A friend sent me this throwback-list of stuff that would resonate with a person who grew up in middle class India in the 70s and 80s. With a wry smile i acknowledged the fact that each one triggered a personal memory! The economic liberalisation of India that began in 1991 truly changed the consumer landscape of our country. When my mother in law told us stories of how in the early years of post-independence India they even purchased cloth from ration shops, we could barely comprehend such a scenario. After reading this list,the thought occurred to me that a couple of years hence if i shared these facts with our post-millennial born grandson (he of the new post-2010 ‘Alpha-generation’) he too would give me queer looks and roll his eyes at the kind of world granny grew up in!! No internet, no mobile phones, no cable tv, no glitzy shopping malls, no multiplex ~ there was almost nothing of what we take for granted today. So I note this down here as a reminder of how far we have progressed and also with a prayer that the world continues to be blessed with abundance…
So with some changes/editing/additions here’s a list of how it was during those days…
# Though you would not publicly acknowledge this now, between the age of 12-17 years, you were very proud of your first “Bellbottom” or your first “Maxi”.
# Your pride—your very first pair ofLevis or Wrangler jeans was courtesy a relative abroad who procured it on the basis of the Waist and Length measurements sent by you!
# Phantom and Mandrake were your only true heroes. You can also nod your heads to names like Champak, Chandanana, Lot-pot etc. The brainy ones read “Competition Success Review”.
# You took pride in turning to the back page of your latest Amar Chitra Katha and ticking off yet another title. How many ever you ticked, you still had many to go.
# Your “Camlin” geometry box & Natraj/Flora pencil were your prized possessions.
# The only “Holidays” you took were to go to your grandparents’ or your cousins’ houses.
# Ice-cream meant either an orange stick, a vanilla stick ,or a Choco Bar (i.e. if you lived in some swanky town!)
# Your first family car (and the only one) was a Fiat. Or an Ambassador. This often had to be pushed by the entire family to get going. The glass windows in the back seats would get stuck at the two-thirds down level and irk you no end! The window went down only if your puny arm could manage the tacky rotary handle to pull it down. Locking the door was easy. You just whacked the other tacky, non-rotary handle downwards!
# You gave your neighbour’s phone number to others with a ‘PP’ written against it because you had booked yours only 7 years ago and were still waiting for your number to come.
# Your parents were proud owners of HMT watches. You “earned” yours after your high school exams.
# You would have been to “Jumbo Circus”; held your breath while the pretty young thing in the glittery skirt did acrobatics; quite enjoyed the elephants hitting football, the motorcyclist vrooming in the “Maut-ka-Gola”; and it was politically okay to laugh your guts out at dwarfs hitting each others bottoms!
# You had at least once heard “Hawa Mahal” on the radio, and used to look forward to “Binaca Geet Mala” from Radio Ceylon Radio every Wednesday with the unforgettable voice of Ameen Sayani.
# If you had a TV, it was normal to expect the neighbourhood to gather around to watch the Chitrahaar or the Sunday movie. If you didn’t have a TV, you just went to a house that did. Chitrahar days were when the neighbourhood potluck happened at the TV-owner’s house!
# Sometimes the owners of these TVs got very creative and got a bi or even a tri-coloured anti-glare screen which they attached with two side clips onto their Weston TVs. That was a make-do “colour TV”, and would confuse the hell out of you!
# Black & White TVs weren’t so bad after all because cricket was played in whites.
# You thought your family rocked because you got your own (the family’s; not your own own!) colour TV when the Asian Games started. Everyone else got the same idea as well and ever since, no one came over to your house and you didn’t go to anyone else’s to watch TV.
# You dreaded the death of any political leader because of the mourning they would announce on the TV. After all how much ” Shashtriya Sangeet ” can a person take? Salma Sultana (with that big flower tucked behind her ear) didn’t smile during the mourning.
# The only “Gadgets” in the house were the TV, the refrigerator and possibly a mixer.
# Movies meant Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan.Before the start of the movie you always had to watch the obligatory “Newsreel”.
# You thought you were so rocking because you knew almost all the songs of Abba and Boney M.
# You couldn’t contain your happiness when you suddenly had knowledge of Grammy Awards and Tina Turner, and (OMG!!)… even Michael Jackson became familiar names.
# There were times when you used a pencil to rewind or fast forward a music cassette; and at other times you had to even clean the ‘head’ of your VCR or music player ( now try explaining that to a kid of today!!)
# School teachers, your parents and even your neighbours could whack you – and it was all okay.
# Clicking a photograph was a big thing. You were lucky if your family owned a camera. A reel of 36 exposures was valuable hence it justified the half hour preparation & “setting” & the “posing” for each picture. Therefore, you have at least one family picture where everyone is holding their breath and standing in attention!
Yes times change…and how!!