I remember we played a lot during those days. It was a big joint Indian family. We were 7 kids. All siblings, whether cousin or not, were treated alike and there was no favouritism. Days were full of fun, laughter, tears and fights. We started afresh each day. No fight among siblings lasted for more than a day. I owe this to the astute sense of our mothers. They always left us to resolve all issues on our own. We fought over books, toys, bicycles…and many more things. May be that’s the reason we all have excellent social skills. The most hilarious thing which I remember is that taking revenge after a fight was limited to deflating the tube of bicycle. We were so naïve that none of us ever surpassed this boundary line.
Whenever there was a power cut (day hardly ended without a power cut) all of us stepped out of our houses. This time was used for evening strolls by elders and for chit chat and useless banter by older generation .Power failure was a blessing for children as they played freely on the roads or parks. I am proud to say that we are children of Doordarshan Era. The excitement of watching TV on Sundays was palpable. We used to get up in morning, take bath and sit in front of TV. Mahabharata, Spiderman, Vikram betaal, Rangol- these television series have etched in our minds as well as hearts. I heard people saying that there was a curfew like situation on roads as ardent followers of Mahabharata watched it on TV. I bet all of us who belong to that era (it seems like Stone Age now) know about Binaca Geet Mala. My sister was such a diehard fan of Radio Jockey Ameen Sahani that she recorded all the songs played on his show on an audio cassette. Huh! This sounds so obsolete now. With the onset of CD players in market, my mum sold tones of those audio and video cassettes to raddiwala bhaiya . Children were so free in those days that they used their relaxed minds constructively which resulted in many important new age inventions.
One hears the stories of child abuse and molestation so often now. We can actually dedicate a column in the daily newspaper exclusively to cover this issue. I and my sister were never stopped from going to anyone’s house. Neither were we told about ‘good touch bad touch’ nor did we have any idea about this issue.
Weekend outings meant visiting a relative’s house and spending the evening together over a cup of coffee. Going to restaurants was limited to some special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. It meant such a big thing for us that we craved for ‘hotel ka khaana’ and relished those mouth watering dishes. I am still sensing the whiff in the air of that aroma while writing this. We never frowned upon the idea of travelling in the General Class compartment in trains. Two decades back educated middle class travelled in this General class.
I cherish those simple memories and rustic lifestyle. Children were forever brimming with joy and their innocuous nature was meant to be treasured. To clear the air, I did not live in any Malgudi Days village. I am born and brought up in capital city of Nawabs in North India. If ever I find the Lamp of Aladdin then my first wish would be -to be born again in the same family and relive those beautiful childhood days.
Now life is so easy. We lead a technological lifestyle. Morning starts with switching off the alarms on our mobile phone and nights end with snuggling into our warm beds wishing Good night to our Whatsapp friends. Social media and smart phones have bridged all the communication gaps. We could stay in touch with our old friends, change status, upload photos or click selfies. Our rmind is forever preoccupied and it makes me wonder at times if it was better to stay disconnected from some useless things in life. How does it matter what a classmate is doing in her life when we haven’t met for past 20 years. Do I need to know it? Everything is available at just click of a button- branded clothes, expensive footwear, exclusive watches- name it and it’s there. We are now travelling more than what our previous generation would have even dreamed of. Never heard of places are popular tourist destinations now. LCDs, Refrigerators, Phones, Tablets and even holiday destinations are available on easy EMIs. Needless to say, with the information overflow in the society children are more smart, knowledgeable and confident. My five year old keeps on conducting a quiz on Solar System’ for us. I have no qualms in accepting that I can’t even answer half of the questions asked. These children have a spectacular vocabulary, can’t say about others but I did not know the meaning of ‘camouflage’ at four years of age.
With so many amenities at hand we should be much happier and better off than what we were before. Instead, peace in our lives is missing. We click photos not to capture a moment but to share with our friends and receive maximum likes. Why is there a mad rush for everything? No one around looks satisfied –a ‘Scorpio’ owner wants to buy a ‘Fortunner’ to be happy, a person settled in India wants to move to Singapore to be happy, Someone wants to change a ‘Samsung’ phone to an ‘iphone’ to be happy. It is good to enjoy all luxuries but it is more important to be consciously aware of ourselves- our sole purpose in life. After all happiness is a state of mind. It is time for some soul searching or else we will be lost in this potpourri of worldly affairs.
(This article is already published on http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/3cs-children-competition-and-compassion/article/childhood-then-and-now)