Rooftop: A breathing space for locked down residents

The deadly coronavirus sure has humans in its control, but it has not been able to tame their spirits. Boxed up inside their homes for over a month now, people have found ways to connect with their neighbours and community at large from the good old rooftops.

For children, the rooftop has turned out to be their playground, for parents it is a hangout zone, teenagers a cozy spot for long phone calls, and a new selfie zone for one and all.

The same goes for standalone houses with rooftops, where families had been bonding over a cuppa or taking their pets for a walk, since the imposition of the lockdown.

People, who are otherwise busy round the year, are also seen taking to their terraces to water their plants and take pictures of sunsets.

“A majority of the residents of our building are working from home. After office work, we gather on the roof — we have quite a spacious roof — and chat for an hour or so,” said Sandip Chowdhury, who lives in an apartment block in north Kolkata’s Phoolbagan area.

Chairs, brought from the office room of the flat owners’ association to the roof, are arranged maintaining safe distance, said Chowdhury, who is also the secretary of the association.

The chairs are sanitised from time to time and everybody wears masks during chats, he said.

“We have four-five children in our building. They play badminton in the afternoon,” Chowdhury added.

The situation is slightly different at another high- rise in South Kolkata’s Dhakuria area.

“No, we do not have any pre-arranged chat sessions on our rooftop. But we meet others during morning or evening walks,” said Raka Ghosh who lives in the Dhakuria apartment.

Ghosh said she has met neighbours she didn’t know existed. “My husband happens to be an introvert. The lockdown has forced him to venture out to the rooftop. My husband has even found himself a new hobby. He has taken to time-lapse photography from the terrace,” she said.

A college student, a resident of Salt Lake in the eastern part of the metropolis, looks for opportunity every day to sneak away to the terrace to call his girlfriend.

“Actually the roof serves two purposes. First, I can talk to her without being disturbed. Secondly, I can get some fresh air,” said the youth who did not want to be named.

Families owning individual houses are also seen frequenting rooftops.

“My mother goes to the roof more than once every day to tend to the plants. These days, I accompany her. I think I have discovered my love for gardening,” said Ritika Dutta, a Class 9 student in Baguiati, on the eastern fringes of the city.

For pet parents, too, rooftop is a relief.

“My dog insists on going out, but I can’t help it. I am lucky that I own a house with a terrace. It is really difficult for those who live in an apartment blocks where flat owners may not be allowed to take their pets out on the rooftop for a stroll,” said Abhijit Sengupta, a resident of Lake Town.

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