Friday, August 25, 2017

The Age Of Innocence

Past few weeks have had me going back in time and reminiscing about my childhood. The good old days where I just couldn’t wait to grow up. I feel very lucky sometimes to have witnessed the glorious time of 90s. To have used and beheld so many things and phenomena’s which are close to being obsolete now. I can now totally relate to the times when my parents used to say things like “In our days…” I can understand their nostalgia, the precious memories, the little things and stuff which you want to hold on to.

But time is unforgiving. It goes on from one decade to another, blurring the memories and fading recollections. We get wound up so badly in our present and future and we have no time or energy left to visit the past. Though some people say that what’s done is done and no good can come out of dwelling in the past, I do not agree. Our past even though done and dusted has many things to teach. Past mistakes, thinner days, old friends, the naughtiness, bad fashion choices, the list to revisit is endless but eventful. It is very strange how sometimes a small inconsequential thing takes us back in time. A song, a particular smell or perhaps taste of something suddenly reminds of a time long forgone. Recently when husband was devouring crème rolls, I happened to take a bite. Having tasted it after ages, the taste reminded me of the time my parents used to treat my sister and me to crème rolls in a small little bakery in our hometown.

Surprisingly I could recollect tiniest details about this little expedition of ours after having just a bite of this crème roll. The four of us on the light lime green scooter, me standing in the front and my sister sitting in-between mom and dad. The goodies from this tiny bakery stared at us through the thick glass slight pale yellow with age. Sometimes we used to go to the STD PCO nearby and talk to our cousins, all the time nervously eying the running meter. Needless to say, STD calls back then were a splurge. You only made these calls on important occasions and kept them short. For detailed conversations you wrote letters. Envelope and stamps enclosed the love (and tremendous information) filled letters. Then that evening walk to post the letter in the letterbox. The excitement of posting a letter was nothing when matched to the excitement of receiving a letter. When I was little my father was posted out of town and I had once written him a letter. It was a stupid letter which basically rambled about my day at school, conversations with the teachers (which by the way I had enclosed in double quotes). But the letter was so special, my father still has it in all its glory! It is still a topic for many a laughs in the family. An SMS, ping, chat and email whatever you call it can never ever match the charm of the good old (but forgotten) letters. Whenever I talk about letters I am reminded of one of my English teacher at school. She once narrated her years of courtship with her husband. Separated by distance her lover used to write her beautiful long letters. Young and naïve, she used to sit down with the letter in one hand and a dictionary in the other to understand the beautiful but difficult English words he used in his letters. For me at an impressionable age, this was the most romantic story and gesture. I longed ever since to receive such letters but sadly never received anything beyond fraandship notes.

School brings out another set of lovely memories. Getting up early in the wee hours of morning, catching the school bus and latest gossip on the way to school. During peak January winters my mother used to literally bundle me up in clothes. Warmer, two sweaters, a blazer and finally a muffler. I used to wait while walking towards my bus stop for a turn which would make me out of sight from my mother. After crossing the turn, the muffler used to come off, next the blazer which was then casually hung and carried on my arm. I thought it made me look very cool. Thinking back, it probably made me look like a fool walking in foggy winters carrying a coat rather than wearing it. But then a 13 year old girl rarely feels cold.

On sultry sweaty summer days I was welcomed with tall, chilled glass of nimbu pani, which was followed by an equally chilled bath. Afternoons made the water in the overhead tank extremely hot so my mother used to store the water in a bucket and put ice in it. I just can’t begin to explain the feeling of freshness this bath invoked! Next on the agenda was lunch, closely followed by the afternoon siesta in a room cooled by a dessert cooler. That siesta, an inconsequential thing back then seems like a luxury now. Nowadays even on the days of holidays I rarely manage to catch a siesta because of numerous chores to do. After siesta and a plateful of seasonal summer fruits, it was homework time and also an excuse to call friends on landline under false pretensions of study related ‘doubts’. Ah the landlines. The glorious era of blank calls and prank calls. I have these fond memories of the times all my cousins and myself used to sit together and decide who to prank. Scripts used to be made, everyone was assigned a specific role to play. But then came caller Id and this fun thing was lost forever. I feel bad for the kids of today. They will never know the fun of giving a blank call to someone just for the heck of it. And with true caller identification, prank calling someone is just not worth the risk anymore.

This is me in my age of innocence, riding a horse in Pahalgam (Kashmir)

Another one! Trying to emulate Madhuri Dixit's Maye-ne-Maye step from Hum Aapke Hai Koun here

This was a time devoid of any distractions what so ever. There was no Wtsapp or Facebook or even Orkut. Hell, there was not even a stable internet or laptops for that matter. TV channels and programs were limited. Radio was all about Vividh Bharti. I have solved numerous quadratic equations listening to programs like Chitralok, Hello Farmaish, Hello Saheli, Pitara, Jaimala and many many more. My sister and I also had this in-house music creation method wherein we used to record good songs from radio in our old cassettes. This was a critical job, you had to be smart enough to understand the song about to be played from the description of the movie, music director and the singers they announced. Then you also had to take care to press the record button at the exact time when the RJ stops and music starts, the next step was of course to again be on your toes towards the end of the song least you capture the voice of the RJ! This phenomena took considerable amount of our time, much to the chagrin of our parents.

Evenings meant power cuts and homework under candle lights because inverters were a luxury almost unheard off. If someone had a generator back then, it was considered to be big deal. When it got too hot inside, entire family dragged chairs and hand fans to the roof in a bid to enjoy some (nonexistent) breeze. This was also a time for a tête-à-tête with the neighbors via conjoined roofs. Longish power cuts gave way to antakshari and so much fun that everyone went back downstairs with heavy heart when the electricity returned. Dinner time conversations were actual conversations because there was no cellphone and hence no distracted, monosyllable answers.

The life we lead now is definitely not bad, in fact far from it. Various gadgets and inventions have only made our lives easier. Who would have imagined booking a cab just by a few swipes and clicks back then or delivery of just about anything at your doorsteps. Everything is great but somehow there is a detachment. But then we never know what new inventions or style of living is in store for us in future. Least we can do is live each moment to its fullest, touch as many lives as we can, meet new people, create one beautiful memories after other. Whenever we look back towards the time gone by, it should always be with a smile.