mannerless kids and moms in hot pants

disclaimer: the title has nothing to do with digital playground, vivid, private media or any other purveyor of pornographic material. any resemblance to actual individuals is intended on purpose, with deliberate sarcasm and the usual ‘end-of-the-world-run-for-your-lives’ tone this blog has maintained over the years of ranting.

the girlfriend and i went for a free show of ‘the croods-3d’ yesterday at juhu. now juhu is one of the toniest suburbs in the city, or so it likes to believe. filled with rich people, it is teeming with the usual cavalcade of bmw, audi, jaguar and mercedes vehicles, cruising along in the insufferable traffic, sunroofs retracted, kids barely old enough to understand the function of clothes flailing their arms about in the wind.

it helps to start young.

shweta went ahead to get the tickets from the counter and i made my way into a queue. now, if you’ve been in the city long enough, you’d know that being in a queue is infinitely more frustrating than not being in one. the jostling, pushing, shoving, impatient fiddling and general discomfort reaches its peak when people are put in a position that demands the least bit of discipline – much like most affairs in the country.

so yes, there’s me in the queue trying to keep my cool with over-perfumed women chattering away behind me, and BAM! a couple of fat kids push past the line, jab me in the kidneys with their chubby elbows along the way and go right ahead. they manage to trample a few toes (they’re fat, remember, and ‘trample’ is a kind word in that reference), break the queue and enter the mall. while doing so, one of them even manages to give me a look of utter disdain, crushing my attempt at trying to stop him and the smaller tub of lard that trundled behind.

having digested that bit of defeat, i hung my head in shame and quietly took the escalator. the two horizontally challenged devils did not stop their march even there. they pushed past every available individual, broke through every barrier of flesh that stood in their way and reached the theatre lobby, huffing and puffing and blowyerhousedown style.

and because croods is a kiddie movie, i was immediately confronted with a screaming mass of tots in all sizes and attire. the lobby was pretty small, and for some strange reason, people had queued outside the theatre door in spite of there being enough place for everyone to stand. but then, you cannot get rid of the typical indian trait of ‘i-want-to-get-there-first’. you see it displayed in all its glory in flights, buses, trains…basically everywhere. a flight is the best place to spot an indian. as soon as the wheels of the aircraft touch the tarmac, his seat-belt will be the first to snap open, his cellphone will be first one to ring back to life, his baggage will be the first to tumble out of the overhead storage. and he, our proud indian, will be the very first one to stand in line to get out and breathe the shitpissfishbonesrottingcabbage fumes of bombay.

“oh it’s such a joy to be back home! i’m the first one to get off the plane. maybe they have a nubile model/starlet holding a bouquet and a hotel room key for me as i step out.”

back to the movie. there were about fifty million of those creatures (the little ones). now i don’t dislike kids at all. but i despise them when they have no manners, decency or respect for others. and for no fault of theirs, i feel like landing a few slaps across their faces, holding them by their arms and making them stand in line, quiet. i agree they’re all full of energy and need to play, run around, have fun while they can. but then, there absolutely has to be a sense of what to do where. you just cannot allow your kids to create a scene at a public place where other people could get annoyed, disturbed or inconvenienced. it has to be the parents and not the kids who need to understand discipline, and have the sense to enforce it as and when required.

which brings me to the second half of the title – the moms in hot pants.

it is a well-known and internalised belief in this city that the better well-off you are, the shorter your clothes are supposed to get, regardless of age or place. you need to show that you can afford to show off those toned legs. as one of the swish set, you need to look as young, or probably younger than your 16 year-old daughter and try to outdo her in the garish make-up department. the number of moms trying to look sexy outnumbered their daughters and sons. ugly cellulite bands and tummy tires notwithstanding.

more than the boys, it was the girls that disturbed me more. call me regressive or whatever, but i believe little girls have no business being dressed as adults. barely there shorts and dresses, awful make-up, grown-up mannerisms, awkward heels, breath-arresting tight tops…i mean, what’s going on here? have they stopped making those beautiful summer dresses for little girls? have they entirely cut down on the production of decent attire for kids?

children imitate their parents first and then their surroundings. and i was not the least surprised to find tiny shorts, tinier tops, bad make-up and general bad behaviour that day. if your parents are cutting corners, pushing and shoving their way through perfectly sane queues, dressing up as if they’re permanently marooned on a beach in miami and spending hours in front of the mirror preening, you as a kid are bound to be affected by that, and will see it as normal adult behaviour.

it got me thinking how difficult it is going to be for us to bring up our kids in this environment. as they grow up, they will see everyone around them acting differently, looking all dolled up and nice, and they will begin demanding the same. if that kid’s dad can drop him in a car everyday, why can’t mine? if her mom arranges her birthday party in a big club in south bombay, why can’t you? if he is celebrating his tenth birthday in an open-top bus, i want it too.

where do you draw the line? and how? and is it even possible to keep a sane mind and discipline your kids? i guess it all starts with us. i do not support relentless child beating, the kind that harms psyches and leaves children maladjusted, but a spank is sometimes necessary, and justified when a line is being crossed.

be it the way we dress, the way we talk to each other and our friends, the way our phone conversations go, the kind of movies we watch, the kind of music we listen to, the way we conduct ourselves in front of elders, the way we travel…everything, everything we do reflects in our children. and if i don’t want my kids to push and shove and dress cheap, i will have to ensure nothing i do gives them the idea that it is okay to do so.

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