It was early summer morning as I dragged my sleepy body to the first of the Green Belt parks, as they are collectively termed. My every atom was struggling to keep my consciousness awake.
The park was full of people and activity.
I looked for kids. They were not in sight.
“Haha! haha! haha!
A group of oldies was doing their morning dose of Hasya Yoga or Laughter Yoga, as it is often related to.
I remembered my MBBS third year when some Yoga teacher conducted the sessions in the evening. In the end, he would introduce this laughter yoga.
Surbhi and kids were not in this park. I found when I reached the other end.
Next one now!
This park was in sector 48 C. The next is in 48A. Together these form an almost continuous stretch of green area in these sectors of Chandigarh. Hence termed as Green Belt.
My body was out of slumber now. I walked faster.
I found them near the gym in the second park.
There were two gyms in that park.
One was an open-air gym with machines laid out for exercise. This gym is a peculiarity in Chandigarh parks and almost every other park would have one. Apart from gym slides, see-saws, swings and other stuff for kids as well as adults.
The other gym was virtual and is related to a game called Pokemon GO. A very popular game where the player walks in open and catches creatures called Pokemons. There are two places for Pokemon lovers – PokeStops and Pokegyms.
They get game-related stuff and battling chances at these places.
Somehow, Pokestops and PokeGyms are more in urban areas and almost absent in rural areas.
Daksh and Manya just love Pokemon Go.
And they are really excited when they visit Nani House in Chandigarh. They want more time for the game so they could make up for they face due to the crunch of PokeStops and PokeGyms in our area.
They are often joined by Swarit – their cousin, son of Surbhi’s sister. He is even crazier about the game.
They were in their own gym. After finishing gym chores, they would come to a real gym for playful activities.
Surbhi was sitting on a bench, little peeved.
“I am not going to bring them from tomorrow. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is coming and advising the harms of mobile”. She blurted.
“Its ok. Let’s walk.’
We were on to our second round when a person came to kids and told them “Bas karo beta! Ab kuchh harkat bhi kar lo. Aapko maloom nahin aap kya galat aadat paal rahe ho.”
The children looked at me. I signaled them to continue.
“He is the most vocal one”, said Surbhi.
” Just look at that girl! Tablet se chipki hui hai”
” Sir! the bigger screen is actually easier on the eyes”, I intervened.
“But Sir! This is a very dangerous habit. It’s not good for their health, concentration and personality, the way they are addicted”.
Chandigarh is full of senior citizens. So you are never short of advice. But some people need to be stopped.
“These kids work out enough. And they are not addicted. They are just here to do what they like most. Let them do”
He was miffed. He walked two steps, came back and shot.
“You are acting irresponsibly”
This man did not know how to mind his own business.
“Do you want to know the real reason why we allow them?” I said with a twinkle in my eyes.
“Look at the eldest child. Last year he won a prize of 1.5 Lac rupees because of he was in final hundreds of the challenge”.
He was alert and attentive.
“This time all of them are trying to be in the first 20 and the prize money would be 3 Lacs. We are even planning a tour to Australia”.
Surbhi started off to her second-round silently.
The man was flabbergasted. His cowalkers came and asked him to join.
” 2 minutes. Abhi aaya” He hastily said, shooing them away.
When others were out of reach, he asked in a whisper-
“What is the name of the game and how can one earn?” He said eagerly.
“Give me your phone. I can download it for you.”
“Actually I do not have a smartphone, and I do not know also how to operate one.”
“Then get one. It’s easy. Even kids know how to operate” I smiled
“I have a grandson. I will ask him to play on his Papa’s phone. Then we could progress from there.” The excitement in his tone was palpable.
“I will mail you. Please tell me your email id.”
He gave me his email id.
He thanked me profusely and said goodbye. Then he turned to the kids and said
“Sorry! I misunderstood. All the best. You are good kids. God bless you”.
The kids waved back, with a look that spoke of confusion.
I mailed him the next day.
Dear Mr. Pushkar,
I hope you remember our little chat from the park.
The name of the game is Pokemon Go. It can be easily downloaded on your Apple or Android phone from the respective stores.
Your son or grandson would know about the store and how to download the game.
It’s easy to play the game. You walk distances to catch the virtual creatures called Pokemons. More you walk, better you are at the game as you encounter more Pokemons and are rewarded more.
The place where you saw the kids sitting was about two kilometers from our house from where they started walking. After you went they walked more and logged a total of 7 kilometers that day.
That is quite a rare feat for the kids who are always bogged down by school-schedules and homework.
I am not a big fan of the game. But my kids are and they take our permission before playing, which is in fact a kind of mutual understanding. But because the kids like it, it’s my duty that no one should make them feel guilty about the choice they have made.
At least, they are not sitting and watching television.
And Sir, there is no reward of any amount. I mentioned reward because logic was not working with you.
You were hellbent on disrupting kids’ happy vacation while you were throwing I-know-all seniority at them.
I apologize for that small lie. I never imagined that would make you desperate and your attitude would take a U-turn.
I do appreciate your concern about the harms of the screen and the wrong kind of games. But Sir, you need not go to one extreme to protect your child from another.
Somewhere in the middle, lies optimum, which is our duty to find, tweak and apply.
Your supervision and your involvement in their games go a long way in protecting and shielding them.
Absolute denial and deprivation is not the way. You cannot suppress the child to submission. You need to work out logically in the best interest of the child.
I forgot to ask your grandson’s name. I wish him well and you too.
Arun Pal Singh
P.S – See you in the same park after a few months.
The reply never came.
Not that I am looking for it.