I miss those days when Classic Cartoon Network and Discovery Channel used to play all the time on our 14-inch TV sets. My holiday schedule comprised of watching Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, Dexter's Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, I R Weasel and Mystery Hunters, with some holiday homework and outdoor play thrown in here and there. Living in a joint family meant spending whole days playing Ghar-ghar indoors, Gallery on the terrace or Hide and seek in the street. I would go upstairs to my cousin's place to sit there chatting for hours or watching TV, until Dad called for the tenth time for me to come down and have lunch. That's when a frantic search for my slippers would begin in every nook and cranny of the house. Only to realise after 10 minutes of mad searching that I hadn't been wearing them when I came! My cousins still tease me over that. I miss those days.
Holidays homework meant reading novels prescribed by school teachers and writing their reviews, searching for stuff (not on the internet) to help write essays on disgusting topics, making simple science models with my own hands (never took anybody's help) and cutting up newspapers and charts to fill scrapbooks. I almost always failed to finish my homework by the last day of the vacations. And yet, I always managed to save myself from scoldings at school. I was a smart kid.
April Fools' Day would have us wondering how to and whom to fool. And we'd end up trying to make a fool of each other by shouting out things like "look, your brain's lying on the ground!" Once, though, we came up with this brilliant idea. We called 161 from the landline phone, which immediately resulted in a call back on the same phone. And we picked it up and called out to mom that it was for her. She came and took it from us, only to be faced by the dial tone. And we shouted, April Fool banaya! And then got scolded for disturbing her like that. Yeah, that was the kind of April fools we made.
Relaxing for me usually meant listening to the radio. Or if we go back a little more to the time when I was a little child, I would listen to my Dad's collection of pop music of his time - MJ's Thriller, Abba, Boney M, and the lot. Hindi music included the legendary Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar's hits, that too on cassettes.
Weekends were family's days out. We would sometimes dine out at Dilli Haat or Udipi Restaurant with masi's family. Or have full fledged family get-togethers at India Gate, complete with awesome food, ice-cream and boating on the lake. Or visit friends and family.
That's me, my elder sister and Mom on a trip to some hill station. I was maybe 6 or 7.
Festivals were another whole lot of fun. Holi would ideally involve bombing people with water-filled balloons, but we usually were too timid to risk a stranger's wrath. So we would just hang out in the balcony, choosing targets and having fun but seldom ever firing. Diwali would involve bursting crackers with my same-age cousin brother. We didn't burst the bigger, louder kind of crackers, but our respective sisters still always cowered in a corner with fingers tightly plugged into their ears. This would be followed by a family dinner and sometimes a card party. Those were the best days of my life, indeed.
But now the times have changed. Completely.
Kids watch Ben-10, Phineas and Ferb and Sesame Street. Holidays homework is commissioned to professionals in exchange for what I deem to be an obscene amount of money. Kids seldom even know what lies in their homework books. They have coaching classes for every single subject, right from class I.
Come April Fools' Day and the internet serves up a zillion different choices of ways for people to fool other people. No need to use your grey cells and come up with ingenious ideas yourself. What will Google do if we started applying our own brains? Same goes for everything else. You want anything, right from the lyrics of a song to the song itself or even whole movies in different qualities of print, and you will find it on the www. Life seems easy, right? Alas, it was easier back then. And simpler.
Weekends now mean lazing around at home, sleeping in, watching award shows and movies on huge LCDs, and ordering in food. Weekend family outings are becoming a rarity. We tend to hang out with our friends more. We see much less of our cousins living in the same house now. But I still crave for those outings with Mom and Dad. I still get all excited at the idea of an outdoor trip with my family like olden times. Festivals are celebrated at my place with much less fervour than before. Yet, we try to have as much fun with each other as we can on such days.
I sometimes wonder if it is just I who is so trapped inside her happy bubble that she isn't comfortable conforming to the changes happening around her. Or has the world become too different a place for a person like me to have a satisfactory existence? I do not have the answers. But I miss those days...a lot.
P.S. This post was posted after zero editing. It went up as it came. And all through the process, the one song that was playing in my mind was Bryan Adams' Summer of 69.