For my generation that grew up in the 60s and 70s, childhood was sans much of the frills and amenities of today; nevertheless, it was joyful and fun-filled. It is another matter that fun for us had a different connotation altogether. A candy, a chocolate, an orange bar or a bottle of coke was a big indulgence. An occasional film outing was enough to send us to cloud nine. No video games, no expensive toys; we were happy playing simple games with the children in the neighbourhood. With the internet, computers and mobiles the things of the future, we had real interactions as opposed to virtual. Our one-stop destination, the only holiday resort that we knew was maternal grand parents’ house that we looked forward to visiting every summer vacation.
Growing up in middle class families with two-three siblings, in a period of scarcity; we learnt to find joy in small pleasures of life. Not only did we take pleasure in small things but also learnt to enjoy wait. No instant gratification, we had to wait for almost everything, small or big, and cherished what we got. We waited for our birthday or a special occasion to have a new dress. A wrist watch may not be on the wish list of the children today, but I was on the top of the world I get an HMT watch in eighth standard.
We did not have a refrigerator or television in our homes, the gadgets which are absolute necessities today. There was anticipation and thrill, wait and excitement, a sort of celebration for every new appliance that came into the household. The acquisition of a thing, as small as a transistor or a record player, was a source of great joy for us. We would save money to buy LP and SP records of our favourite movies. These days everyone carries a mobile, but back then there was a long wait of years for getting a fixed-line connection. A prior booking, at times running into years, was required for buying a scooter. I can’t forget how thrilled we were when ‘Hamara Bajaj’ arrived loaded in a lorry for the reason that my father didn’t know how to drive it.
The new generation of kids is usually over pampered, most are fussy about food and their demands are met more often than not. When they don’t feel like eating home-cooked food, Zomato, Swiggy are there to deliver their choicest food at the doorstep. However; we were supposed to eat whatever was cooked, no tantrums were tolerated. For us it was a simple home cooked food most of the times. Special food was reserved for special occasions. Pizza, burger, noodles were unheard of. For us hot samosas and jalebis from a sweet shop were a big treat. Home deliveries are a recent phenomenon, but back then there was no culture of dining out either. In fact, there was hardly any posh restaurant in my city till early 70s. I must have been in my teens when I had the first experience of eating out in a three- star hotel. I remember feeling ill-at-ease with its ambience. But one thing that I can never forget is that I was so naïve that I drank water served in the finger bowl.
These and many more sweet reminiscences of the 60s and 70s keep flashing back in black & white to create a treasure trove of memories that we cherish. As memories linger, nostalgia remains.
(Published in Hindustan Times, Sunday Read on Jan 2, 2022)