Monday, September 30, 2013

Around and Behind

We live in a gated community.

There are nine buildings for faculty each housing a random number of apartments that range from one to three bedrooms. There is also a building for students, another that serves as the faculty club, which unfortunately is open for dinner by appointment only, a deserted hospital which has been turned into student dorms, random desolate villas, and a school.

the "hospital"

The faculty buildings surround a satellite dish yard, playground and a laundry drying area. On a good day, all the lines are full of neighbors' clothes and one would be lucky to find a spot for theirs. Line-drying is the norm here; I am not sure what they do in the winter days.

The playground is outdated. There are no baby swings, no age-appropriate climbing structures, and absolutely no shade. There is one lone tree shading one lone bench and that's about it for shade. Its functionality in the hot summer days is a major concern for me right now. It is in dire need of maintenance; the paint is peeling and some of the equipment has grown rusty. Some mothers even mentioned seeing cat litter being dug out by their kids.

There is also one trash can that stands as decoration; there is more garbage strewn along the parameters of the playground than inside the bin.
Although there is only one trash can at the playground, there is an abundance of them in the parameters. They stand open to the elements, and the cats. There probably are as many stray cats as there are babies in the "annex" and they love to play in the trash. Needless to say they are well-fed! JR keeps asking to pet them, and of course we keep saying "no."

The open trash cans also cater to the bees and the flies that constantly fly over the neighborhood. They fly through windows and doors and roam around freely. Once they realize they are trapped in the stairway, though, they meet their death. In the early evening hours, the stairwells become fly graveyards, and every morning they get swept away by the cleaning crew.
The playground is not only rundown, it is also underutilized. The preferred mode of children entertainment, I have noticed, is wheeled toys. It seems that everyone has a moving object to ride as soon as they are able. There are bikes, trike, and scooters galore. Roller blades are catching on. And for those non-walkers there is always the stroller. Those riding toys buzz around on the street, in between cars and around the block unmonitored and uninhibited.
JR still does not have a riding toy and some days she is the only one at the playground, either on the swings or in the sand.

The sand here is another story. While the sand in the US is nice and smooth and clean, here it is anything but that. Rough, red and dirty come to mind when I think of the times JR has had her hands, and feet, and hair, in it. It stains the clothes, goes under her nails and colors in brown everything around it.

Most children over the age of five are seen either alone or accompanied by older siblings on premises. Mothers are a rare sighting unless they have children JR's age and younger, and even then you are more likely to see those kids with their nannies than their parents. When spotted, mothers mainly supervise the children's activities rather than engage with them; I have not yet seen a mother "playing". Fathers are even a more rare sight, and yet in some families it is them and not the mothers who are seen with the children.

A communal grill and a couple of picnic tables stand not too far from the playground. It is not, however, a gas grill. It is charcoal. But before you decide you want to throw your food on there one afternoon, take a closer look. I am not sure when it was used last, or if it will ever be used again, but one thing I am certain of is that Jeff and I stand firm behind avoiding communal grills; if it is not in our backyard it is as good as non-existent.

This is where we spend most of our days. Thanks for coming along. Next, we will take you shopping.

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