Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Passerby

I generally refrain from posting about my childhood days. I have a feeling that it might make me feel bad that they’ll never return and I’ll be left brooding over how great life used to be in those days. Yet, I guess I should do this exercise sometime lest all those memories themselves sweep by with the waves of time and age. So here’s a list of some of those things from childhood that I could’ve spent a lifetime on…

My pet: My dog, Hero. We named him after Hero, the horse in the Phantom series. He was nothing short of a roaring cub when I first saw him. He stayed with us for over 10 years and was simply the best looking living being that ever walked on this planet. Ferocious like a wolf at times and as gentle as a rabbit at times, he made coming back home from school that much more special. If I made a list of all the things of my childhood that I’d want back in my life today, Hero would top the list by a mile. You had to be blind to not admire Hero!

Cricket: Galli cricket, to be precise. I used to play a lot of matches in tenth standard in flannels in lush outfields. I was reasonably good and made it to the trials of the under-16 U.P. state selection as well but my best memories of winning are from the matches we used to play in the lanes in front of our house.

Television: TaleSpin and the underdog of a pilot called Baloo, always fighting bad engines, a demanding boss and some wicked people in every episode. I used to identify with Baloo simply because Baloo’s favorite pastime when not flying would be to aimlessly laze around in his room.

Video Games: Contra, Road Fighter and the incomparable Mario, especially the latter. I might’ve become India’s answer to Albert Einstein if I’d spend those countless hours on science and research but what the heck!Getting to the princess was worth every second.

Hunger: There was something about Parle-G when I was growing up. It was a part of a daily snack routine. Once at 11 in the morning and the other pack at 5 in the evening. The other accompaniment to Parle-G used to be this particular brand of rusk biscuits called Madhurima Rusk.

Thirst: Those days, a bottle of Limca or Fanta would be consumed only on special occasions, like someone’s birthday or maybe once a week after the Sunday matches. The common favorite to beat the heat used to be something called a Chuski or the lip-smacking Kulfi.

Movies: Our acceptability of Hindi movies used to be far higher in school days. Believe it or not, watching movies like Waqt Hamara Hain, Aaj Ja Shehanshah, Fateh , Tirangaa and Tadipaar used to give us a kick.

Cycling: Racing on our cycles used to be another cracker of a pastime. The other variants of this would be slow cycling, letting go off your hands off the handles or trying to skid the back tyre of the cycle by braking suddenly and leaving a mark in the ground. The last of the lot used to be most fun!

Women: Let’s face it; impressing women had a different meaning those days. It used to mean a lot special. You also thought your chances with a particular girl were better if you got a few 3-pointers in a basketball game or scored above 30 and hit a couple of boundaries in a cricket match.

Computers: It used to be so hard to get hold of one when I was growing up. I don’t remember a single occasion when I was in a computer lab in school and I didn’t have to share a system.

Physics and Literature: An unlikely set but my favorite subjects in those days. Whitman, Tennyson, Shelley, O’ Henry, Shakespeare, Maugham, Greene used to be names that would mesmerize us. Our group was so impressed with O’Henry’s “After Twenty Years” , that we actually have a pact to meet at a particular restaurant in Ghaziabad in 2017! Newton, on the other hand seemed to have a role in every conceivable principle of Physics. It’d be rather safe, in case you were in doubt, in an exam as to why a particular force acted in a particular way to respectfully leave your answer as: “This occurs because of Newton’s law of motion.”

Sometimes when I look back at my childhood, it’s amazing how much life’s changed. Those days, one of our common grudges used to be “When’re we going to grow up?” and these days, our oft repeated grudge is “Why did we’ve to grow up?”

It’s a funny life...