Tanima lives with her small daughter in a gated community in Kolkata. She is a working single mother and suffers from the stress of raising a child and performing in her office job. She absolutely loves the security of her complex as she leaves her daughter in the hands of a babysitter, and cannot ever imagine living in a single building.
Mr. and Mrs. Chatterjee, her neighbours, are senior citizens. Their only son lives in Bangalore and he works in a software company there. They would have been completely lonely but for the presence of Tanima’s daughter next door. They play with her and keep an eye on her when Tanima isn’t in her apartment. In fact, Tanima can go out easily now while the Chatterjees take care of her daughter. The Chatterjees too look forward to spending time with Tanima’s daughter.
Raj is a 27-year-old fun-loving young man living alone in the same complex. In spite of being a banker, he has a great passion for singing. For him, the community functions give him the opportunity to sing before an appreciative audience. In fact, Raj enthusiastically participates in all the celebrations there.
On a Sunday afternoon, Raj often sits down beside the natural pond within the complex and hums a song. Soon, there gathers a crowd of fellow residents and the sounds of songs and laughter are heard till late in the evening.
Getting the best of gated community living needs some easy adjustments if you have never lived in a residential complex.
But once you are habituated you cannot live in a standalone building again.
If you have already lived in a flat in a single building, living in a large community needs some mindset change. You need to adjust to living in a large extended family.
Life in a gated community is much more cosmopolitan and much more co-operative.
Most gated communities are built over sprawling land these days with various amenities and extensive open space.
You can, and you must incorporate elements of lifestyle in the ways you live.
Let us see how that can happen.
If you are living in a traditional Kolkata locality, usually congested and cacophonous since morning, you can rarely take a morning (or evening) walk in tranquillity.
Not only you can take a walk in a residential complex but even take a jog or just sit down on a bench and hear the birds chirping and soak the morning stillness.
And of course, you can relax in the swimming pool after a hard day at work.
But what you will most enjoy is celebrating festivals together. There is no better pleasure than participating in community Durga Puja or celebrating Holi together.
Your mindset will slowly change if you live in a gated community. Living in a spacious complex with many neighbours is far different from living in an individual building with a limited number of neighbours.
Amenities — Share and Enjoy
All gated communities come with a plethora of amenities and you can take advantage of them.
Finally, you can start taking care of your health. Start working out in the gym, forgetting about joining the gym that you were forever postponing.
You can now spend an evening playing snooker rather than sitting on your couch in front of the idiot box.
And of course, you can organise your family function in the community hall.
No need to search for venues for your son’s or daughter’s birthday celebration.
And it’s especially safer for children while they play in the children’s play area inside the complex rather than outside.
The benefit of community living is that you can enjoy all the amenities with other community members.
For example, one of the biggest benefits of staying in a residential complex is the stress-free acceptance of guests even when they come in large numbers. In our modern apartments, space is at a premium. Accommodating guests is often a problem.
Nowadays most gated communities have some guest rooms which can be used by guests.
No single building can offer these benefits.
Take advantage of the amenities. They not only offer you convenience or better health but regular interaction with your neighbours also improves your social life.
Living in a traditional locality, or para as it is called in Bengali, had its advantages. It still has some advantages in some areas of Kolkata.
It offers a particular lifestyle that has survived the test of time.
But in our fast-changing world, social norms are changing fast.
Families are becoming smaller, and nuclear.
Often there are only a couple and their only child.
Old parents live in Kolkata while their only son or daughter is living more than thousand miles away.
Even single parents like Tanima need secure homes.
Traditional localities cannot properly serve the needs of such families.
Their need for security, togetherness, exclusivity, a greener environment, and privacy.
Gated, walled communities have a reliable support system for their residents.
If you think about it, it is a huge advantage.
Help Others, Join the Extended Family
The biggest benefit of staying in a gated community is the absence of overwhelming urban loneliness and resultant mental agony.
This is particularly true of senior citizens, and children.
Residents’ clubs, indoor games rooms, adda zones, and landscaped lawns with sitting arrangements in gated communities provide ample opportunities for social interactions.
To get the best out of community living, consider the neighbours as part of an extended family.
An attitude of helping others will help you become part of this family and be appreciated.
Every residential complex celebrates festivals together with all members today.
Whether it’s Rabindra Jayanti, Doljatra, or Durga Puja.
On every occasion, residents come together and celebrate the festival.
For example, some sing, and some present a dance ensemble together on Rabindra Jayanti.
To get the best out of joint celebrations, come forward and participate.
Forget about any inhibition and sing that song you always hummed alone at your home.
Or recite a Tagore poem.
Never isolate yourself.
Gated communities are congregations of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicity, profession, and culture.
You must enjoy the diversity and appreciate it.
Celebrate Diwali as much as Durga Puja. Or Holi as much as Doljatra.
Gated communities are fast becoming microcosms of sorts, melting pots of diversity.
Engross yourself and get the best of community living.