Most Indian parents that I talk to nowadays have the same complaint “the z generation spends too much time on their play stations and IPads and do not value life outside the digital world”. Our conversations always begin with the ” when I was a kid” punch line but as the conversation drifts towards “Now” most find enough reasons to explain their lifestyle Stress, Work, Family, Age.I grew up in a small town. I did not own a motor cycle until I was in my 12th grade. I had to bike to school, the games I played were on the street, and on makeshift playgrounds. I was completely unaware of any technological innovations and did not care about anything save the evening game of cricket. Most people my age will be able to relate the above sentiment. Our lifestyle made us work for things. Today, Technology has made shopping easier, outdoor sports has given way to video games and smart phone apps. As we fell in line with the lifestyle, we have done everything in our power to make life comfortable for us and our family. Smartphones, Lazyboys have all added on to our level of comfort. While most of us have seen the hard life, our kids grow up with such luxuries. They will probably not understand how we survived without smartphones, Ipads or play stations. But surely they should be able to understand that there is life outside the digital world if we show them.
I am not advocating a dictatorial regime, and a ban on technology I just want the kids to get used to both sides of life. The smartphones, Ipads all are very successful in keeping us occupied for longer periods of time. The games on these gadgets have countless levels and keep you rooted to the spot. But we all do lose our interest once we hit a bottle neck or when we are done with the game. We get bored. I did not have any of the gadgets to play with as a kid and I do not remember saying that I am Bored. Never! I always seemed to do things that kept me interested and focused. I realized that I did have Hobbies. For many, hobbies are one among the many details you fill up while creating a page on the social network websites. The most common answers are ” listening to music”, “watching movies”, “playing cricket”. I cannot judge but I do believe that If you do any of these activities to keep you occupied for a short while then I hope you do understand that they are pastimes and not hobbies. Hobbies make you passionate about something and the passion drives you to the next step. Pushing yourself to do the next step is the most exhilarating feeling you can ever know and will sure inspire your kids at least. I picked up the art of stamp collecting from my aunt. She used to subscribe first day covers from the post, collect stamps from envelopes or letters that came to our home and to her office. We found ways to take stamps from the covers without tearing them off. [cut the portion out and soak them in water]. That’s how we built the collection. I still do remember her stare when I suggested that we buy stamps from the store to complete a collection on the stamp stock book. The early experience did teach me that Hobbies make you feel occupied, arouse your interest. With time, new friends came in, and new interests popped up and now the only two acts that have stuck is sports and reading. I took up Tennis after moving to Houston and quickly realized a couple of things.
First: Roger Federer is truly a genius, there is no way anyone can hit shots that kiss the lines all the time. Second: Tennis is a bloody tough sport that is physically and emotionally draining. My reading was mostly limited to science fiction and action thrillers with a few classics [abridged versions] thrown in once a while. A couple of interactions with real GEMS turned out to be an eye opener. Dickens, Dumas, Capote, Forster, Rand became voices I heard and felt. Sidney Sheldon became a nobody and Tolkien became GOD. The hours I spent surfing the net for nothing turned to hours I spent on the net trying to sharpen my skills in Tennis, and scourging different genres and authors and most important finding the next book. As my interest in these activities grew, I became more passionate about doing well in things. The passion you show will slowly draw in your family too, then sports, time outside the digital world will happen automatically. I started talking about the authors I loved to people and I was pleasantly surprised to find other people in my own office who had same interests. I never had any conversations with these folks before! The biggest surprise was that my family encouraged me. My wife helps me change racquet over grips, she watches tennis matches, and cheers me on as I play. My daughter now hits a smoking forehand back to me with her beach ball!Hobbies require time, money and above all your interest. With time I am pretty sure that your weekends and days will always give you more time for you to do things you love. Sports will no longer be a pastime and no longer a reason for your wife to shout at. Teach your kid a hobby and there you go you have given her a way of life! Now come on Diya let us work on that backhand!.