Indian urbania is amid a transition from Hum Saath Saath Hain to Modern Family. At one end you have a couple and their four children form a little sanskari village under one roof. At the other end, three close-knit related American families live in separate houses in the same suburb. The familial arrangement depicted in the latter was inconceivable in India even two decades ago, while the former depicts what is still majorly the norm. However, nowhere do we notice the shift more prominently than in the case of Indian millennials and Gen-Z’ers. For better or worse, many have opted to move out of their parents’ home and live independently in the same city. How are things shaping up for them? Let’s find out.
For Pune-based Abha Pandit, a freelance writer who moved out in April this year, it became the best of both worlds — though the transition wasn’t seamless. “I’ve had to learn how to manage all aspects of a home, which has been difficult. I did end up frustrated and called up my mom a lot, especially in the first couple of months. I still don’t think I’ve managed to ace this living alone stuff, but I do enjoy it. Sometimes I work from my parents’ house during the week, when I feel lonely working by myself all day. But mostly, I go over on the weekends to spend time with them.”
The writer definitely misses home’s creature comforts, but she sees an improvement in her relationship with her parents. “More than feeling like I’ve to manage everything alone since I’ve moved out, I feel like I have two homes now,” she concludes.
Puneet K. Paliwal, a Delhi-based photographer, has lived some kilometres away for his parents’ home for nearly a decade now. For him, the idea was as much about independence as it was about individuality. “From childhood you notice that your parents have one kind of identity, then later you realise that you want to build a different kind of life. I didn’t want to live in a setting that followed religion and puja, for instance.” So, Puneet could build his own world, where everything from
his choice of food to the décor, has a distinct flavour. And he has found this empowering.
However, the arrangement is not always a bed of roses. Mumbai-based digital content creator Bharat Misra may have turned 25, but parents’ home is where his heart is. “My parents stay two hours away from my workplace, and my job requires me to be available at erratic hours. It’s just convenient to stay
closer to the office. As a result, I am always a little guilty about staying in the same city as my parents but not spending enough time at home.” In fact, the guilt is so strong for Bharat, who is clearly a family-oriented person, that he believes, “people who live in a different city from their folks are better off without this constant guilt.”
Guntasha Sangla, a special educator at a school, examines this trend and says, “It depends entirely on the reasons for moving out. If there is a genuine reason — the workplace being far away, or if you are financially and emotionally independent and need that space for your functionality — then it is great, but otherwise youngsters seem to have this false sense of space. They are highly influenced by Western culture. Indian culture is more collectivistic. There’s nothing wrong in individuality, but you shouldn’t lose the essence of family and culture.” On a concluding note, she says, “Sure, live away from your parents, but make sure you are not doing it for the sake of it.”