Growing up like we did in the ’60s and’ 70s, we didn’t have as many amenities as we do today, and yet our childhoods were happy and fun. Of course, pleasure had a completely different connotation for us: a candy, a chocolate, an orange bar or a bottle of Coca-Cola were a great indulgence.
There were no video games or expensive toys to entertain, and we relied on simple games and the neighborhood kids. With the internet, computers and mobile objects of the future, we have had real interactions as opposed to virtual interactions. We would wait until the holidays to visit our maternal grandparents’ house, our unique vacations, every summer vacation. An occasional movie release was enough to send us to cloud nine.
Growing up in a middle-class family with two-three siblings, in times of famine, we learned to find joy in the little pleasures of life. We not only enjoyed the little things, but we also learned to appreciate the wait. There was no instant gratification, we had to wait for almost anything, big or small, and thus cherish the item when we finally got it. We had to wait until our anniversary or some special occasion to get a new dress. A wristwatch might not be on a kid’s wish list today, but I was on top of the world when I finally got an HMT watch, in the eighth standard as a reward for having was at the top of the class.
There were no refrigerators or televisions in our homes, gadgets that are now considered necessities. There was anticipation and thrill, expectation and excitement, and celebration as each new device was added to our homes. The acquisition of something as small as a transistor or a record player was a source of great joy to us. We would save money to buy discs of our favorite movies. Everyone wears a cell phone these days, but back then there was a long wait for a landline connection. A prior reservation, sometimes long, was necessary to buy a scooter.
I can’t forget how thrilled we were when ‘Hamara Bajajarrived loaded because my father had not yet learned to drive it!
The new generation of children are usually overly pampered, most are picky about food and their whims are catered for more often than not. When they don’t feel like eating homemade food, Zomato and Swiggy are there to deliver their food of choice to the door. However, we had to eat whatever was cooked, without tantrums. Pizza, burger and noodles were unknown and hot Samosas and jalebis were a great treat. Home deliveries are a recent phenomenon, but back then there was no dinner culture in restaurants either. In fact, there were hardly any fancy restaurants in my town until the early 1970s. I must have been a teenager when I first had the experience of eating in a three star hotel. I remember being uncomfortable with its ambiance. Naively, I drank the water from the bowl with my finger.
Good! We grew up in frugal times, but we cherish our childhood because there was something magical about this time of joyful and carefree innocence. The 60s and 70s may be a distant past, but we have a treasure trove of childhood memories. As the memories linger, the nostalgia remains.
The writer retired as an associate professor at MCM DAV College, Chandigarh)