Growing up in the eighties and the nineties meant watching the world change at its fastest. We were whisked from a lazy, calm, slightly meandering time and plopped right into the middle of a whirl of activity. Especially so, after the discovery of the internet, mobile phones and the social network. At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur, I know that my children will not recognize the milieu of my childhood with their own. Now, it feels as if the whole world is constantly buzzing with an information overload, things to do, opportunities popping up every corner, new careers to delve into, and new methods of entertainment! Whew! Where and how do you even relax? There is always something to do or somewhere to go.
Exciting though things are at present, there are times when I miss the old world vibe of my growing up years. With most of my friends and cousins living far away or being busy, I rarely get the opportunity to get into the “those were the days “ mould, and therefore unload the charms of my lesser privileged but more fun kind of childhood on to my son, who looks confused and surprised at a few of the things which I mention! (And when he does that, I feel really really old!).
I know that the world will keep changing and there is no way to stop it. I have lived through many of those changes, in my childhood and teens and adapted. But sometimes I wonder how life would have been if some of the things had remained the same. So that I could experience it again through my children. There were things which made my childhood exciting, and fulfilling and those that probably only children of that decade would understand.
Like owning a tape recorder and buying/borrowing coveted audio casettes.
I was part owner of a really old, origin unknown, sony tape recorder, which was schizophrenic by nature. It would play scratched tapes to perfection, but unspool brand new tapes for no reason at all. It was almost alive, and I swear, I was top one on its hate list. My tapes, no problem. But borrowed tapes from cousin, friend or new… definite unspool, which would require me to sit for ages with a nataraj pencil and rewind the tape carefully back into the cassette. Despite these problems, the pleasure of listening to Alka Yagnik in Qayamat se qayamat tak, Lata mangeshkar croon Dil deewana and ABBA on the old contraption was something I’ll never forget.
The pleasure of meeting up with cousins over summer holidays.
I know facebook has made things really great, and I am aware and update about my friends’ lives with the click of a button and all that, but somewhere, not knowing so much, added to the excitement of holidays where all cousins and friends would meet up. There was enough talk to last us through two months and beyond. No need of television, trips or eat outs. We could devour time only talking. Over the breakfast table, on the steps, over the garden fence, during play and under the covers at night! I don’t remember talking so much ever!
Waiting for a trip to Bangalore
Mainly to fulfill all longings to last till the next visit. In my case, books from good old Higginbothams and Gangarams on M.G Road. Vegetable sizzlers from Sanman. Ice cream from Corner House or Lake View. A visit to Kids Kemp, more for their free welcome drink than to actually buy anything ( most stuff seemed exorbitant anyway!). Meeting up with my favorite cousin and exchanging books. Visiting her circulating library. Every single time, a repetition of the same, but still excited about the trip. Because there was no amazon or home delivery to send all this and more to my doorstep. And the only face book we had was a face of a friend and a book.
The lack of choice.
I’m serious. I recently read somewhere that the brain goes into over drive and chooses wrong when given a multitude of choices. Apparently, the brain is always trying to give you the best choice, but unfortunately, there is no one choice that fulfils all your demands or wishes. There is a great post on a blog, Peas and cougars regarding the same. Hence, life was bliss before ‘too much’ came along. Orange kissan marmalade was exotic, when we had only kissan mixed fruit jam. Maruti was hep, when the rest were cranky ambassadors. Till the third option came, the interest held on between the first two! Shift to now, with big bazaars and hyper marts, nothing is either exciting or exotic after the first time. There is always a craving for something new and something more, which never seems to quell.
Brands that are obsolete now.
Lekhak notebooks, hero pens, bril ink, bata school bags,plastic rain coats with colourful hoods,dayanara tvs with doordarshan playing on all channels, halo shampoo, angry fire arrows of mahabharat and HMV casettes.
I recently discovered an old box of letters which my parents and friends had written to me when I first went to hostel. It was nice to read actual personal, hand written letters after a long time of reading short text messages. I do not know whether they still teach letter writing in primary schools. It sure was an important part of our curriculum… leave letters, letter to your friend about your holiday, write to your granny about your school.. etc.etc..This was something I really loved because I could write whatever I wanted, there was no intense preparation required and one could get full marks for this in the exams! Learning how to make money orders, telegrams, or registered post were important skills in our childhood, the acquisition of which would make us feel a little bit superior to the rest!
The happiness of owning a cycle.
This was one prized possession all of us craved for. The sight of a brand new BSA SLR which at that time cost my parents eight hundred bucks seemed more luxurious than any Mercedes Benz. Learning the art of cycling was done on loaned bicycles so that I would not scratch the paint when I fell off it!
Most of the things described here almost just vanished or faded away in the last decade. Life now is easier, and much more comfortable, but just the thought of these, make me nostalgic. What things of your childhood make you wish for a time machine?