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Sunday 21 December 2014
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Those good old days...

Heera Nawaz

Reflections

Children now are street smart, shrewd, sharp and clever. They do not bear vestiges of naivete, simplicity and innocence, like it was in the days of yore when we children were basically untouched by all the viles and duplicity in the crassly and grossly wicked world.

Indeed, there is a vast dichotomy between the children of today and what it was when we were children in the 1970s and 1980s. With Children’s Day (on 14th November) being just around the corner, I discerned that it would be interesting to compare the two generations of childhood.

Bangalore had a reputation for being an air-conditioned city full of parks and palaces, and one of great environmental beauty. When we came from school, we drank huge glasses of Complan (which was the secret of our energy) and sat at our study tables to complete our homework, done independently and conscientiously, so that we did not need tuitions.
We would visit public libraries to spend our time in reading Lotus Learning books and the maroon, richly-bound Encyclopaedia Brittanica. If someone had told us then that there would be, 20 years hence, methods of researching where one only need type a specific word in the computer’s Google.com and one would be accosted with a minimum of 10,000 pages of information in a fraction of a second, we probably would never have believed it!
Call me daft or old fashioned, I still prefer our long-winded methods which helped us to remember what we read without us having to resort to modern day shortcuts.

Though we studied diligently, we were aware that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl,” so we did have our share of unwinding and relaxation when we finished our homework. And what were these methods? We were aware that exercising was good, for it released ‘feel good’ endorphins that made us dog-tired yet refreshed, so we played energetic and vigorous games like ‘hopping and catching’, badminton and kabbadi. Due to this, we did not need to hit the gym!

As kids in the growing-up years in Bangalore, entertainment had been clean and enjoyable and devoid of negative epithets, like too much of violence, crime, crass item numbers and double entendre jokes. There was no TV then, with its violent and lusty serials to corrupt us in its all-encompassing thrall as of now, but instead, we were lucky to be amidst a volley of sheer, delightful talent and entertainment. Who can forget the days of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Gregory Peck, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood? Who cannot instinctively love the brand of humour of Lucille Ball, Barbara Streisand, Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep?

TV came later, so for songs and music, we had to make do with the evergreen radio. But it wasn’t too bad. We had our share of Boney M, the Osmonds, and the Carpenters. We loved and lived for the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Simon and Garfunkel. In those days of “telling tales and biting nails,” when our innocence and naivete were still intact, we were still drawn by rhythmic radio songs with good beats and real words to them.

Of course, we didn’t have the allure of the Harry Potter and the Muggles created by the genius of J K Rowling, but we did have a lot going for us in terms of books and literature. I mean, who can ever forget the Nancy Drew series, the Billy and Bessie Bunters and the immortal Enid Blyton books of Malory Towers and St. Clares? Who can forget the Phantom and Mandrake comics, the mischievous capers of Dennis the Menace and the unique Charlie Brown and Snoopy?

So, now, life has turned full circle. Life is a lot more comfortable and luxurious with its mobile phones and all its apps, the television with its reality shows and enticing advertisements, the video games that are growing more and more competitive and the social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, which promise more and more virtual “friends.”

Life is a lot more relaxing for kids and though they have more facilities and gizmos like iPads, iPods, touch screens and Blackberrys, is this scenario better, more ethical and more enriching? No, I think, “those good old days” take the cake. However, unfortunately, it is impossible to turn back time. Happy Children’s Day!


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