Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I recently got an email listing 31 things that those who grew up in the '60s through the '80s would feel nostalgic about.

I added my own list of 25 items, given below:
1. In short recess at school, those of us who had 5 paise to 25 paise pocket money enjoyed buying red-and-white bubble gum dispensed from the top of a thick bamboo. The rest of us acted as if we hated the stuff.
2. Sometimes, some of our classmates would saunter back to class minutes after the bell went off after enjoying jeera goli and having the jam-like red churan jelly smeared on our faces.
3. Some of us also enjoyed thin slices of raw mango with salt and chilli powder.
4. No Lays, no Kurkure, no bottled water. We drank straight from the tap, and had no stomach upsets.
5. No coaching classes till Class IX at least.
6. School-bags were canvas, and lasted 3-5 years. If they tore or the seams gave way, we got them repaired/stitched from the cobbler.
7. We cheerfully walked kilometres to and from school, and then, immediately after our return, went out to play.
8. Outdoor games with simple props included a variety of marble games, including one with heavy iron balls as marbles; usually we use cement marbles (3 for 10p), not glass. We also played with catapults ("catties").
9. Sparrows were more plentiful than crows and pigeons. When is the last you saw a sparrow in Bombay?
10. We still had coconut trees to climb in Bombay.
11. Our parents usually had enough money to last till the next salary, though the mind boggles on how Mom made both ends meet, what with 3-figure salaries being quite common. Yet they had enough to spare for donating for causes like cyclone relief, earthquake relief, etc. through schools.
12. Cutex nail polish, Cuticura or Ponds Dreamflower talcum powder and Tata Eau-de-cologne were the mega-cosmetics brands. Who remembers Patanwala ka Afghan Snow, regularly advertised on radio?
13. Those of us whose Dads shaved regularly saw them sporting nicks equally regularly. After-shave treatment was not lotions, but a piece of alum. Some of us had Dads who were satisfied with shaving soap or even bath soap doing double duty, to save on shaving cream. No shaving foam.
14. No computers, no video games, no playstations or wii-s. Instead, we had miniature pinball, magic "disappearing egg", and a game where we arranged numbers 1-15 by moving square pieces using the sole blank spot on a 4x4 matrix. Another one involved putting 5 tiny iron balls into the innermost concentric circle all at a time.
15. We played barefoot, or at most, with chappals. No sneakers, walking shoes and running shoes.
16. The area around the apartment buildings was open -- hardly any cars were parked because very few people had cars.
17. There were at least a few bungalows/ independent houses in each locality in Bombay. They have all but disappeared in Bombay.
18. No swimming pools (except municipal), no basements. Some enclosed garages so you could lock your car out of sight of your envious neighbours' eyes.
19. 100% cotton was much cheaper than terry-cot or synthetics; and we hardly had ready-mades. Everyone had a fixed, favourite tailor.
20. Ready-made Shirts made of cotton gauze (!!) (fashionably called cheese-cotton) were available at Handloom House in Mumbai (since burnt down).
21. Clothes with multiple colours that ran -- "bleeding madras", I think it was called, were also in fashion.
22. Who can forget "double-knit" pant pieces smuggled from Japan sold by the neighbourhood tout?
23. Radio mostly meant Vividhbharati, Bombay A or Bombay B on Medium Wave.
24. Sunday morning 11 am was Bournvita Quiz Contest time on Vividhbharati, with Hameed Sayani, and after his death, Ameen Sayani compering the show. The timer's tick-tock still rings in my ears, and we had great fun when we knew the answer, but the team on radio did not. We kept repeating it, till we were told the answer -- as if they could hear us!
25. Listening to Voice of America or BBC Radio when conditions were just right, at night on shortwave, was another treat.

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