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I turned 24 almost three months ago. 24. That’s three times eight, for any unfortunate math enthusiasts out there. And with each and every passing day, I can’t help but wonder in retrospect, how quickly the years have passed.
I don’t know about all of you but, I have a largely shitty memory. I mean I swear I can’t recollect even bits and pieces of my childhood, which is why every time I open my kiddie photo album, it’s a surprise. Photos, hundreds of them, of me playing in the snow in Shimla, of me riding a camel in Jaipur, so many photos.
And, I don’t even have a single memory of those days. However, as shitty as my memory is, I have a distinct and vivid recollection of one constant in my life growing up.
I grew up in Janak Puri, a largely-Punjabi suburb in Western Delhi, a place that still has that lingering smell of fried tomatoes. I had a cat whose name I can’t remember (odd, considering I hate cats. They’ll eat you if you die). I remember parts of that period in the late 90s and early 2000s when power cuts were a regularity of Delhi life.
What I remember most vividly, however, is how my parents and I used to walk to the nearby C-4 market, whenever we had a power cut, to the blue minivan that substituted as a Chinese fast food place in the evening.
We never experimented with much of the menu (I still don’t). I remember we used to order the same portions of chicken sweet corn soup, spring rolls, and chicken chowmein every time we went. There never was any seating for those who chose to eat there but, we didn’t mind as the stony ledges worked just fine.
We just sat there, slowly sipping our soup, nibbling at the spring rolls and chowmein and laughing as Janak Puri burst into life around us, the perpetual power cuts being the least of its worries. What I wouldn’t give for another one of those days.
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I don’t know about you but, I’ve found that we tend to attach more value to some days and experiences as time passes. As a young kid who was just happy to have Chinese food on a regular basis, my almost-daily trip to the minivan was a joyful habit.
As an adult, however, I wish I had more than just a fleeting memory of those experiences to reminisce about. I miss the sound and colour associated with the market, the salty smell of Chinese food and I miss the tomatoes.
But most of all, I miss how simple everything was. A part of me actually wishes I was still a kid if it meant I could have one more day having sweet corn soup, spring rolls, and chowmein over there.
The minivan is still there but, the staff is different and the food is not nearly as good as the menu that was served before. I don’t know what to make of that. A part of me says that my chance to relive those experiences has passed me by but, another tells me that maybe, such is life.
That life isn’t as sweet and simple as childhood makes it to be, and that maybe, it offers us no choice than to just move on forward, past what we consider to be our best memories and experiences. Either way, I miss the blue minivan.
I have had thousands of soups, spring rolls, and chowmein since. But, none of them come even a little close to the ones I had as a kid. Not even a little bit, not even at all. Such is childhood, nothing compares to it, and you can’t live it twice.
Image Credits: Google Images