Family: The Karimbils, Powai
Pavan Karimbil, a partner in a PR firm, and his wife Anita, who works for an airline, were caught off guard when their nine-year-old daughter Moksha sashayed into the room belting out the popular I’m too sexy for you, main tere haath na aani… line from the chartbusrer Sheila ki Jawani.
“We didn’t know how to react,” says Pavan. “To Moksha, it may be just another song, but using these four-letter words in front of our parents, even at 14, would have been a no-no!” he adds, describing the constant tussle to monitor what his daughter is getting exposed to.
Since both parents work demanding jobs, they get to see their daughter only for a couple of hours at night. This makes it difficult for them to control what she’s doing or watching, which surfaces in sometimes discomfiting demands. “She’s all of nine, but wants to buy high heels,” says Pavan. “That’s probably due to shows like Hannah Montana, but I don’t like the idea of it because I’ve read that at that age heels are bad for her posture. I try to explain that, but there’s only so much I can do.”
Moksha also has her own make-up set to use when she goes out, which makes her parents uncomfortable.
According to Pavan, Hannah Montana also borders on inappropriateness because of the lifestyle the rockstar protagonist projects — with relationships, flashy gadgets and even an introduction to sex. Moksha’s also at the age where she wants things her way — for instance, the family tries to spend all their time together on weekends, but must do what she has to. “We went to watch Chalo Dilli a few weeks ago. But when we got to the theatre Moksha was taken by the bright Luv Ka The End posters and forced us to watch that film instead. She gets swayed easily by advertisements.”
The Karambils believe in being participative in the process of their daughter growing. “The more you try to control your child’s exposure to things, ideas or channels, the harder it is to know what’s going on in their lives,” says Pavan. “If you create an open enough culture, they’re more likely to tell you about their obsessions.”
One major step that the Karambils have taken to curb Moksha’s consumerism is to not own a TV. “We shifted homes six months ago, and haven’t got a TV since,” says Pavan. “While my wife and I are at work, Moksha spends the day at her grandparents’ watching TV in any case. When the TV is on, she forgets everything — to eat, study and even basic courtesy when a guest comes over.” This, he says, has caused a marked change in her routine — Moksha now sleeps on time, reads more books and spends more time with her parents.
In her spare time, Moksha has also found an addiction to SMS on the cellphone her grandfather gifted her and her parents grudgingly allowed. “She’s demanded that when she passes Class 6, I get her a BlackBerry so that she can chat with her friends.”