Streetsmart – and how?!

Posted: April 12, 2009 in Uncategorized

The other day on way to office, I was at a traffic signal on the way. It was a little earlier than my usual time, and hence it was closer to start of school time, for a nearby school.

At the signal, I noticed 3 school kids, well dressed, carrying a small satchel each (must be exam time, so not the full bag), and from middle-class families, by the look of it. As distinct from very poor families, please note. They must have been in class IV or V.

As vehicles stopped at the light, they made their quick observations and ran separately towards specific cars / bikes that their eyes zeroed in on. To basically ask for a “lift” to their school. I saw them look at me and my car, and chose to not bother me. They knew their lower hanging fruit, in terms of who would agree to give them a lift. Perhaps empty cars with just the chauffeurs. Or whatever other means they used to filter the set of vehicles at the signal.

They were verycomfortable zipping around in the middle of the traffic (of course, traffic that was at a halt). It appeared like they were very familiar with the drill, and this might have been a daily routine then, I suspect.

They had not got a lift by the time the signal turned green and I moved on. But the incident stayed in my mind.

I contrasted this to my kids. Who still (in class XI and IX) have most times, a car drop them. Or who otherwise, would take an autorickshaw or a cab or a bus. But who largely traveled in a lot more comfort. Kids who were not allowed to cross the road on their own, till they were much older, and who we would keep reminding, to watch for the cars on the road, even after they started going on their own.

Compared to those kids who I saw on the road that day, our kids seem almost pampered. Maybe that is not the right word. Maybe it is a question of circumstances and all that.

I do not say that our kids should have also been left loose or asked to hitchhike their way to school.

But what I AM saying is how different the preparation for the world, those kids are getting. They would be “streetsmart” in the real sense of the word. They zip around on the road without fear, they do not hesitate to ask complete strangers to give them a lift, they would reach school on time with all those challenges. Perhaps they get a bus allowance, but by hitchhiking, they save that money, to use it for something else?!

They probably live quite close to where we stay, but in all other ways, it’s a different world that they live in! Our kids probably get better education and facilities, and may be “ahead” in that respect, but our kids will need time to catch up with those kids I saw on the street, in terms of street-smartness!

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