So it’s the morning of my sister’s engagement, and I’m sitting, reflecting upon everyone’s “Kitni jaldi badi ho gayi” comments. It occurs to me how kids these days (God, I feel grown up) don’t know of life outside of their gadgets. A 5 year old can operate an i-phone but may not know what ‘kacchi mitti’ in a game of hide and seek means. 12 year olds have boyfriend issues. They’re skipping the growing up phase ! And the thought of it gives me jitters. Do you remember the days of yonder when everything was rosy ? There was no drama with school friends. Katti was the highest form of punishment. You didn’t care about how you dressed, what or how you ate. No worries about being judged. Sadly, we transitioned into tech loving teenagers, leaving behind our innocence in the wake of middle school. Remember how life was before then ? Here’s a trip down the memory lane of the stuff we did and childhood memories that no kid should miss out on :
1. The Collectors:
Tazos, trump cards, WWE cards, you name it and we had it. Every penny saved went straight into the cool-stuff-fund. These babies earned you bragging rights at school and evenings would be spent striking out exchange deals for your old tazos in return for that coveted swanky favourite.
2. Naani ka Ghar:
Come May, and you couldn’t wait for the school summer vacations to begin. You’d either gruel over the holiday homework with Rasna or bug your elder sibling to finish it the day before school reopened, either way, vacations meant lazing around at naani’s place and returning home 3 weeks and 6 kilos upwards.
3. The Tid-Bit Treats:
These packets of happiness priced at 2 rupees each were the ultimate shiz. A group of friends would pitch in to get a packet each of Rochak, Aam paachak and all other coloured goodies they could spot and then split the prize. And how can you forget Funflips ? 5 rupees fetched you a humongous pack of these finger licking good corn puffs, and they seemed to never finish off.
4. Silly Games and School Bus Rides:
Jolly, Khadingo-Baithingo(sitting-standing), Jinx, Mummy swear(no value of crosses), Same to you, back to you, No returns. Do these phrases ring a bell ? You heard them on bus rides to school while being involved in a quick game of Red-Hand, Ham-Cheese-Ham-Burger or Ola-Ola. I’ve always wondered who created those crazy-ass games.
5. Video Games:
You could breeze through Road Rash, Dave, Contra, Donkey Kong with gazillions of afternoons worth of practice behind you. Even the booby-trapped castle that Mario has to get through and it turns out to be just a toad person. It would’ve been nice to know which castle the princess was in. Oh wait, world 8-4. Yep, we’re there.
But wait, DUCK HUNT ! It’s bad enough that your aim sucks and you can’t hit ducks. On top of that, your loyal mutt snickers at your performance after the round. And who could forget that look of disappointment after inserting a game cartridge and getting nothing but a solid colored screen? Not to worry! There was an easy way to fix this – blow the dust out of the cartridge and re-insert it into the system. Boom, your game works again!
6. Comics and Cartoons:
Unarguably, we grew up in the best phase with cartoons such as Tom& Jerry, Loony Tunes, Pokémon, Dexter’s Laboratory as our staples. The dose of western culture and superheroes was provided by the Archie’s, Spider-Man, Super-Man and Champak. And you could barter them in exchange for favours from friends.
7. Bicycle Races:
Evenings and Sunday mornings were when we could venture out of homes with our bicycles. Remember the shiny paint on your first bicycle ? The newest one on the block got the most attention, and everyone wanted a ride. The cooler than thyself kids called it their ‘bike’. And there was always that kid who was the undisputed winner of all colony bicycle races. And he’d never let you forget it.
8. Sibling Revelry:
Against the outside world, you and your siblings united to be a force to be reckoned with. Inside the confines of home, your mother couldn’t get the lot of you to even sit through a meal without constant bickering. Touching your sibling’s stash of candies, scoring the bigger piece of cake, or turns over the video game console, everything was a valid point to fight over. Common war cry was ‘Ab tu bach’ before flinging your shoe at them. And you’d even accuse your parents of having a favourite since the elder sibling ALWAYS bore the brunt of everything.
9. Walkman Days:
Before i-pod shuffles, Walkmans ruled the roost. That cool cousin of yours owned one and would let you fiddle with his collection of cassettes. And then you’d use a pencil to unravel all the brown mess of magnetic tape. Those were the days of K.K and Lucky Ali and banging desks at school to the tune of WE WILL,WE WILL, ROCK YOOUU !
Catching a movie at a cinema was a once in a blue moon affair. And since we had no reality shows then, and American sitcoms hadn’t taken over us yet, we were content with our Yash Raj romances, Barjatya’s Salman movies and those slick Govinda movies.
11. Of Exams and New Academic Sessions:
Back then, the concept of ‘all-nighters’ was foreign. You had to religiously prepare for the exam and be done with the syllabus in time enough to sharpen your pencils, arrange them neatly and go to sleep by 10. A new session meant bringing out your fanciest stationary items, the heavenly scent of freshly bound books and notebooks. Aah ! Not quite the same as buying a single notebook to last you the entire year at college, is it ?
Now, this list isn’t exhaustive, but you sure have them feels, don’t you ? There’s milkshakes, that first swimming lesson, family trips, Milky bars, flashy raincoats, school picnics, AARRGGHH. Nostalgia :’)
Help me add to this list with more such childhood stuff you can recall. You can also confide in me with some embarrassing stuff you did back then. I’ll keep it a secret, pinky promise !
By- Navni Bhatia