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Penny for a poor thought

Thanks to gagets and luxuries, the 21st century kid is losing out on some of the vital

india Updated: Nov 03, 2006 14:29 IST

Just the other day my friend’s two-and-half-year-old daughter went to her expensive play school for the first time. I know because the doting daddy invited me over for dinner to celebrate the occasion.

But alas, last minute my friend called and said, “Sorry, dinner is off.” Why? Well, daddy’s delicate darling broke into a rash after using the school’s common loo. The affluent parents raised their daughter rather delicately.

Her clothes were sanitised after a machine wash and every time the kid used the bathroom, mommy dearest ensured that the commode was sanitised with dettol and covered with strips of tissue.

Hence, when the baby used the relatively clean school loo, she broke into a rash. The finicky upbringing had made her immune system feeble. It was literally a case of affluence making one weak.

I used to cycle down to my school everyday — six kilometres up and down that kept me relatively fit. But to day’s kids are dropped to school by their parents in air-conditioned cars.

No wonder I see so many obese kids, sweating like dogs the very moment they step into non-air-condi tioned environs.

The case is the same with women, who earlier performed household chores like sweeping, mopping and washing — all of which kept them physically fit. Now, affluent households have an entourage of domestic help and high-tech gadgets to do chores for them.

As a result, women now invest more time on a treadmill to burn calories. No wonder my grandma never suffered any weight issues as she squatted while mopping, flexed her limbs while washing and burned extra calories as she bustled around the house.

It reminds me of baby-boomers. At least all the births that I have heard of in the past year or so were C-Sections. The pregnant mother checks into an expensive clinic, fancier than star-rated hotels.

The gynae announces with a worried look — “the umbilical cord has entangled around the baby’s neck and we must operate immediately.” Pronto, the husband agrees and the baby is delivered through a Cesarean. C-Section means more money to the clinic.

Ever wondered why the umbilical cord rarely got entangled when we were born?

With a cellphone in every kid’s pocket, they need not memorise phone numbers. A press of a button and the number is dialled automatically. Think back a decade ago, when most of us had several seven digit numbers lodged in our memory.

We still take pride in the fact the West proclaims, “Indians are smart!” — when the truth is that kindergarten kids use calculators to do even the basic addition. All that is definitely going to slow down their powers of reasoning and memory.

Soon the affluent Indian would have to out-source work to some under-developed country where the growing mind is not hampered by calculators and spell-checking is not as easy as pressing a button on Microsoft Word.

First Published: Nov 03, 2006 14:29 IST