Off late, I have been thinking of the good old days of my life where there used to be these abundance of joy in the little things of life and today when I sit back and think, it pains to see that my son is not going to enjoy any of these joys as they never exist anymore in my country, may be there are still some traces of these in the remote villages of India, but in cites these are dead long back ....
I think kids born in the 70's are the most luckiest is what I think, because this is the generation which has seen life before the technology storm took us by surprise. These are some of the great times which happened in our lives before we all grew up and started to chase money.
School days ...
I used to take this old 'Jolna Bag' to my school where the only way to carry that is to put its long handle over the head, and that too on certain days where we will have 'practicals' we should carry our record books and that will put more stress on our heads when we carry.
Drawing my own time period table was the most pleasing one for me, I take an A4 and I carefully draw borders and then put check boxes for all the 8 periods and give my designer touch for 'loo breaks' and 'lunch breaks', there used to be requests by my fellow mates to draw such neat period charts for them as well and I feel as if I am 'Ravi varma' at that time
While I used to walk back to home from school, there was never a single route, I literally roam all the streets and come home, while walking I used to see my pet 'kannu kutty' (baby cow) which used to be tied in a lamp post at that time, some days I keep some balance of my lunch so that I can feed him, I fill water in my water bottle to give him after I fed him, his face is still so fresh in my memory.
With the 25 paise I have in my pocket, I used to feel super rich. My mom worked in the same school as mine as a teacher, some days she used to give me 1 rupee, and that's it, I will have the feel of buying everything in this whole world. I will literally put budget on how to spend that. I love those kuchi ice which is 10 paise, so I reserve 20 paise to eat 2, then there would be this "pepsi-cola" that was a craze during my school days, that was 15 paise per stick, and whenever I am rich, like if I have 1 rupees and more, I can afford for a 'milk ice stick'. I hardly cared about bad water, bacteria and all, it was just pure enjoyment
Hour cycle - This was one of the brilliant business idea of my times. You can rent a bike for 1 hour and you pay 1 rupee, so whichever relative comes to my home, I (without letting dad know) ask them to give me 1 rupee so that I can rent a bicycle, and I also would request the cycle wala to not tell this to my dad, and he was a typical gujju fellow, so to hide the truth, I have to pay him 1.25 per hour. The moment I start riding the cycle, I feel as if I have wings, there was not this crazy traffic in Mylapore during those days, so it was fun to ride my bicycle.
I was not a super dooper student in my academics so when ever they distribute 'answer sheets' those days would be the most chilling days of my life, I will surely get beatings from my dad for not scoring well, so once I thought I can fool my dad, so I added a '0' next to 8 (out of 100) and showed my dad, and this little brain did not even think that my dad will count the marks. Many terms I have been the dad for my self, where I used to sign on behalf of my dad in my progress cards, and one day my dad came to know all of my malpractices and that day was 'bloodshed' in my home. :)
Sunday afternoon (if we are lucky) National channel will play a tamil movie and then followed by another movie in the evening, that sunday would be the best in the life, 2 movies in a day and the entire family would prep for that, mom will make all the cooking ready by noon, any prep for snacks is also done before the movie starts and from 1:30 to 8:30, the family would sit in one room and watch those movies. No fiddling of FB or phones for obvious reasons.
They used to sell 'trump charts' in Mylapore where you have to buy them for 5 paise, 10 paise, 20 paise etc, and you have to select a movie star icon in that chart, if you were lucky you will get a return gift, like a whistle or top or chocolate or NOTHING, so that was the biggest gambling I have ever played and that was super fun. Sometimes you also get money, you may win 5 rupees if all the GOD's in this world were smiling at you, and I never managed to win once, but one of my friend won that and his win was my win, with that childish innocence, I celebrated that win with him.
Power cuts .... oh, how I wish there could be power cuts all the day. If the power goes in the night, its celebration time in my street, without any means of communication, all my friends would come out when the power goes off, the entire street will be outside and all the adults will be chit-chatting and we young boys will play hide and seek and there is no better time to play that sport other than a power-cut. We all will be like - ohhhhhhhhh when the power comes back and with sad faces we all go back to our homes. There used to be so much of social bonding happening during that time.
Conductor Whistle - I was head over heels on this metallic brass conductor whistle, I bugged my dad so badly to get me one and I still remember he got me one from Parrys Corner for 7 rupees, a shiny metal whistle and to date I have that in my locket as a remembrance. With this monthly salary of 700 or 800, that should be a good amount for him to shell out.
Big Fun - Oh, I don't think there was no such brilliance next to 'Big Fun' chewing gum. That company should have a master marketing manager who made the sales of 'Big Fun' chewing gum a crazy success. I still remember it was priced at 30 paise to start with and what is the beauty of that? Yes, they had this wrapper on which this gum was folded and that wrapper would have a print of a famous cricketer (batsmen or bowler) and if it is a batsmen you may either get 0 run to 6 runs printed and if it is a bowler, you will get 1 wicket printed and the company said, we have to collect 300 runs and 10 wickets to get a free cricket bat from them, and it took me more than 700 chewing gums to reach that mark and yes, I did manage to send all those to the company and they promptly sent me a cricket bat. My first 4 runs were of "Sandeep Patil" and my first 6 runs was of "Viv Richards".
We used to have a terrace of our own, so during pournami (full moon) days, we all go to the terrace with all cooked food and my granny will mix the rice with Sambar and she used to make all the members of the family sit in a circle she would place that hot rice on our hand, the waiting time for you to get your next turn is the most anxious waiting time ever, that hot sambar rice with 'sutta appalam' would taste heavenly. When ever we decide to have dinner in the terrace, my joy would know no bounds, that is some real quality family time and today you cannot even dream of getting such family bonding time as we are faking ourselves to be busy in this world.
Whenever my dad or mom returns from work, they have to get me something to eat, I would search their bags to find some thing or the other for me to eat, some days you may find one, some days you may not find anything, but that wait and that eagerness to see what they would have bought me was fun, it can be as silly as a 'strong mittai' to a 'eclair chocolate', but I enjoyed that small surprise.
Then Mittaai - That was poor man's basundhi in my opinion, it was sold at 5 paise per piece and I was super mad with that taste, though I now realise that it was not 'honey' and it was just 'sugar syrup', but its soft outer texture and when you bite that, a splash of that 'sugar syrup' hitting the walls of your cheeks, that was heavenly. I would have easily spent more than 50 rupees only on 'Then mittai' when I was a kid.
Marbles / Top / Kite - These were the real team building games in my opinion (not the one's played in our sickening corporate world).
Marble game had two flavours - 1. Raaja - Raani - Toni 2. Bendhaa. I was a champ on these two versions. I was spot on to find the 'Kuzhi' and become the Raaja and choose my own Raani and make others "toni". Bendhaa is a team game, you form two teams and then you draw a peculiar lining on the road and arrange your opponents marbles, and the the other team has to push all the opponents marbles out of the 'rectangle', the challenge here is, your marble should not get caught in that rectangle, so you should hit fast and accurate. Finally the team which looses it will have to do 'Mutti kaasaradhu', that means, they will have to keep pushing their marbles with their 'Elbow bone' and if you miss it, the tar on the road will tear your skin.
Top - You have to wound a thread on the top and swing it hard so that you break the opponents top and that is called 'Aakar' and I have broken many many tops, due to my speed and accuracy.
Kite - I should not self broadcast my self, but I AM THE EXPERT IN PUTTING MAANJA IN THE WHOLE OF MYLAPORE. Children from various slums would come and take tuition from me in applying MAANJA on the kite string. So what is Maanja? It's a deadly mixture of these ingredients - Glass, vajram (calcium & jaggery) and rice flour. You first have to grind the glass to a fine powder and that needs a skill on its own, then carefully mix the glass powder with vajram (this is the softener), add water and rice flour in careful portions and heat this deadly combo till it bubbles settle and the liquid become a thick viscous. Once the content is cooled down, you have to carefully apply that on the string and dry the string in 'air'. So why I am the EXPERT here? Because I USE BARE HANDS TO APPLY THE MAANJA, and that gives full coverage to the string and if you either rub the content too slow or too fast on the string, your finger may not stay in your hand.
With technology caging us in front of a stupid hand-held, we feel like jail inmates in the hands of technology. We hardly see family and friends, the first thing we ask them when we meet them is, are you in FB or WhatsApp, we are slowly reluctant to talk to real people. Every family has a "WhatsApp" group now and life has truly become digital. Where do family get time to eat in the terrace? Where are those ice-selling vendors near the schools? Do kids even walk to their school these days? Where is the value of money here? Why are kids not playing on the streets anymore? I have played games like PAANDI on the roads, does anyone even know the rules of PAANDI today?
Technology is slowly distancing ourself from the real form of life, and I am sure, there will be a day where we kill all these tech gadgets and go back to the good old days of 1970s. I may not be alive to see that, but I was alive to enjoy those happy moments once.
Please write your comments on what you miss the most of your childhood days, I am happy to hear them out ....