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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Metamorphosis – Childhood dream years






Abstract: Most of us are born in the country after independence. We are now used to the cozy life with its usual ups and downs. It was a roller coaster ride, exciting, as one goes down the memory lane to share the defining moments as witnessed. This post is conceived as a result of an exchange of thoughts with the seasoned writer Zephyr  of a popular blog 'Cybernag' . The post has been serialized, based on the nostalgic memories of the bygone years.Read the Part-I........

When we opened our eyes, India was a free country! In fact it was just a decade older than most of us who were born around this time! As we tried to crawl and learn our first steps to walk, the country too likewise tried to stand on its feet. There were 400 million mouths to feed and being basically an agrarian economy, the priority was to setup the industry, infrastructure and generate new vistas of employment! The states which were ruled mostly ruled by maharajas were slowly getting integrated into the mainstream by the huge effort of Sardar Patel, the first Home Minister! I do not intend to make this sound like an essay on building modern India, but focus on how the lives changed in the formative years. There was a constant fear of disintegration of a plural nation by the western world!

I was born in a family which cherished strong family values. The childhood days used to be great fun, to be raised in a small government flat with other two younger brothers and with many children staying in the vicinity, in the same age group. My father even with his modest means spent a fortune in sending us to the best public school as he understood that a good education was necessary for us to do well in life. The children with whom we played Cricket, Kho Kho, Football and Pittho( an Indian game)  studied in the government schools in the neighborhood. We broke the glasses without remorse when the ball crashed into the window instead of crossing the fence.

There was a Jamun tree at home where the fruit would turn the earth violet during the monsoons. We would climb the tree to devour the fruit. We sometimes played ‘Gulli Danda’(local game) and marbles with our friends and were always admonished by our parents for taking up the uncouth games!  All the brothers learnt to cook as our mother went to teach in a Montessori school and we would get time to experiment in the kitchen while she was away. There was no TV and only a radio at home, on which Vividh Bharti played during the day and at night we would hear the 9 PM news by stalwarts like , Melville De Mello,Devki Nandan Pandey and Lotika Ratnam.

The country went to war with China in 1962, with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 and we witnessed the rationing of food, air raid warnings, blackout and hiding in the makeshift trenches when air raid warnings were sounded! We had to stand in long queues to get the monthly ration of wheat, sugar and kerosene as the cooking gas was still not easily available. India used to get wheat as aid from US under PL(Public Law) 480 scheme as food was scarce due constant famines . The era of 1970s saw the ushering of ‘Green Revolution’ where India became self reliant on the food front! There were no cars in our colony and people mostly went to office on cycles and in later years on scooters or mopeds.

The festivals, especially Janamashtmi, Diwali , Dusshera, Durga Puja and Holi were celebrated with great gusto and gay abandon in our locality with participation of one and all. The best part was constructing a temple with bamboos, banana stem and leaves on Janamashtmi and likewise effigies of Ravana on Dusshera. We would beeline for pandals where the Durga Puja was hosted from Shashti ( Sixth day) onwards  to enjoy the thrills. Regardless of our religion or beliefs everyone joined for the celebrations.

We would get new clothes stitched on our birthdays and at festival times! Sometimes we would buy the Khadi shirts from Khadi Bhandar in the Regal building around Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday when there was a sale. I do not have any recollection of eating outside except Idli/ Dosas at India Coffee House at Janpath. Money was spent with a lot of discretion and there was no splurging! Gifts came in form of books or clothes for any academic achievements.

The neighbors were generally very large hearted and would exchange food and delicacies cooked, so we learnt to appreciate the cuisines from other part of the country! The best past time besides playing games was reading, ‘Parag’, ‘Nandan’, ‘Chandamama’ and ‘Champak’, ‘Phantom’ , ‘Noddy’ and ‘Archies’ (all kids magazines and comics). The stories would transport our imagination to a whole new world! The hot summer months were mostly spent at home playing indoor games like Carom, Ludo, Snakes and Ladder, Bagatelle, Cards etc.At night we would spread the cots out in open and sleep, caressed by gentle wind with a blanket of star studded sky with the moon playing hide and seek with clouds!

During this time, I fell in love with books by, Enid Blyton, Frank Richards (creator of Billy Bunter), Capt WE Johns (creator of Biggles), classics, folklore, and stories from epics plus so many more! As buying so many books was a luxury, we pedaled to the Delhi Public Library which had a decent collection of books for children and one could loan books for two weeks. The membership was free!

The only change in fashions we experienced were seeing evolution of the ordinary pant to a bell bottom, and denim jeans. Terylene shirts came as presents from our cousins from abroad. Even the girls wore mostly skirts or salwar kameez and later jeans and tee shirts unlike a galore of dresses from spaghetti and noodle straps, tank tops and many other, available now.

Around the time I grew, great institutions like the IITs and IIMs were setup. Everyone nurtured a dream of joining the IAS, professional medical or engineering colleges besides a few who joined NDA to pursue a career in Armed Forces, after school as there were very few avenues, then.

Mostly people performed their duties with basic honesty and the greed to hoard was almost nonexistent at least among the masses! I do not remember any major scandals coming to light till our childhood times and elections were won mostly on ideology!

The next phase of life of entering a college, the most colorful one was about to begin…( In the next post)

PS- Images Kind Courtesy Google





58 comments:

  1. Yes, those days will never come again , you almost covered all that we enjoyed..growing up with grand parents at home was a bonus and sharing a 25 paisa cake with siblings made the bonding last loooong :-)

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    1. Very true, Padmaja!Those were the days:)Those small things cemented ties for all times to come!

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  2. hey, Rahul, it was entirely your idea, I only told you to make a series with your own experiences added to it. Thanks all the same for linking my blog and giving me credit :)

    Those indeed were the days when less was more. I would have liked a little more detail about the war years and how students did their bit for the country in terms of organising collection drives for the jawans and their families and rousing patriotic fervour. The rationing bit will surely make the children aware of the times when one had to do with little since buying sugar and good grains in the open market was beyond most middle class citizens.

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    1. Zephyr, it is very kind of you to give that credit to me, but if my memory serves me right, the idea for series was a suggestion from you that set the ball rolling! I need to have cover more ground on some issues as you have rightly mentioned.

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  3. You transported us to the golden age :) Waiting for the next part

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    1. Am very grateful to you, Insignia for those lovely words:)

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  4. ohhh wow!! champak and noddy..! This is amazing, I was transformed into the golden age. I too was to right on a similar topic on Sunday then and now. I think I should complete that now! Wonderful, awaiting the next part!

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    1. A big thanks! Jenny await your version of things:)

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  5. Hmmm....I felt as if I was reading my childhood years too, Rahulji!

    I remember fasting on Monday evenings because our then PM Shastriji asked us to do so during the wartime. And 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan' chanting was heard from everywhere and in school prayers too!

    As you said eating out was unheard of for us too...everything was cooked at home. Dresses just for birthdays and deepawali!

    Those were the days. I wonder what my children would write about their childhood...their life also was not spent in extra luxury, so it must have been interesting.

    This post of yours was very interesting to read and thanks for taking us also down memory lane, Rahulji! Waiting to read the next part!

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    1. Sandhya, am very happy to have struck the right chord! Would you believe that I and my wife are still carrying on the legacy of the Monday fast started from Lal Bahudur Shastri's time:)

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    2. Are you still fasting? Great! May be I too should not have stopped. He was a great man!

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  6. You revived our childhood memories! we fondly remember our childhood memories at any age. Eagerly waiting for the next part :)

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    1. Very nice to see you back Kitty! Childhood memories are indeed what every one likes to recollect:0

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  7. I loved reading this nostalgic post, it gave me such an interesting glimpse into your world and inspiring youthful days. I wish we still lived in such times when things were simpler, or that I had a chance to experience it.

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    1. Sam that is a beautiful comment and am very happy that though you life in a different part of the world, still relate to small things which bring pleasure:)

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  8. It appears to be my own story! The good old days!

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    1. A very big thanks PN for that kind remark!

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  9. Loved the post...remembering childhood makes one so nostalgic.

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    1. A huge thanks Ria for liking to read about some interesting times:)

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  10. I liked the past, but the present too is fascinating, for despite all the rot, we still have many things to be happy about.Though getting a coke that really tasted like coke for 50 paisa, is a thing that is not possible ever in our lives.

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    1. Rama, I am sure I will not disappoint you as my remaining post talk about the fascinating things which have happened in recent years! This post is by no means trying to convey that those times were better! Yes, You will never get Coke for 50p as that coin is now out of circulation:)

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  11. A lovely, nostalgic post dear Rahul. I enjoyed reading about your younder years and though we live in different countires there are a lot of experiences that we share. Life was much simpler then, we had very little but we looked after what we did have. People helped each other more in the past, they were less insular.
    I am looking forward to the next part of your story.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Dianne, it is strange that though we live in different parts of the world but generally share similar experiences of growing up! Thanks a lot for that beautiful comment!

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  12. I think that i willsave this post among my favorites, you have written an intense and beautiful post!

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    1. Francesca, am touched with your sweet comment! A sincere thanks:)

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  14. What a picturesque post. You bring back images of Chandamama and Champak (are they still on the market?) and bell bottoms and all. The bell bottoms were on their way out when I was born.

    Ah Enid Blytons! I'm going to be reading them again when my little one begins to read his first few novels.

    Your writing is lovely too. :)

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    1. Welcome to my blog! A sincere thanks for those lovely comments! I have seen your travel blog too and found them equally fascinating:)

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  15. Hi Rahul, This is a fine series you have started. Although I was born closer to the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971, I have no memories of it whatsoever. Yet, I can identify myself with the Jamun tree, kind neighbours and the bell-bottoms. I also fondly remember the children's periodicals like Parag, Nandan, Chandamama, Champak, ‘Phantom’ and I'd like to add Madhu Muskan (agreed it was a straight rip off of Laurel & Hardy and Beetle Bailey), and Tintin. I am swooning here with joy by the mere remembrance of them all....

    I will carry on reading.

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    1. Umashankar, A big thanks to you!The list of those kind of reads, Dennis the Menace, Garth( HT!comics)nis so long that it would need another post solely devoted to them:)A fantasy world, it was:)

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    1. A bow to thee, Lady Fi for your kind words!

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  17. I enjoyed reading about that time. Somehow, my parents never shared those experiences, and my father was born around independence. Jamun is my favorite fruit :). Since most of us have been born after the wars, so it is always fascinating to hear about them. A little more about your experiences around the wars and the Emergency would be nice too. Look forward to reading more posts.

    http://rachnaparmar.com

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    1. Rachna, I felt very happy to read your nice comment and found that so many things struck the right chord:)I will try to write a post on the war and war preparedness as I saw on my trips to Israel to set the adrenalin rushing!A very big thanks to you for reading!

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  18. My parents and grand parents shared lots of stories like how my mom knitted wollen socks for Indian Army Jawans and about the huge crowds that used to gather when big leaders used to make speeches.We still have Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi's huge pictures at my grandparent's home.
    I remember reading most of the books that you have mentioned and one Lotpot used to be my favorites.Remember waiting eagerly for Dharmyug ,Mayapuri ,Sarita ,Illustrated Weekly ,Hind pocket books.Have faint memories of elders talking about emergency ,Sanjay Gandhi.Phulan Devi's surrender pictures in various mags ...I can go on and on .
    Thank you so much for this fabulous post ,loved reading it and now looking forward to the next part.

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    1. I am lucky to have readers like you who find resonance of view:) Those things you mentioned in your comments add value to this humble post:)

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  19. sometimes I wish that we hadnt progressed at all if it meant to be what we are today.

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    1. So true Renu!At least the simple pleasure should remain as they were!

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  20. It’s worth remarkable looking back at our lives and things come across! I have enjoyed almost things you have experience at alive.

    These days we almost miss the fun, entertainment and ideology into folded boxes of TV and PC internet. The life has been enclosed with diseases without much physical activity and I guess we are losing parallel however we gain. Thanks for sharing and inspiring with turn back at our history… Looking forward to other parts of the series.

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    1. Thanks Jeevan! We tend to be too much engrossed in virtual world when there is so much of real world around us to enjoy!

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  21. Beautiful post just like those days. My parents recount so many stories to me of those times.. the simplicity, the love, the joyous moments and listening to all of those I feel in spite of all the luxuries and comforts that I enjoy, I am missing so much. Sometimes I wish I could just step back and live my life in that era... It sounds so beautiful... Thank you very much for sharing this heartfelt post and thank you to zephyr too :)

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    1. Agree Arti and a sincere thanks to you! Zephyr has wide experience and her views helped in forming ideas for this post! I hope you will find time to read the other posts in this series as they dwell on more recent times!

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    1. Izdiher,So sweet of you to find this interesting! A huge thanks:)

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  23. Great post. Well said.

    Thank you for visiting, Rahul!

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  24. that was an awesome post...
    i was visualizing the games and other things u mentioned throughout...

    nice concept of series..
    waiting 4 the next one!!

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    1. That was really nice. Though I was born probably later than you, my childhood was similar to yours. Tells you that time moved very slowly those days. I do not remember the Chinese war because I was not born then but I do remember very vaguely the Bangladesh war- we were staying very close to the border...!Life was simple and people believed in human values. These days we seem to have no time for anyone and it is a nightmare to get on to the streets!

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    2. Thanks a lot Jyoti for that very sweet comment:)I am happy you liked it!

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    3. There could be nothing better than a compliment that you could relate to the post, Meera! Those comments add value to this offering:)

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  25. Sir those were as you said days when people were not a part of race to outdo each other. They lived and did what they wanted to do with honesty. But today, world is a different place. Even when we were in school only a handful had luxuries. Most of the kids were down to earth. I think we are corrupting ourselves in the name of growth.

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    1. Saru, I understand what you mean and it is unfortunately the game of one up man ship now, which has offset the balance of a nice way of life!At least I am lucky to have lived my life with right kind of people including having sweet people like you as blogger friends:)

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  26. It's so nice to know in detail about the environment, in the Post Independence Era. I've heard about it from Elders in the family and I was able to relate to a lot of what you had mentioned. Despite the luxuries we have today, I somehow miss not being a part of that age!

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  27. Ashwini, thanks a lot for that lovely comment! We all are blessed to be born in times of huge changes around us ! No time since evolution of man have so many changes happened :)

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  28. This post was so refreshing to read....the steady pulse of life built on honest hard work and a generous heart. Thanks so much for sharing these posts that take us back a generation or two :)

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    1. Thanks a ton for those beautiful comments!

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