I got this as a forward and thought that it was a wonderful account of growing up in India and would apply as much to us 80’s kids. It has a distinct nostalgic tone and must have been written by an NRI.
This is dedicated to the wonderful kids who were born in India and survived the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
First, we survived being born to mothers, some, whose husbands smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate whatever food was the put on table, and didn’t get tested for diabetes. They were mothers who did not check their blood pressure every few minutes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs and bassinets were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints. We were put in prams and sent out with ayahs to meet other children with ayahs, whilst our parents were busy. We cried, were picked up and cuddled by the ayahs and were quiet again.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking or going out on our own. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags. We sat on each other’s laps for God’s sake. Riding in the back of a station wagon on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. We would share a dosa, dip a chapatti into someone else’s plate of curry without batting an eyelid. We ate jam sandwiches or pickle on bread and butter, raw mangoes with salt that set our teeth on edge, and drank orange squash with sugar and water in it. We ate at roadside stalls, drank water from tender coconuts, ate everything that was bad for us from mumfalees to Bhel
Puri to bhajias and samosas, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING! There was never a child – not one single child – who was obese! We would leave home in the morning and play all day during the holidays, we were never ever bored, and we were allowed freedom all day as long as we were back when the streetlights came on, or when our parents told us to do so. No one was able to reach us all day by mobile phone or phone. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours making paper kites, building things out of scraps with old pram wheels or cycle rims, inventing our own games, playing traditional games called hide and seek, kick the can and rounders, ride old cycles and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We swam with an inflated tube which we got from somebody who was replacing their car tyres. We ran barefoot without thinking about it, if we got cut we used iodine on it which made us jump. We did not wash our hands ten times a day. And we were OK. Our parents trusted us to go on picnics with everyone and anyone, a friend of a friend would be OK and we survived. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no I-Pods, no internet or internet chat rooms, no TV, full stop.
We did not have parents who said things like “What would you like for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” We ate what was put in front of us and best of all , there was never any leftovers. We polished the lot. WE HAD FRIENDS, great friends, whose parents we called Uncle and Aunty, and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees numerous times, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no compensation claims from these accidents. We ate fruit lying on the ground that we shook down from the tree above. And we never washed fruit. We had a bath using a bucket and mug and used Lifebuoy soap. We did not know what conditioners meant.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode cycles everywhere and someone sat on the carrier or across the bar to school or the pictures not cinema, or you walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
Not everyone made it into the teams we wanted to. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL! Those were the days!!