REVERT TO THE RETRO WORLD

Being a 90’s kid, I am fortunate enough to have spent those incredible times in the past. Now as I walk down the memory lane, I wish I could encounter a time machine to travel to those memorable days over and above. The topic “Nostalgia” has taken hold of back to that era.

There are lots of points to talk over on this particular matter. The most salient points which trigger my mind are:

  1. Telephone – Yes you heard it right, it’s telephone. Back in that decade we used to have a telephone of various colors which used to consist  of number keys and contained a spiral cord connecting with the receiver. We used to sit or maybe stand at a certain place and then speak with the person calling from the other side.
  2. Black and White Television – Yes, the black and white television used to add color to our life. Watching songs, movies, and other stuff in ‘Doordarshan’ with family was the best source of entertainment of our times. Staying away from my parents in a distant land made my heart full of nostalgia.
  3. Greeting cards – Yes, greeting cards. Do you remember creating hand-crafted greeting cards for birthdays, Christmas, new year, and so on used to feel so special? Nowadays, delivering a short message cannot be as special as it used to be. We felt joy in collecting and counting the number of cards each and every year.
  4. Playing Ludo : Don’t you find it boring to play Ludo on a smartphone? If you ask me then, oh definitely. I would love to play ludo manually instead. It’s so much fun looking at the expressions of everyone while playing. 

What to count and what not to. There are several points that are approaching my mind. Going to schools and tuition to study used to be far more fascinating than studying online. Going outdoors and playing any kind of sports was much more fascinating than playing PUBG. Buying cassettes to listen to songs on the radio used to feel so captivating. It sounds like such an interesting time. Isn’t it? 

“It’s not about old vs new, it’s about which feels better.”

I wish I could revert back to the retro world and start living once again.

A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

Do you know what it is like being a 90’s born kid?

If you think it is boring, then you certainly do not know what it meant to be a child back then. I was born in 1995 and trust me I have seen so many wonderful things during my childhood, that today’s kids will never get to witness. Right from some cool cartoon shows to Treat JimJam biscuits, 90’s kids had the best childhood days.

We were literally the kids who saw the world transition from cable landline telephones to high-tech mobile phones. You know, at home we had that rectangular landline telephone with number pads and a spiral cord connecting the receiver.

And back then, we didn’t roam around while speaking on the telephone. We used to either sit or stand at a place and then speak to the person on the other side. I still miss having a landline phone.

These days, we have several online food delivery services to deliver scrumptious food at our doorsteps. However, during those days, there were no such services. Still, we enjoyed relishing our food. Every Sunday morning, my uncle used to take me and my cousins to the eatery shop in the nearby market to buy kachori and chutney. In the evening, one of the family members was chosen to bring hot samosas and gulab jamun.

Back in the day, we didn’t have social media platforms to share memes and update our whereabouts. Children would look forward to playing with other kids in our society and sharing the highlights of the day. I remember, from 2000-2005 whenever there was a power cut, we used to sit outside our houses along with neighbors and tell stories to each other. Children would recite poems, play around or listen to the radio.

Every Sunday morning, my cousins and I used to watch MAD, a show on the POGO channel in which we learned various crafts skills. On Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed watching Baby Looney Toons, one of my favorite cartoon shows. It is not just cartoon shows that excited us, there were so many TV serials that made our day. Shararat, Son Pari, Shaka Laka Boom Boom, Mum Tum N Hum, Hum Paanch, and Tu Tu Main Main – really kept us glued to the TV. Those were the days when TV had lots of content to cater to the audience.

In fact, there were so many chocolates and toffees that we used to have. Now I can hardly find them. Even if I find some of them, they either no longer have the same taste or come with some different packaging or names.

If I sit and count…. then the list won’t end as the box of memories is never-ending

Once you open the memory box, you won’t feel like closing it. Some memories make us lively and remind us that even though things have changed, there was a time when we were happy and lived life to the fullest. Perhaps, therefore, we often cherish our memories. Every time I look back to those golden days, I wish to relive those days once again.

MY 90s TREASURE TROVE

As my parents were relocating, I went to my home, early this year, to help them segregate the things that would go with them and the things that needed to be disposed of. For my sons, it became an adventure trip as there were a lot of things that they were seeing or feeling for the first time. 

“In sabka kya karna hai” (What to do with these), My mom asked me, pointing towards a cassette player. When I was in Class X, my dad gifted me a BPL portable Stereo (which had radio and a recorder too), just after finishing my boards. It was now lying in a pool of audio cassettes. 

“Mumma, what’s this? And what are these?” My kids shouted in unison, as they enquired about the cassette player and the pile of cassettes.

I explained them what the cassettes were and demonstrated them how they worked. “I doubt if it still works”, I said as I took one of the cassettes and inserted into the player and pushed in the ‘play’ button. Viola! It worked. This time, it played well, without even cleaning the ‘head’. As an old song was being played, my sons were watching inside the stereo. “Oh! These wheels are moving”, exclaimed my elder son, pointed to the reels of the cassette. I laughed at their amazement and felt lucky too as they experienced a new gadget, which was very different from their Alexa!

My heart was filled with nostalgia as I looked at those cassettes, some belonged to my parents, who used to listen to 60s songs, rest belonged to my brother and me. Some were gifted, some were recorded, yet they were kept safely. After Grade 7 or 8, birthday gifts meant for us were audio cassettes and an Archies card. Ah! Visiting an Archies gallery was like a weekend getaway for us. We used to buy 3-4 cards in advance for the upcoming birthdays of friends and family members.

There was a packet full of cards and letters, along with a few chocolate wrappers. As I showed the inland letters and postcards to my 9-year-old, he was so excited that he wrote a letter to his friend. Though he wanted a postcard, he settled for an envelope one after knowing the fact that postcards aren’t functional anymore.

Chocolate wrappers were my collectibles, I used to keep the special editions ones and gifted ones. Remember the special Perk edition which gave free denim tattoos? I even got them on my pair of jeans! It was fun.

There was one notepad also which had quotes like- “Maggi clubbers are hooked on adventure”, “Maggi clubbers are hooked for fun”. Yes, I was a privileged Maggi clubber. It was easy to get a free membership and free gifts as it required only 5 wrappers of Maggi noodles each. I got various board games, a jumping time-table, a snapping wrist band and a lot more. This notepad is still with me.

Every time I open my treasure trove, I cherish these mementos and recall those golden wonderful years. I am happy that I have a lot to show my kids, rather than just to tell.

Preeta’s Collection

SPARE ME THE DRAMA!!!

This week’s topic – Nostalgia and here I go – “Humaare Zamaane Mein” (in our times). Raising my daughter in a foreign land, in an environment completely alien to me, handling her tantrums over the type of shoes, clothes, accessories, parties, and a whole range of girly, kids stuff is quite an exercise. And I have unintentionally started quoting lines like “in our childhood”, “had it been my mother”, “we never threw such tantrums”, “we never had so many choices” and my daughter be like “stop it, Mom, blah blah blah”. I believe she has heard this “in our times” rant quite more often these days. But can’t help it, falling to the human tendency of comparing what’s in hand with what has elapsed.

Stepping out of my parenting shoes, as a person I really get nostalgic about the 90s TV shows. Surfing on YouTube, coming across various roast channels roasting TV serials, including reality shows it evokes a sense of nostalgia. We witnessed epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana that used to bring households under one roof and glue to the Television screens; women-centric and progressive programs like Shanti, Aarohan; informative gems like Surabhi; half-an-hour window of movie songs featured every Wednesday & Friday; Sundays were meant to be blocked for kids to be entertained by Disney characters; meaningful cinema that included regional movies as well. In short, we were served a complete package of entertainment, information, and knowledge by the two state-owned television channels. From there we have come a long way to something gross like”Rasode mein kaun tha” (who was in the kitchen). With a plethora of channels as compared to the famous (rather favorite) 90s, quantity has overridden the quality. No matter whatever channel we choose to switch, change is limited to the titles of the soaps aired but the format of everyone scheming against everyone, excessively regressive content, one central character whose role is to endure, endure and endure even more pain and the jarring background music coupled with every reaction frame is on default mode. And the less I speak about the dump of reality shows the better off I would be. To be precise we moved ahead in our calendar but marched back in times as far as our television content is concerned.

Nostalgia really stings me even when I view news channels especially portals and mediums concerning the Indian context. DD era which I would like to refer to as the 90s was the time when news had a particular time slot and what mattered was to highlight the important issues rather than sensationalism like what we have now. The type of journalism that is happening today is giving an impression to the rest of the world that India is all about communal tensions. Omission of facts from past, repeated recital of few selected unfortunate incidents connecting them to every incident, irrelevant illogical high pitched debates with more participants than the viewers themselves, branding of victims and culprits as per convenience or complete silence on matters that don’t fetch business is particularly what the media is into.  Here only the numbers and competition matters.  To cut it short – Media today is biased and here I refer to both the poles of polarisation. The 24×7 nature of news channels is only doing harm by prompting to generate news instead of reporting the same. The need to churn news anyhow is the reason why we see everything categorized as news – from the case of lost pet of a celebrity to how a minister prefers his/ her food, and not to forget the brigade of advertisements shouting at us – BUY, BUY, BUY. Objectivity is subjected to agendas and personal/ political objectives. Excuse me for ranting again but DD Era was the peaceful one.

What went wrong? The amount of junk we have been fed over the years has actually reversed our intellectual evolution, or say for the majority. When introduced it attracted masses that was viewed for relaxation. But just as any addiction grows on a person, time and again interface with the same content over different channels registered itself in the mind as a guilty pleasure – we watch, we bash and we watch to bash but watch it. And this has tapped the market for the makers, and when numbers pour in, it’s enough motivation for the production of more such content. And for more Nostalgia rant!!!

Crazy Indian family, lost watching their daily TV soap even when their house is flooded with water.

ERUPT – XIV

Yes, I did just that but you know it had a manifold effect on Jay. He turned from riches to rags in no time. The humiliation he received on national television, the way the media stripped his character and the way he was kicked out by his own political party had a deep impact on him. He was nothing more than a wretched man. And you know there can never be a punishment bigger than having to plead and seek help and ask for forgiveness from someone who was once a puppet in your hands.” Reeta replied beaming with pride.

Do you mean you helped Jay? Are you still in contact with him?” Asked Nidhi with squinted eyes. There was a look of surprise on the face of everyone present in the room except Rex because he was aware of what Reeta had done really. He pitched in to explain to the audience.

Reeta not only forgive him but also gave him a new lease of life. After all that happened with Jay as an aftermath of Reeta unveiled the true face of his, he became very vulnerable. There was no place he could go and there was no alliance he could turn to. Everyone treated him like a piece of dirt. His political support was backed out, he did not receive any favors in cash or kind and soon he was left unemployed. He couldn’t come to terms with the turn of events and he took to alcohol. Needless to say he used to breathe, sleep and wear alcohol. Newspapers reported him to be found on streets of Mumbai in a semi conscious state because of over consumption of alcohol.”

Everyone in the room were listening to Rex’s narration intently.

Reeta chipped in and continued further. “One night Jay called me. He was under the influence of alcohol. He first started swearing at me and blamed me for his condition. Well, I was indeed responsible for it but I did not regret it even a bit. I was calmly hearing him out. Some how I was confident that he cannot harm me any further. He continued spitting venom for some more time and then suddenly be broke down. He started crying like a helpless child wandering on a lost road. He asked for my forgiveness. He said he wanted to change. He said he wanted to live a decent life again and asked if I could help him and suddenly he passed out. Having lived with this man for 15 years, I could sense that there was a streak of truth in what he just said. I used my contacts and networking and found out more about him. It turned out that he was actually telling the truth that day. So I decided to do my bit and got him admission to the rehab center so he has a shelter and gets a square meal a day and also frees himself from the shackles of alcoholism.

Slowly the crowd started clapping and applauding. A girl stood up and questioned Reeta, “What are you made up of ma’am! You have a heart of gold!”

Somewhere in Mumbai

Jay returned to his cottage after a hard day’s work. He cooked for himself a humble meal of daal rice. Ever since he returned from the rehab center he was a changed man. He lived a simple life. To earn a living he served at an old age home through the day. His routine would never deviate from his cottage and old age home and there was no element of any change or excitement what so ever. But today it was different. He couldn’t contain his excitement today because he had received a letter from Reeta in the morning. The chores at the old age home kept him so busy that he couldn’t even think of reading the letter then but now that he was home and done with dinner he couldn’t wait any more.

With trembling hands heart filled with love and respect he opened the letter…

Hi Jay,

Hope you are doing better now. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you as a changed man. I am proud of you Jay, it’s not easy to take the wrong path and find the right one again but you made it happen. I know your hands were trembling when you opened this letter and I know you will not sleep for nights together after you read this letter. I just know you well, after all, a woman knows her man like a sailor knows the sea!

Well, my secretary told me that you wanted to talk to me by meeting me in person. I am sorry Jay, I will not meet you. Not that I don’t have time but because I can’t spend even a second more with you than what I already have. I can read your mind Jay, I know you want to talk me in to getting back and starting a new life together but I am sorry Jay I can’t do that. That Reeta is dead long time ago. I am a fiercely independent woman now. The toughest time of my life curated me in to the best version of myself and I want the same should happen to you. Be the best version of yourself Jay, you don’t need anyone for that. There is a long way to go Jay. Continue to serve the elderly people and collect their blessings. That way you may feel little better from the torments of wrongs that you have committed. Apologies and regrets will fetch you nothing.

Stop thinking about how our life was together – good or bad. That is not going to help because now you are on your own. Think about how you want to channelize the energy and effort to make yourself competent enough to live rest of the life decently. Having said that, feel free to contact my organization for any kind of help if need be. We shall continue making fixed deposits in your name which you can redeem by presenting work certificate and salary slips. This will shield you from financial crisis if at all they arise in future.

Wishing you all the best.

Your’s truly,

Reeta
Founder of Shelter of Justice

 

THE END

ERUPT – XIII

Everyone in the hall were quiet and were listening attentively to Reeta when they were interrupted.

Ma’am, there’s a man who has come to meet you, but I asked him to wait outside in the waiting hall,” Ambika, Reeta’s secretary came to the meeting hall and informed her.

Does he have a name, Ambika?” Reeta asked with her eyes squinted.

Sorry Ma’am, his name is Rex, that’s what he said.” Ambika said.

Oh, Rex!” Reeta’s face lighted up as soon as she heard the name. She looked at the group of women she was talking to and said excitedly, “Speak of the devil and devil is here… You guys are so fortunate to meet the real man about whom I was telling you all… the man who rescued me when I was lying unconscious on the sea beach, you remember.” All the women giggled listening about the rescuer and were curious to see him as Reeta went out to meet and welcome Rex to the rehab room.

Reeta hugged Rex with joy of meeting him after so many years. It had been already 7 years from the time of their first meeting on the beach and after 5 years since they had met each other last. Reeta was always in touch with Rex as she had no one to support her. She struggled so much, running from pillar to post to stand on her feet. They could not speak much with each other at that particular time as Reeta was in her class with those victimized group of women who were rescued and given shelter at Shelter of Justice, an organisation founded and owned by her. 

All of them were eagerly waiting to listen to the latter part of Reeta’s story and to see Rex, a kind man, in their own eyes. Reeta walked in to the hall along with Rex introducing him while all others clapped and welcomed him. Rex acknowledged the respect he received and took his seat beside her as she started to speak.

Now I can continue with my life’s story while enjoying the presence of this great man. Guess what? I am feeling nervous now…” She said laughing while all others giggled as well.

Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Reeta as she went down her memory lane…

I was overwhelmed with emotions because of the life changing incidents that had been happening in my life for last couple of days. Though I heard Rex’s sorrowful stories,I had no patience to understand his pain at that particular time. But I was sure what I should be doing and what I was planning that night. I thanked Rex for everything that he had done for me and being my support for sometime and walked out of his house. Rex asked me to stay back at her place instead of going here and there at that hour of the night but I didn’t want that he should be attacked or harassed for my sake. That’s the reason why I just took his phone number before walking away from him. 

I didn’t know where to go as I was walking on the sands in the darkness while the moon beam shined over me with the silent sea seeming to be apathetic towards my plight. Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I walked as if there was no strength in my feet but I just dragged them to move ahead to an aimless journey of my life. I had a bag and some money with me which I had arranged before walking out of the house The Kapoor Mansion forever.  

Reeta was in tears and wiping it while narrating her condition of that dreadful night. The women surrounding her were in tears too. Rex was quiet and was happy to see a new Reeta in front of him who had grown up to be a leader and rescuer herself. 

Reeta gathered herself again to tell the tale further…

That night I went straight to the train station and took a train for Kolkata, knowing that it would be a cheaper place to live in and far away from the reach of that monster. If he was in the west, I was heading towards the east. It was a mindset that I will simply go in the opposite direction from him. My life in Kolkata was never safe even if I came here far from and on the opposite direction of where Jay was but I had that wish to fight and stand on my own to show to the world around me that, ‘No one can oppress me, living with dignity is my right as it is for any other human created by the same God.’ 

I had been mistreated, misbehaved with, misinterpreted, misunderstood yet no one could suppress me or oppress me anymore. It was this man, Rex, who never left me… He used to call me twice a day, once in the morning when I used to go out searching for a job or earning and once in the night before I sleep. I started working in different houses as a babysitter. That was the safest work that I found at that particular time as I needed a place to stay as well instead of on the road along with the street beggars. I helped everyone that I met on my way, who were oppressed and suppressed by others and I kept making friends along the way. 

I started teaching the kids on the street while I babysat and soon drew attention of those who were sold out for these causes. I was appointed as a social worker as I had my education backing me. And this man was the happiest when I told him that I got a job, a respectful job. 

Reeta smiled looking at Rex as he bowed his head down, acknowledging her praises. 

And here, you all see me, your Reeta… Reeta Didi, Reeta Ma’am whatever you call me today. I could found this shelter because of this friend of mine who gave me shelter seven years ago amidst all the odds. Do you all know? This man was harassed even after I took the precaution of not being associated with him. That monster, Jay, forced him and humiliated him to know where I have gone. He tolerated everything for me as a good friend and didn’t open his mouth.” Reeta spoke while clasping her hand with Rex’s with gratitude. 

That day’s talk was about to be over with Reeta’s long and dreadful story. The women were so encouraged to hear her story. Rex was happy to see that vulnerable woman lying on the beach whom he rescued once, is a powerhouse now for all others. But there was one young girl who was raped by her colleagues who was not looking very happy and satisfied. Although all of them were still more or less in traumatic state and trying to recover slowly.

What happened dear Nidhi? Do you need anything my child?” Reeta asked looking at her attentively.

How could you just leave that monster to live so happily? You left him by just ruining his career? Did he deserve only that much, not more than that?” Nidhi responded posing these questions.

Reeta smiled looking at her, she could understand the cause of Nidhi’s anger for Jay, for all those monsters. And it was her responsibility to make the young mind understand how to deal with those emotions…

ERUPT – XII

“Wh . . . What are you doing here and at this time?,” blurted out Rex with a bewildered voice as he opened the door for Reeta to step in. He hadn’t imagined in his wildest dreams to see her again in his cottage. As she stepped in, he peeped out behind her to make sure she hadn’t got any reporters with her.

“I came to thank you,” said Reeta with a crisp voice, devoid of any emotion. “I can see that just like everyone else, you have watched it too,” she continued to say glancing towards the television which was still ON.

“I’ll fix you some coffee. Please have a seat and make yourself comfortable,” said Rex showing his hand towards the same chairs where she had sat watching the waves and sipping ginger tea, the day he had brought her to his cottage first.

As Rex proceeded to his coffee maker, he couldn’t make much sense of Reeta’s visit.

‘After all that she has told the public, she probably can’t ever go back to her house. Does she want shelter here? I have to be careful. These high profile people can change colours any time. Or is she here to make me fall for her? She has an emotional vaccuum within her now and after all that she has told about feeling safe here, she may be looking to win my sympathy. Help me God! What do I do? How can I be of help to her without inviting trouble for myself?,’ Rex muttered to himself as he fixed two cups of coffee.

The sea was calm that night, symbolizing the uncanny calmness that Reeta felt within her. She sat in the same chair. But, there was no view of the sea as it was a dark moonless night. Two days before, she had been in the same place. The sea was rough and noisy then, and so was her heart within. Her life had seemed to be crashing again and again as were the waves on the shore that day. Today however, everything was different. The sea was calm and so was her heart within. Probably, the sea was acknowledging her feelings and reflecting them.

“Here you go, Reeta, if I may call you so, now that I know your name,” said Rex with a wink placing a tall mug of coffee before her. “By the way, you said some good things about me while answering to that reporter. I appreciate your kind words. Umm…mmm…let me share a slice of my life with you,” he continued without giving her any opportunity to speak. He was determined not to give any space for her to leap into his life.

“You know why I picked you up from the sandy beach that night? Well, of course, you know! I had told you,” said Rex with a laugh and a wave of his hand as emotions visibly swelled within him. “But, there’s more to it. Fifteen years ago, my sister . . . my only sweet younger sister . . . was swept away by the waves into the bottomless sea. It was a winter afternoon and she was lying lazily on the sea beach when a huge sudden wave swept across and pulled her in, along with the flow of current. No one could save her. It happened so quickly. I was right here inside this cottage and ran out on hearing the cries of people only to find her scarf nestled on a nearby rock. There was no sight of her. Perhaps, the scarf was her good-bye gift to me!,” sighed Rex wiping off the tears that streamed down his cheeks.

“Her name was Riva. She was twenty, then. And when I saw you that morning lying unguarded and unconscious, I felt a compelling urge not to let some sudden wave sweep you off without your knowledge. Another brother should not lose a sister, was what occurred to my mind instantly,” said Rex raising his voice suddenly.

“Of course, I don’t know if you have a brother. But if you have, I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you alive,” said Rex blowing his nose into a tissue.

Reeta sat motionless letting every word of Rex sink in. She had finished her coffee and had placed the cup on the table, this time carefully. Rex’s words seemed like a fairy tale to her. She had never witnessed such love, an orphan that she was!

“Remember, the mug that crashed to pieces that day when you were here?,” asked Rex with a sudden tinkle in his voice. “That belonged to Mary, my late wife. A pretty petite cheerful woman she was! We were married for twelve wonderful years. Three years back she developed a rare skin infection. I never thought a skin infection could take life. But, it did. It has been two years since my Mary left me. I loved Mary and so it never occurred to me to look at you with lust when I held you in my arms and brought you in, even though you were unaware of yourself that day. I have sealed my loyalty to Mary before God and that holds true to me to this day, even with her being gone to a land of no-return,” said Rex with sadness in his voice.

“Mary and I used to sit by the window and sip hot chocolate every evening. That mug reminded me of Mary’s presence in my life. When that mug crashed, I felt that I had failed her. I could do nothing to save her from death. And, I could do nothing to prevent her memory from crashing. But, don’t be mistaken. I haven’t pushed her away from me,” Rex got up from the chair saying this and went to the kitchen. He pulled open a drawer and took out a clear bag from it. He went to Reeta and held it up for her to see.

There was that golden mug, broken, but neatly joined together with the cracks clearly visible!