My 90s Childhood

Mar 27, 2016

Remember the times when childhood was simpler. There was no concept for pre-school or play schools or whatever that is going on now which I am yet to wrap my head around. Majorly because even for being born in the late 80s, I even had the simplest childhood among my cousins because I was raised in a town in Arunachal Pradesh. 

Birkhey Bhaiya, a boy who was from Nepal used to drop me to school and return. While going to school he used to pluck me berries (amla and hartaki) to have in school. In my make believe world – if you eat gooseberries along with bengal gram sprouts then it tastes like popcorn. I never tried this combo after I grew up because what if it doesn’t? I do not wish to hurt the 5-year-old me.

My happiest days were when Ma will send Rasna Cola instead of water in the opaque water bottle. I had no idea what she has poured in until I reached school. Ahh the bliss…Ohh the surprise.

Dad once gave me a bundle of pages and I made drawing on each page in a single day. So, I was told not to waste paper that way. He also gave me a diary of 1992 in which I used to draw with Birkhay Bhaiya. Though he went back to Nepal the next year, I still remember him for the drawing of the pink jumpy rabbit we once made, beautifully cut it out and pasted on the front door of our home. I even tried to feed our garden grown carrots to that rabbit once but he just won’t have it. How rude! So, I ate it. BTW, I still have that diary with his and my drawings.

But, of all days, Sunday was special. Whereas I used to wake at 10 AM the rest of the days for my 11 AM school, (My parents never disciplined me for waking up early. LOL.) on Sunday I make sure to get up before 9AM. The reason was simple – cartoons. We had Mowgli, Tales Spin and Uncle Scrooge. As far as I can recall, that was it. We didn’t have cable TV as there was no reception of that there. Only DD1, not even DD2. There was Aladin as well but it was telecasted at 4 PM on Friday. No? There was Rangoli, Mahabharata and Chandrakanta as well. Remember?

I used to watch them Mowgli while eating my breakfast (aloo paratha because that is my favorite even now). In fact, the only responsibility on my shoulders was to just finish my food. There were to bills to bother about, no grocery shopping, no need to worry about my attire for the coming week in office – just finish your food, scribble some alphabets and number in those fun colored books (which I loved doing) and sleep when asked to.

I specifically remember when on one evening, after my parents had put me to sleep, they came back to wake me up. I obviously pretended that I was sleeping. While both were standing at the door Ma said – “Maybe she is really sleeping”. Dad – “You seriously think that?” “Yes, guess she will not be able to watch the show”. (Though bedtime was 9 PM, I was made to watch all the Amitabh Bachchan movies that were telecasted on Friday and Saturday which used to end in the small hours of the night. Guess they were training me to party since I was 4.) I realized that they genuinely wished me to wake up so, I did and watched the very first telecast of Alif Laila  back in 1993. 

When I watch Alif Laila now, I can clearly see the poor visual effects but back then it used to send chills down my spine. We used to even discuss it with classmates the next day though we never had 100% comprehension of the story. When they started the Sindbad story, they showed a ship sailing in the ocean as a preview of the next telecast. Alka, my classmate said the next day, “My elder brother says that it is not a ship. It is just a toy shown that”. That line shattered many dreams.

(Alka was from Kerala and was my window to South India. She is one who introduced me to all the fun south Indian food which still remains of my favorite cuisine. I can kill someone right now for Chettinadu Chicken or at least, the food in Andhra Bhawan

I also recall watching Malgudi Days but my only motive was to listen to the ‘Ta-na-na-Ta-na-na-na-na…” and watch the cartoon on which the closing credits were shown. While I was amused by it, I remember that my parents had a serious face on while the show ended. I re-watched it recently (a year or two back) and realized what deeper and beautiful meaning every show holds. I could not even binge on them as they made me emotional.

All these memories and much more which I am unable to pen down right now hit me like a speeding truck when I received this book yesterday. Paper Boat was kind to send it to me weeks back. As I was traveling, I had no idea. When my stay at Ahmedabad got extended, my mother sent this to me along with some other things.

Thanks, Ma and Paper Boat for bringing me back the wonderful memories.

I called room service for Aloo Paratha. I will try to have some South Indian for dinner :D


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