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QuoraED: What Was It Like To Grow Up In India In The 90’s?


QuoraED! This is when we pick up a trending or interesting thread from Quora and spin a story around it.

The newer and the older generations have no idea what it was like to grow up in the 90’s. It was an amazing phase where nobody was perpetually glued to their smart phones nor were people orthodox like before.

We found this interesting thread on Quora where Balaji Viswanathan shared his experience and many were able to relate with him.

The question reads: What was it like to grow up in India in the 1990s?

The answer:

The 1990s was the age of sensation in India. The period from 1992–94 was especially breathtaking. It was a time icons were made. It was the time India was made. It was also a time India faced massive threats [Babri Masjid and its fall out, Mumbai blasts, plague scare, Harshad Mehta, Kashmir terrorism, collapse of USSR, Gulf war].

Think of Sachin Tendulkar, Aishwarya Rai, AR Rahman – all those national brands were created in that decade. Growing up in 1990s meant having a front row to watching those icons created in real time. It was the delight of seeing Sachin score his first few centuries LIVE.

I remember coming home from school with excitement to watch Sachin’s first century – in the autumn of 1994. There was nothing as joyful in those boyhood times as watching Sachin score a century. Even by his first century, he was a national sensation. We would have bets on who would finally beat Desmond Haynes who had an insurmountable 17 ODI centuries.

Read More: Games From My Childhood: 90’s Kids Had Better Games Than Today

There have been so many Miss Worlds and Miss Universes. No one else could create the sensation like Aishwarya Rai did. She was a sensation well before the victory [remember those Pepsi ads]. I remember my close friend in 6th standard agonizing over Rai losing Miss India to Sushmita Sen.

india in the 90's

I remember when Coca-Cola allowed to come into India in 1993. My dad took me to the shop to buy a chilled bottle of iconic Coke and told me something along the lines of “this is how freedom tastes like”. The sugar was taking Indians to a high. I remember holding my first bottle of Coke – that brilliantly designed glass bottle and still can’t believe how much that stupid sugar water is so addictive.

TV became very sexy. In a very short time in the early 1990s we got a whole of world channels piped into our home and it was a shock after watching the staid state owned Doordarshan. The blatant nudity of HBO movies & FTV was a massive shock to Indians corrupted by Victorian era morals. They reacted as though they never seen nudity in temple walls.

We collected Big Fun chewing wrappers and the idea was that the runs in those wrappers amounted to something. We bought trump cards [especially WWF ones and I always wanted Undertaker card when he was Rank 3] and played like maniacs.

quora 2

Besides watching WWF [later WWE] we watched lots of Cartoon Network once we came home from school [it is not like you could watch cartoons on phones back then].

By mid 1990s we had the Internet. I remember the iconic reception Bill Gates got in India to launch Windows 95. Even the regional magazines were full of things about Bill Gates [maybe Microsoft PR did a lot of spending]. Internet was a rage in the late 1990s.

I was reading about the Internet for a long time and in 1998 I finally got to browse my first page. It was crazy expensive – Rs. 60 for 1 hour of browsing [that is like Rs 300 now]. I had 10 rupees and a super slow modem, thus had only enough time to create my first email account that I use to this day.

I bought my first domain name in 11th standard but didn’t realize those addresses are not permanent. Plenty of my pages over time ended up in the trash bin. It was an age of optimism.

By 1996 all we could hear was bad news. Taliban was taking over Afghanistan and we would get horror news from them. As Pakistan started testing increasingly large ranges of missiles they bought from North Korea, there was a fear of a nuclear war.

In 1995, we went to J&K for pilgrimage and I remember fearing terrorist attacks anytime. It was a time when terrorists would bomb at will and kidnap tourists. In 2–3 years they removed all western tourists from those idyllic hills.

The Kapoor/Bhachhan era gave way to the Khans and in the early days they were acting out cheesy romantic flicks with super long names – KKHH, DDLJ, HAHK…

quora 3

Quality Hindi movies became rare in 1990s and that came at the turn of the millennium with Lagaan – when the Khans moved to more serious stories. If 1990s Bollywood has to be summarized it is that “Boy loved girl. Then girl loved boy. They all danced”.

Overall, the 1990s packed action, fear, and excitement. It was like being in a theme park.

 The 90’s is now a thing of the past but it’s always nice to reminisce what it was like growing up. Soon, the generation of today will be sharing their own stories of growing up and I doubt it will be even half as engaging as this one.

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