I thank my friend and old classmate PSB-II for coercing me consistently to write this post. This is my first attempt at writing which is not for any exam, test, report, or amorous proposal, etc. 😉
In this article I want to illustrate that how fortunate is the Indian generation born in the nineties of the last century. I would say they have got the best of both worlds. This generation was born in the times when the world witnessed the most dramatic and tangible changes in almost every field from politics to sciences.
For millennia most of the human race toiled with little or no hope for themselves as well as their kids. Masses were kept in the darkness. They were cheated, looted, humiliated and yet they submitted to their masters with full faith. They were ignorant. They were like the elephant that is gloriously ignorant of its own strength and follows every instruction of a small and frail mahout. The last century saw unprecedented growth in scientific research and the human body got some dignity as machines took his place in various arena of life. However the rural and semi urban India were still devoid of modern equipments with exceptions of trains, torches, and cycles. Then in the 1990s the liberalization happened. India threw her doors open for industries and Indians surged to a new life full of growth and optimism. Nevertheless, the real revolution was brought by information technology, the redeemer of Indian engineers.
We started our elementary education with just a chalk, a slate, and a primer which contained alphabets of our native tongues as well as the language of the world along with numbers and by the time we entered into universities we carried the world held firmly in our palms tapping our fingers on touch screens conversing and learning on the go.
Our mornings in childhood started with our bodies being woken torturously by our parents. By the time we got up mother will be cooking in kitchen and father shaving, both shouting our names alternatively. Devotional songs played on Akashvaani channel of All India Radio in the background. We hurriedly brushed our teeth sometimes swallowing the toothpaste and took bath with cold water irrespective of weather conditions. By the time we dressed, our minds thought of a reason that could relieve us from going to the concentration camp called school. We could never convince our parents that we had a genuine headache or stomachache unless it was accompanied by a fever or loose motions. Our hands dipped the rolled chapattis into hot tea or milk and mouths gulped the same listening to father’s rants on how the marks in unit tests have not been satisfactory. Mother always insisted we had an extra chapatti. It was a humungous task for our parents to get us on school buses, rickshaws or vans.
Once in school we all behaved like a herd of buffaloes doing whatever the teacher instructed us to do. An I-will-beat-shit-out-of-your-arse look of teacher made us pee in our pants and we all had classmates who donned villain roles perfectly by bullying us to let them have a peek into our lunchboxes and see our parathas vanished in no time. Broken pencils, disfigured notebooks, torn shirts, and scratched limbs were usual affairs during recess. In spite of these eventful happenings we never forgot to enjoy that time which went off in a jiffy. The last bell was a song of redemption to our parched souls. Shooting from the classroom to the school gate in the shortest path possible was a sight to behold.
Back in home the gala time began. Post lunch kids of the colony would gather and played plethora of games like ice-water (barf-paani), hide and seek (luka-chhipi), catch me if you can (chhuchhualla), ludo, carom, doctor-patient, raja-manthri-chor-sipahi and what not.
Arrival of father brought the drudgery back. We stealthily sneaked into our own houses took the books, stared into them, and completed the burden called homework till we were called for dinner which we had silently for father’s watchful eyes never left the region where we sat.
Life back then was more of dreams. The salaries of our fathers never fulfilled our wants. “Father, I want xyz” statement always got a standard reply “kyon? Paise kya ped pe ugte hain” (Why do you want xyz? Money doesn’t grow on trees). We never got what we wanted instantly. Fulfilling basic needs was in itself a grueling task. The flow of money always seemed to be insufficient. This taught us to improvise and use. Jugaad was our friend indeed. Newspapers were used to cover our books and notebooks. Pencils were used till they disappeared. Pages of notebooks of previous years were used for rough work. Books changed many hands until they became ancient or the courses changed. When electronic items like radio and tape recorders went sick the first aid was always attempted at home. The cause of sickness of these items more often used to be the youngest male kid at home. Old clothes reincarnated into various forms to serve us till the last thread was utilized. Eating out or packaged food was never an option. From regular food to special food everything was prepared at home. Nimboo pani and mango panaa were drinks. Kids became prime entertainer when any guest arrived at home. Reciting nursery rhymes, singing some song, dancing and answering general questions in front of guests made parents feel proud of their offspring who on other days is always a monkey or a donkey. Dreaming about the things one did not possess was a favorite pass time. We dreamt of what we will do once we get the possession of that much wanted thing, whom we will share with and not, and so on. One day we thought ourselves as a policeman who is catching thieves gallantly on another day we became superman saving people from rogues. We were heroes of our dreams.
Then arrived new millennium and slowly the effects of the liberalization started showing up. Markets were getting filled with diverse products of same and different kinds. Gadgets like walkman, radios, and tape-recorders gave way to mp3 players, CDs & DVDs. While we were getting used to these works of wonder, mobile phones flooded the markets. Slowly we took to the alphanumeric keypads of those phones but in no time touch screens made their way to our palms. Every passing day is making the phone of previous year look like ancient. Technology is changing at never seen pace. At least my mind is dazed to witness all my dreams materializing within so less time. We are the only generation who used letters, postcards, mobile messages (SMS), emails, Facebook messenger, and now WhatsApp messages with same dexterity. Food habits also changed considerably. Noodles, macaroni, pasta, pizzas, burgers and various beverages have become a part of our daily cuisine.
No other generation has grown up with technology as well as geopolitical and social changes as we have. The generation older than us spent its childhood as well as early youth in the same old license raj India. The only innovation in their times were color television and Bajaj Chetak scooter. Even now most of them are slow at responding to new technology. They are the most patient one. Conservatism and risk averseness describes that generation best. The generation after us is born into fast moving era. They are the most impatient lot. They want everything to be done instantly. They are turning out to be smarter don’t want to struggle.
We, the kids of nineties can adapt to any situation with élan. We have perfect combination of patience as well as risk taking abilities, we are rooted to our cultures but won’t mind to explore and learn from others. No generation was like us and none will be. So let us celebrate our uniqueness and make best use of it to serve ourselves as well as the society with all our might. Wish you well. Thank you for reading.