maid or some doctor nearby is also posted in the group and everyone pitches in with their suggestions, technology has changed that interaction which would have been a personal one otherwise,” opines Pratima.