Wednesday, September 30, 2009

City Of A Thousand Dreams | Jayabrato Chatterjee

What is it about Kolkata that evokes the strongest reactions from visitors and residents? The traditional view of the sahibs through the nineteenth century has been one of cynicism. Currently, as far as the media in the west is concerned, everything in Kolkata is wrapped up in controversy.

Cunning black and white photographs in Western newspapers of pot-bellied and disheveled children begging off the main thoroughfares, emancipated pavement dwellers, cooking and defecating in close proximity, under-nourished sex-workers with garish make-up loitering under hazy street lights, lepers begging outside posh hotel facades and old people withering away on park benches are some time-tested and sure-shot 'hits' that have kept tongues wagging. (I often wonder what sort of perverts actually click such photographs and why? Maybe Circuit in Munnabhai MBBS had a point, y'know! Would they like it if people would click their photographs as they did their morning business or cooked or spent time with their family? The biggest loss of the poor is their right to privacy...) Wives of American Presidents, Hollywood stars and British royalty have made brief stopovers to lend their sympathy - one eye on the paparazzi's popping flashbulbs and the other cast shrewdly over their spaghetti-strapped shoulders to ensure that their entourage is taking copious notes for future press conferences. City of Joy, City of Nightmares, City of Dreadful Nights, City of Love - kolkata is anointed every day with an epithet that keeps the controversies alive and kicking. Yet, for the citizen, it is often business as usual on any given day. By and large, Kolkata finds the labels attached to it amusing and irritating by turns.

Satyajit Ray (see picture below - right) , the city's most celebrated film personality had once said that, "I don't feel very creative when I'm abroad somehow. I need to be in my chair in Calcutta!" Perhaps a little more emotionally, another eminents film director, Mrinal Sen (see picture below - left), has called Kolkata his 'Eldorado'. However, the common man takes the city for granted, just as you would your family and those you love and trust. (For me it's just home...)

Kolkata is unashamedly young. It was even supposed to have a conclusive birthday till the ruling authorities summarily stopped it from blowing out the candles on its annual anniversary cake. August 24, 1690 was acknowledged as the day when an English adventurer, Job Charnock, formally founded the city. Today, a little lost, Kolkata operates on many levels. A delicious millefeuille, rich in content and multi-layered, it needs the bite of a true Braveheart who is not embarrassed to let the jam and the cream dribble down his shirtfront. For me, the city hasall the advantages and disadvantages of any metro, anywhere in the world. I have seen unmarried girls openly beg with their babies in their arms just outside the Russel Square Underground Station in London. Old and bent bag ladies are part of the New York landscape, along with horror stories of violence and crime. Crowded shanties and dirty streets are part of Hong Kong's innate character. East European beggars infest the sidewalks in Paris. Rome is famous for its devastatingly good-looking pickpockets. And whores solicit openly, driving past in swanky cars, in Berlin. (I remember giving alms to a beggar at a tube station in London - that guy had talent! He was playing an 18 string electric guitar!)


So what is wrong with Kolkata?

Perhaps it is the images that have stayed in Western minds without people bothering to counter them. (here it West should imply the rest of the country that lies to the west of Calcutta... it is disheartening to see the sheer disdain that even other Indians have for Calcutta! Most people who are transferred here term it as a punishment posting - open your hearts people....) The city is full of contradictions and often operates on extremes. Even the weather is mostly hmid, with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celcius in summer. If you are not used to heavy downpours, the monsoons can be trying, with flooded roads and a sense of chaos. The
autumn months usher the city's biggest festival that venerates the Goddess Durga. Suddenly, the environment is laden with the fragrance of shiuli flowers and joss sticks. The city gets into a veritable Mardi Gras mode and children and adults worship without too much care for caste or creed. (Check my previous post for more about Durga Puja)

Wintertime, of course, is temperate and, by and large, good-natured and indulgent. Memsahibs bring out their best chiffons and jamevars and gossip over lunch. Dilettantes discuss Tagore and Che Guevara. Leftist students debate over the relevance of Chairman Mao. Artists come in droves to display their canvases at the art galleries. The annual book fair keeps the city's writers and a strange breed called 'intellectuals' in a state of perpetual animation. Classical musicians and dancers hold regular soirees. Sahibs hit the golf course from the crack of dawn. Racing regulars fight over their bets and their favourite beasts. And some of the finest partieis of the season are thrown with abandons that keep guests rollicking into the wee hours of chilly December and January mornings.

Physically the city is no beauty. Kolkata is no Suchitra Sen, the metro's very own Great Garbo. (In my opinion, the city is more like Uttam Kumar - the Clark Gable of Calcutta - universally adored and accepted) Yet, if you allow the river Hoogly to entice you on a humid monsoon evening or let some of North Kolkata's old buildings speak to you in the afternoon hush of winter, reliving old tales of gilded butterflies, you would find the exposed bricks or the chipped Portugese wrought iron balconies come alive. And, of course, it is the magic of its people - warm, wonderful and often heartbreakingly romantic - that makes the miraculous difference.

So come, celebrate the spirit of Kolkata with reserve this festive season.

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I came across this beautiful piece in a magazine recently about the city that I shall always call home. This is written by Jayabrato Chatterjee - though I have taken the liberty of adding my two-bits (in italics) - my apologies Mr. Chatterjee. I think Mr. Chatterjee has articulated the magic of Kolkata and dispelled many misplaced myths about our Mahanagri in his article.

Jayabrato Chatterjee is a film-maker, corporate communicator and author. His debut novel Last Train to Innocence won the Hawthornden Fellowship. He was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Stirling, Scotland, in 1999. His films and documentaries have played to international audiences and he is managing editor of Kolkata’s first lifestyle magazine, Inner Eye
(where this article originally appeared). He began his career with the Hindi film Kehkasha. Jayabrato Chatterjee lives in Kolkata. His literary exploits include:
* Last Train to Innocence {1995}
* Beyond All Heavens {2003}
* Kolkata—The Dream City {2004}

Here's the article in its original form - please click on the image to zoom in...


Tradition Rules

I still have a major Puja hangover and here's some more Puja related stuff... Remember, I had talked about the traditional Durga Pujas in my earlier post Ma Aschen... ? Well, according Promita Mukherjee in The Telegraph - Graphiti on Nabami, 27th October 2009, some of Calcutta’s old, bonedi families have special signature touches for their Pujas... Watch out for the part on the "Basumallick Bari, Pataldanga" - that's my cousin Sunny's Mamar Bari! This is the one I was talking about in my post where I written "My third cousins – Bublaida and Tublaida – also have a traditional Puja in the courtyard of their ancestral home in Potoldanga in North Calcutta. I remember visiting their Puja as a child and being taken aback by the buzz and sheer activity." - Read on and enjoy!

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Celebrating the goddess has been their passion for hundreds of years. Calcutta’s old families — once ranked at the top of the city’s social order — have converted the rituals associated with wooing the goddess into a fine art. In times when there were no baroari (community) pujos they came to be known for their opulence and extravagance as they gave the Pujas their signature touches — which they have preserved even today.

Each generation passed on the baton to the next. And despite financial constraints, the families have adhered to these rites. Little wonder then, that thousands of devotees flock to catch a glimpse of the families and their rituals that were once the talking point of the town.

Ghoshbari, Ghosh Lane, off Vivekananda Road
Sandhipuja may be the norm for a majority of Calcuttans on Ashtami, but not for the Ghose household in Ghosh Lane off Vivekananda Road. Instead of offering Sandhipuja prayers, the family — that’s celebrating its 154th year of Puja this year — gathers for Kalyani Puja in the morning and evening. This tradition was started by the family patriarch Girish Chandra Ghose. The story goes that on this day Ghose’s guru died during Sandhipuja. “Ever since, the practice of Sandhipuja was discontinued and Kalyani Puja is held to seek the blessings of the goddess,” says Arkaprovo Ghose, a seventh-generation member of the family.

Dawnbari, Darjipara
If you visit Jagannath Ghat in Baghbazar on a Saptami morning to witness the Nabapatrika Snan (bathing), you’d be greeted by a quaint sight. Don’t be surprised if you come across a procession carrying Kalabou (considered by some as Lord Ganesha’s wife) under an opulent velvet umbrella that’s embellished with gold jari-work. “This is the Dashavatar umbrella that’s been part of the Dawn family Puja since its inception in 1840,” says Asim Dawn, the family head.

(From Top) The goddess takes the Abhaya form in the Laha family Puja;
This ornate Dashavatar umbrella is an unique feature of the Dawn family Puja;
(Pix by Shubha Bhattacharjee)


Khelat Ghosh’s House, Pathuriaghata
Here, the Nabapatrika Snan ritual is held at the family natmandir and not by the Ganges, as is the usual practice. “This ritual is always held at home because the women in our family never ventured out in the past. Though times have changed, we have retained the tradition,” says Pradip Ghosh, head of the family.

The family also uniquely worships Lakshmi and Saraswati as Kamala and Kamini — two other forms of Durga. During Ashtami, a math (sweetmeat) made of matha chini (a kind of sugar made in Varanasi) is symbolically sacrificed.

Duttabari, Hatkhola
This Puja, that dates back to 1794, does a lot of things differently. The sari that the idol wears is not a real sari and Kartik is dressed like soldier in uniform.

“The clay is first given the drape of a sari and the jewellery too is created with clay and then painted upon,” says Somnath Dutta, a member of the family. Another interesting feature of this Puja is the khirer putul (a doll made of thickened milk), about 6-in to 10-in high, is sacrificed as a symbolic gesture.

Lahabari At the Laha family Puja, which is conducted over three ancestral family homes in different parts of north Calcutta, the goddess takes the Shivadurga avatar or the Abhaya form. This is perhaps the only idol of its kind in all of Calcutta. In this 187-year-old Puja, the goddess is seen seated on Shiva’s lap and the bhog consists only of sweets all of which have been prepared at home.

(From top) The Nabapatrika Snan is observed at the Basumallick home;
At Hatkhola Duttabari the jewellery and the clothing of the goddess is made of clay;
The ekchala idol in Darjipara Mitrabari is placed on a throne;
(Pix by Gautam Basumallick
)

Basumallick Bari, Pataldanga The lion is perhaps one of the most interesting features of the Puja in the Basumallick home near Sealdah. For, it’s not really a lion and takes the form of an animal that has the body of a horse and the face of a dragon. An explanation is that early idol-makers referred to the description of lion in Chandimangal and gave the majestic creature their imaginative touch.

“Another interesting ritual of our house is the kadamati khela in which men (from the family and visitors) participate after the symbolic sacrifice. They play with clay and mud and dance to the beat of dhaak — to commemorate the triumph of the gods over the demons,” says Ashokendra Basumallick, a member of what is considered the sixth generation of the family.

Mitrabari, Darjipara In the Mitra house in Darjipara in north Calcutta, the mandatory 108 lotus flowers for the Puja are replaced with as many aparajita flowers to appease the goddess. While the images of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati have beatific faces, Kartik and Asura are given human faces known as Bangla mukh. What’s more, the idols are placed on a huge throne.

“On Dashami, after the boron, the women in the family take turns to seat themselves on the throne in the hope that they too will imbibe some of the goddess’ strength. For us, Durga is like the daughter of the family,” says Anasuya Biswas, a member of the family.

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Just a small footnote. One of the most famous and traditional Pujas in Calcutta is the one at Bagbazaar (pic above) - The Bagbazaar Sarvojanin (incidentally the first Puja Pandal I visited this year - watch this space for the photos soon!) On Saptami, I met up with Arindam, my friend of 20 years from our school days at Mags (Yes, yes - I know - now we can be called CA's or Certified Alcoholics) - anyway apart from enjoying a good round of drinks while the heavens opened up, in the course of the adda, Arindam revealed that his great-great-great grandfather (Kali Kumar Sarkar) had actually started this Puja in their ancestral house in Bagbazaar before it grew to become a Sarbojanin (or Community) Puja! In fact, from his mother's side too, they have a connection with another famous Puja of North Calcutta - the one at Raja Subodh Mullick Square (his Mama - maternal uncle - is the great grandson of Raja Subodh Mullick)... quite an amazing piece of triva that!

A Divine Tale | Nabaneeta Dev Sen


I. Ma Durga comes to her Baper Bari

As a daughter, I have always loved how Durga appears in public in her full family regalia — a son and a daughter to her right, a son and a daughter to her left, nicely balanced, and a somewhat distant hubby stuck in the background somewhere. It’s so sweet of her to bring her children along to share her unbelievable pampering in her baper bari.

Particularly since these are grown up kids, with successful careers. Each is a deity in his or her own right, they don’t need to tag along with their mom. In fact, they all have their own fan following. Each even has a special day of the year marked for his or her worship.

Ganesh is particularly popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat (thanks to Bal Gangadhar Tilak), on Ganesh Chaturthi and the day of his immersion the traffic in all of Mumbai stands still for hours. On the Bengali New Year’s day he is the hero again. The god of new beginnings is worshipped in every nook and corner, especially in all the stores and markets of Bengal. He appears once again on Deepavali, the north Indian New Year, to bless the north Indian business houses. All this is serious business.

Yet, who knows how divine minds work? Though wise and powerful, the god of success Ganesh may actually envy Kartik who does not have a fraction of his public appeal, but is pampered by uninhibited sexy ladies in the red light areas of Bengal. He is also worshipped by desperate women hoping for a last chance to conceive. A bachelor and a dandy, Kartik is forever showing off his good looks, and that of his beautiful pet, quite unlike his learned brother and his pet. A regular visitor to the red light districts, Kartik is a hot favourite there. Ganesh can never beat him at that.

Then there is Lakshmi, with her insatiable hunger for idolatry. Although worshipped in most Bengali homes every Thursday, she is back right after the family visit, within a week of Bijoya Dashami, to make her own puja collections on the night of the Kojagaree Purnima. She is back again on Deepavali, seeking attention along with Kali in some Bengali homes, and with Ganesh in some “non-Bengali” shops...

Unlike her sister, Saraswati waits till spring to be surrounded by her doting young worshippers.But just as puja hungry as Lakshmi, she collects her dues at three levels on the very same day — in private homes, in schools and colleges, and in eye-catching public pandals.

Quite a mystery, this goddess of learning. Lakshmi has a wifely, domestic look in her nice red sari, and has a powerful consort, who is so busy protecting the universe that he can never accompany his wife. We know that story. She is a familiar case. But Saraswati? A scintillating virgin in lily white, how does she keep herself so youthful and glamourous, instead of looking like the sad spinster that she ought to be? Sitting the whole day — and possibly the whole night — reading, writing, painting and playing the veena all by herself. No consort, no gym, no Yoga, no jogging, no swimming, no beauty parlour, nothing at all, yet so fit and so sexy! How does she do it? Where does her oomph come from?

Well, she is passionate about privacy, and has a great security system. The paparazzi can’t get close. So her personal matters are still secret, and probably not fit for public consumption anyway.

But Ma Durga knows it all. You cannot hide anything from her, mortal or divine. Though the most powerful one — as information is power — she still needs to have her children around to feel at home. To feel like a mother rather than like a warrior, when she comes to visit her own mom in Bengal. She arrives dramatically with the sea-green buffalo demon bravely fighting at her feet, in spite of being attacked by a fierce yellow lion. Neither a daughterly nor a motherly moment, really. So the presence of grown up children have their magical use in a family album, they make even the strangest sight look normal.

Come to think of it, the image of Durga as worshipped in Bengal is indeed rather odd. At one level, it is a peaceful domestic scene on earth, with four kids and their pets accompanying mom; at another, it is an intensely divine scene, with the ferocious 10-armed Devi and her kill, the half-animal half-human demon, and a hungry lion — all inextricably framed together. Hardly the sight to please your mother. Why can’t she just bring the pleasant kids along and leave the bleeding demon behind?

Because there is the Sandhipuja to take care of on the Ashtami night. Where the killing of the demon is celebrated through mantras, drums and bells, and a special Sandhipuja arati is performed with the panchapradip and conch shells. Durga was born precisely for that auspicious moment of victory. So how could she leave the demon behind? It’s his day too!

II. Conversation between mother and daughter

— Hi, Ma! It’s Ashtami tonight, which sari are you going to wear?

— Do I have a choice? I am still wearing whatever the sculptor fellow had wrapped around me way back in Kumortuli.

— Same here! Didi and I are stuck in our red and white uniforms, our hands in fixed positions, mine fitted with a veena and Didi’s with her jhaanpi. We can’t get our hair styled at Habib’s, we have to wear it long and loose for four days and nights at a stretch, no combing, no brushing, no oiling, no shampooing. Perfect for a nightmare of tangles and split-ends.

— Won’t matter, really. I have been doing it for ages, literally, several ages, you know? And so have you! It is this globalisation that has put all this useless tension in your head.

— But Ma, style is important.

— And you have style.

— Our style has gone out of fashion now.

— Your favourite fan Rabindranath once wrote, style never gets outdated, only fashion does.

— Did he? He has written so much, Ma, I can’t keep track. But why did he say that?

— I suppose because fashion is created by others, it keeps changing. Style comes from your personality, it is what you create for yourself, it’s your own thing. Don’t you see, I may not be fashionable, but I do have style?

— So does Dad, riding his bull in his hip-hugging tiger skin, his tangled brown hair in a casual top-knot, so much neater than the Rastafarians, a free flowing river pinned to it, topped by a crescent moon at a rakish angle, snakes coiled round his neck and arms — I quite like his weird style, Ma. No fashion designer can copy it. Dad’s unique. And so cool!

— That’s why he is Debadideb Mahadeb. I had gone through endless trouble to get his attention, you know. But when I got it, I was terrified of those snakes hissing in our bed…

— Are the snakes poisonous?

— I don’t really know, my dear, but it wouldn’t matter to your Dad, with all the drugs he has taken he must be immune to snake poison by now.

— Hush, Ma, first you talk about bed, then about Dad doing drugs… let’s change the topic. I am so glad you got me a swan for a pet, and not an owl. Swans are so graceful, so elegant. I can’t stand owls, Ma. Ugly and pretentious — always flaunting an omniscient look…

— But Lakshmi wanted one, and she is quite attached to it. Some people are owl people you know?

— Trust Didi to have strange tastes.

— And Ganesh wanted the mouse. He caught it himself playing with his trunk when he was a baby, and so was the mouse. In fact it was a teeny-weeny little thing, jumping about, pink and delicate and cute…

— Not any more. It’s brown, fat and creepy.

— Nor is your brother the same, sonamoni. Pink he may still be but not delicate.

— But he is sweet, Ma, with his big tummy and one broken tusk. And he is so smart and wise.

— Smarter than our handsome young man with his fashion statement of a peacock. Once, many years ago, I was playing a game with my sons. I said, whoever circled the earth first would get…

— I know, I know, we all know that one Ma! Straightforward Kartikdada flew round the earth in a jiffy, yet lost the garland, because our clever old fatso knew the Shastras better and circled you instead. You were partial to Ganeshdada, Ma — I think he cheated.

— Where is your Didi, by the way? Haven’t seen her for quite a while…

— You know she can’t sit still, she must be making an unexpected round of the banks, or making the Sensex dance a tandava.

— You don’t like your Didi much, do you?

— Do you think Didi likes me a lot?

— Let’s drop the subject.

— Have you noticed something, Ma? Whenever you are in a fix you drop the subject. I wonder how you take care of the universe? No wonder nothing is functioning on this planet any more with Shakti herself being so weak-kneed…

— Honestly, Saras!

— And may I say something? I beg your pardon, Ma, but I often wonder how you managed to kill the demon. Was it your pet lion that did the trick? Or did the poor demon commit suicide for your sake? Mohini you sure are, Ma, looking not a day older than your daughters and far sexier, wearing your dazzling weapons like ornaments. You can keep people mesmerised, generation after generation, make them bow and pray for five days and nights without even changing your sari once. Call it your style or whatever, it works. Yes, it could kill a demon, I guess…

— Thank you, sonamoni, I am glad you have found an answer. I can hear the owl hooting, your sister can’t be far away, it’s time for us to get ready. Its Ashtami night, Sandhipuja is coming up soon, the drumbeats are changing. I have work to do, give me a few minutes. I need to concentrate.

(Illustrations by Debasish Deb)

I absolutely loved Nabaneeta Dev Sen's story in last Sunday's Graphiti (The Telegraph's Sunday Magazine) and had to share it - especially with those who are not in Calcutta for the Pujos! Here's the scanned copy if you please...





Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ctrl+Z

Remember those 'good old days' (aka the Eighties - yes I am getting old) when we had...

Doordarshan and...

... Doordarshan' s Screensaver!

Malgudi Days

Dekh Bhai Dekh

Ramayan and Mahabharat

Bharath Ek Khoj

Alif Laila

Byomkesh Bakshi

Tehkikaat

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Surabhi : Renuka Sahane and Siddharth

Fauji and Circus were bigger hits than a certain SRK
and then were 'Mungerilal ke hasin sapane', '
Karamchand', 'Nukkad' and 'Vikram Betal'...

Cartoons meant He Man

...and Cricket meant Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.

Hockey was still the national sport

Salma Sultana was still reading news on DD...


... and we watched Turning Point
and The World This Week.

Advertisments were...

Vicco turmeric, Nahin cosmetic
yeh hai Vicco turmeric ayurvedic cream

I'm a Complan Boy(Shahid Kapoor) and I'm a Complan Girl (Ayesha Takia)
Surf ki kharidari mein hi samajhdari hai

Washin powder Nirma, Washing powder Nirma Doodh si safedi, Nirma se aayi Rangeen kapde bhi khil khil jaaye
Truly, the world has changed and we also changed for the world! How did one survive growing up in the 80's?

We had no seatbelts, no airbags. Cycling was like a breath of fresh air… (I got my first cycle when I was 5 years old complete with training wheels - and when I turned 13, I remember all my relatives pooled in money to buy me the latest rage - A shiny red Hero Ranger!) There were no safety helmets, knee pads or elbow pads, but still we raced arounf carefree… and we were fearless on our bicycles even when the brakes failed going downhill!

We could stay out to play for hours, as long as we got back before dark, in time for dinner… (From Cricket to pittoo, football to "Ice-Spice" aka "I Spy", nothing could come in my way from palying 4-6pm each day!) When thirsty we only drank tap water, bottled water was still a mystery… We kept busy collecting bits & pieces so we could build all sort of things and we showed off how tough we are, by how high we could climb trees & then jumping down….It was great fun. (I could actually do this!) We lost teeth, broke arms & legs, we got cuts and bruises and bloody noses…. nobody complained as we had so much fun, it wasn't anybody's fault, only ours...

We walked to school, or sometimes we even rode our bicycle - at best took the school bus (the school bus rides are still those most remember most fondly!) - We had no mobile phones, but we always managed to find each other... How?

We ate everything in sight, cakes, bread, chocolate, ice-cream, sweet sugary drinks, fruits..yet, we stayed skinny by fooling around. (Well most did!) And if one of us was lucky to get a 1 litre Thumsup bottle, we all had a swig from it & guess what? Nobody picked up any germs...

We did not have Play Stations, MP3, Nintendo's, I-Pods, Video games, 99 Cable TV channels, DVD's, Home Cinema, Home Computers, Laptops, Chat-rooms, Internet, etc ... BUT, we had REAL FRIENDS!!!! We called on friends to come out to play, never rang the doorbell, just went around the backdoor - We played with sticks and stones, played Chor-Police, hide and seek, soccer games, over and over again… and when we failed our exams we were given a second chance by simply repeating the same grade…without visiting psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors… Such were the days!

We had freedom, success, disappointments and responsibilities... Most of all, we learned to respect others. Are YOU from that generation? If that's the case, maybe this post will help you forget the stress that surrounds us these days and just for a few moments will put a smile to your faces as you remember what life was really like in the good old days - those were the days, eh? And here's a list of stuff that truly defines the generation - see how many apply to you and find out whether you too are getting old (like me!)...

1. Though you would not publicly acknowledge this now, but at the age of 5-8 years, you were very proud of your first “Bellbottom” or your first “Maxi” - False

2. Phantom & Mandrake were your only true heroes. You can also nod your heads to names like Tinkle, Chandamama, Champak, Lot-Pot, Nandan. The brainy ones read “Competition Success Review”. - True

3. You took pride in turning to the back page of your latest Amar Chitra Katha and ticking off yet another title. How many ever you ticked, you still had many to go. - True

4. Your “Camlin” geometry box & Flora pencil was your prized possession and you actually have dissected a frog with your Biology Box! - True

5. The only “Holidays” you took were to go to your grandparents’ or your cousins’ houses. - True

6. Ice-cream meant only – either an orange stick, a vanilla softy in a cone or at most – a Choco-Bar if you lived in a swanky town.- True

7. Your father owned a Chetak or a Rajdoot. Your first family car (and the only one) was an Ambassador or a Fiat (Premier Padmini). This often had to be pushed by the entire family to get going. - True but the last part is thankfully false!

8. The glass windows in the back seats used to get stuck at the two-thirds down level and used to irk the hell out of you! The window went down only if your puny arm could manage the tacky rotary handle to pull it down. Locking the door was easy. You just whacked the other tacky, non-rotary handle downwards. - True

9. If your dad was the comfort-oriented kinds, you had a magnificent small fan upfront, below which screwed to the board was the cassette player - True

10. Your parents were proud owners of HMT watches. You “earned” yours after 8th or the 10th standard exams.- True - I got mine in Class 5 actually!

11. You have been to “Jumbo Circus”/ “Gemini Circus”; you held your breath while the pretty young thing in the glittery skirt did acrobatics, quite enjoyed the elephants hitting football, the motorcyclist vrooming in the “Maut ka Gola” and it was politically okay to laugh your guts out at dwarfs hitting each others bottoms!- True


12. You had at least once heard “Hawa Mahal” on the radio, and used to look forward to “Binaca Geet Mala” from Ceylon Radio every Wednesday with the unforgettable Ameed Sayani voice - True

13. If you had a TV, it was normal to expect the neighborhood to gather around to watch the Chitrahaar (Wednesday) or the Sunday movie. If you didn’t have a TV, you just went to a house that had the TV. It mattered little if you knew the owners or not. - True

14. Sometimes the owners of these TVs got very creative and got a bi or even a tri-coloured anti-glare screen which they would attach with two side clips onto their Weston TVs. That was a make-do “colour TV”, and would confuse the hell out of you! - True!

15. Black & White TVs weren’t so bad after all because cricket was played in whites. - True

16. You thought your Dad rocked because you got your own (the family’s; not your own own!) colour TV when the Asian Games started (and Appu became a overnight celebrity). Everyone else got the same idea as well and ever since, no one came over to your house and you didn’t go to anyone else’s. - True

17. You dreaded the death of any political leader because of the mourning they would announce on the TV. After all how much “Shashtriya Sangeet” can a kid take? Salma Sultana (with that big flower behind her ear) didn’t smile either during the mourning. - True

18. You knew that “Indira Gandhi” was somebody really powerful and terribly important. And that’s all you needed to know. - True (and have some scary memories of the time just after her assassination!)

19. The only “Gadgets” in the house were the TV, the Two-in-one, the Fridge and the Mixie. - True

20. All the gadgets had to be duly covered with a crochet covers and sometimes even with ingenious, custom-fit plastic covers. - True



21. Movies meant Amitabh Bachchan. Before the start of the movie you always had to watch the obligatory “newsreel”. - True

22. You thought you were so rocking because you knew almost all the songs of Abba, BoneyM, Michael Jackson and Madonna because you had worn out the cassettes! - True

23. You couldn’t contain your happiness when you suddenly had knowledge of Grammy Awards and Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper & (OMG!!)… even Michael Jackson became familiar names. - True

24. School teachers, your parents and even your neighbours could whack you – and it was all okay. - True (but sad!)

25. Clicking a Photograph was a big thing. You were lucky if your family owned a camera (HotShot, perhaps). A reel of 36 exposures was valuable hence it justified the half hour preparation & “setting” & the “posing” for each picture. Therefore, you have at least one family picture where everyone is holding their breath and standing at attention! - True

Wow! 22.5/25 on that list were true for me... !

(Was sent this forward a few days back - enjoyed it so much that had to customize and post it...)