Kavi Pan Balan and his friends: Dr. Radhakrishnapuram

In a lane deep inside the streets of Thideer Nagar, three teens were playing street cricket in front of their house. Walls are painted in vibrant blue and almost zero space between the houses were similar to the tangled congested cable wires hanging from the top. 

Gully cricket added extra fun to the mundane life of the school-goers. The rules were simpler yet funloaded. The boundaries were so close, the walls in the on side and off side would be considered as boundaries. 

In the urban areas, the shrinking of playgrounds evidently proves a higher rate of constructional businesses, affecting the proper development of a balanced surroundings. When it comes to illegal plots such as this slum area, it is better to rely on those narrow lanes to meet the purpose of playing outdoor games, said Kavi as they have managed to create their ‘homeground’ in the streets only.

Kavi was busy drawing the stumps on a wall with a piece of brick where his other friend brought the bat from his home. Another one was trying to create the crease with a white chalk. After setting up the stumps, they were all set for the match.

The 15-year-old smiled and said that he has never had any life-threatening problems in Thideer Nagar.  

Kavi Pan Balan is currently studying in Class 10 in Mount Fort Matriculation School. His father works in Dubai as a driver. Kavi lives with his two sisters, one of who is a lawyer and the other is pursuing her undergraduate in Chemistry, and his mother. 

“Being the only male of the family, I have to do a lot of work. But it isn’t tough because everything from water to vegetables is available,” he said. 

His friends, Madhavan(14) and Ganesh(16), go to the  same school as him. They said that had amazing childhood and lives have never been as tough as people think. 

Kavi’s father visits Chennai once every two years. Kavi wishes to move out of Thideer- Chennai if possible- once he begins earning. 

“People here mostly dependent on the water-vans as the Corporation does not provide Metro-waters here. Few deep tube-wells serve the various purposes of the locality and the water comes once in  two days,” Balan described the water situation in the locality.

“In 2015- the night before the flood, the government announced to evacuate the area and almost 5000 resdients took shelter at Greenways railway station and Mandapam. Plenty of houses were affected due to the calamity,” he described the overnight change of their lives.