No Kidding! Technology has ‘stolen’ children’s playground

Khali Pada Hai Mere Pados Ka Maidan, Ek Mobile Bachon Ki Gend Chura Le Gaya (My neighborhood playground bears a deserted look, one mobile phone stole the ball from children) – Gulzar

It’s been almost two weeks that the above lines with a picture of renowned writer, lyricist, director and at heart, a poet Gulzar is doing rounds on various social networking sites. Despite so many likes, equal number of shares and countless comments, how many of us really sat back and pondered upon it? How many of us really bothered to understand the gravity of the problem that is highlighted through these lines.

Today on one end where we come out on the streets for the support of protecting open spaces but children at home are a worried lot with lack of space on their mobile. Huge acres of playground are today confined to 32GB, 64GB of storage to accommodate more and more play stations or app based games. We just want to confine everything into our palm.

I remember those days when we as school kids used to return home together, most of us residing in the same colony or at the most a colony or two adjacent to each other. On our way back home we used to plan for the evening sport to be played on huge playground which always offered us multiple options to decide upon. If it was cricket we would already decide who would get the bat and who will bring the stumps and a rupee each was collected as contribution for a rubber or tennis ball. If it was football, an hour long discussion would go on who would be the goalkeeper today, based on the last match poor performance the goalkeeper was chosen.

Despite the ground being huge, chosen few from our colony used to always go almost an hour before to occupy or rather reserve the best portion of the ground (less of stones and more of grass) till the others arrived. We fought with the other colony boys over the piece of playground, like the Emperors fought to expand their kingdom. Often these verbal duels lead to playing a challenge match just to prove a point whose team is superior. At the end of the match, whether we had lost or won was immaterial. We had certainly made new friends.

Just last week I took a walk down the memory lane by visiting my colony. Same buildings, same spots to hide during the game of hide and seek. So much so that the rock responsible for my almost fatal knee injury while cycling was very much there. What was missing was our laughter, our screams and our loud calls to each other to announce playtime. Not a single kid playing.

Playground is now converted into a Joggers Park. People walking briskly from all directions, not knowing where they are heading and towards what. I stood still amidst the unexpected, hoping someone would come running towards me with that stolen ball and say…LET’S PLAY!

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