When I was a kid, we were the first family to move into the street of a new suburb. Other houses sprung up around us. So, by the time the street filled up, we knew all the families. It is a reassuring thing. When any festival happened, every family would send out a plate of special goodies to the others in the streets. We did not party together. But I guess we were a community. And a good one at that.
As a college kid, when I came home late -- and in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, night falls early, it would not be so scary to walk down a badly lit street, because you had the sense you could run into any home for help. Subsequently, the suburb has changed. Small houses have been replaced by highrises. The roads are more well-lit. But I have not gone back since I left it, because I fear I may not feel as safe as I did when I was a kid.
Here is what the famous biologist Elizabeth Blackburn says about how neighbourhoods can affect us.
"Communities where people do not trust one another, and where they fear violence, are damaging to *telomere heath. But neighbourhoods that feel safe and look beautiful -- with leafy trees and green parks -- are related to longer telomeres, no matter what the income and education level of their residents."
(*Telomeres are ends of chromosomes. They begin to shrink, aging the rest of us and our bodies, from inside)
More exciting thoughts on how your neighbourhood can accelerate your aging:
* Being stuck in a neghbourhood from which you want to move but cannot afford to
*Living in spaces where the crime rate is high
* Unsafe neighbourhoods
* Neighbourhoods without social cohesion
* Without green spaces