School days

Material acquisition in those days meant pocket money to buy a pink candied ice-cream cone or 2 small samosas or a vada pao! We made rubber band guns to shoot paper in class, and often got caught in the act. We also made toys called “water pistols” with our water bottles for a water gun. The water pistol was initially an instrument used by an uncle in Delhi who had a large garden. There were no hoses in his garden for some reason, so he would take a long broom handle and fix a rag onto it and stick it tightly into a long galvanized pipe. He then dipped the pipe into a bucket of water and drew the handle back, vacuuming water into the pipe. Then he raised it and shot water a long distance to water his plants by shoving the broom handle back into the pipe.

We saw this as kids on our summer vacations and made our own water bottles the water guns to play with sometimes even by attaching straws to it so that we could shoot afar! After school we would spend hours shooting water at each other, till our respective parents would yell at us to get back home! We played many games together as there was not much television to watch or video games to play or the internet to isolate oneself. Lagori, marbles, iti danda, football, cricket, hop scotch…

We even played hockey with sticks and tin cans if the ball would get punctured by a passing by truck. We didn’t have sufficient money to go buy another ball and were happy playing with a make shift arrangement.

During summer holidays we’d go to a nearby park for a fast jog and then hang out together as a big group of friends to chatter. And plan the evening. Which would be once again meeting together and playing some sport

Sundays would be special as it was no kitchen day, mums day off- so after a late heavy breakfast we’d either troop out for a late lunch or a brunch to some special restaurants. Eating out over wkends was a ritual. A day to spoil and appreciate mum:)

Given mum was such a fabulous cook- we always had people over for dinners and lunches too. Good food was hence a key feature of our childhood years. All meals were family oriented and only on wkends eating between meals was ok.

There were no supermarkets in those days or at-least I cannot remember any such, as everything was bought in general stores. This was a joy for us as we could go to the store and buy a chocolate or candy bar or even a Pepsi cola sipper.

Ice, precious ice would be bought off from a handcart man who would bring huge slabs of ice- and we’d enjoy the thrill of him breaking a part portion for our purchase especially when he’d be breaking the large slab and shards of ice would get sprinkled on us as he went about breaking the ice:)

Annual picnics from school was always a big affair –bus loads of us drive to some park or safari, see nature or technology and automation from close quarters. The day would be spent in much excitement as the thrill would be to sit next to ones best friend in class during the bus ride and make small talk, I cant even remember what we would speak about Annual days at school would be equally fun when we had to doll up, I personally hated all the fuss little girls would make about dressing up, glancing in the mirror to admire bla bla

But not a day would go by if we didn’t get to meet our building friends, hang out and play together in the building quadrangle till late evening. Given we were a mixed bunch of boys and girls of all ages we would play chor police and find the most amazing places to hide –on top of the milk booth or inside a tree or under a parked car! We’d also play Badminton, throw ball, walking together to the library to get story books, reading our horoscopes daily from the newspapers, quarreling and making up, running back home about sunset just before Dad would get back from office - to have our evening baths, get readied for the night, some studies and then dinner together as a family.

Family was a real blessing. Spoilt by granparents, adored by parents, and loved by neighbours and friends. We as a family were a lot closer than most of our friends/neighbors as we lived in a nuclear avatar. Other families in our building had many more people living together. We as children always were treated right by our parents, were paid the right attention, were corrected and appreciated all the time. My sister got to wear more hand-me-downs compared to me, as she was younger. I can’t remember her ever complaining about these hand me downs- ever. I was the spilt brat, looking for choices all the way. It was also a big deal to have new rain shoes –gum boots or belly’s. So year on year we’d debate and finally settle on belly’s; because the only time I said I wanted gumboots I had water squishing around inside my boots all day and I made so much noise walking around that I was fed up of the huge embarrassment. The thing is I couldn’t remove those large gumboots from my feet because of a vacuum that got created and only upon reaching home after school did Hari, our help, put all his might in tearing the shoes from my feet, finally some relief!

Chores were a part of our everyday life, we had to complete our share of daily workload- our parents were most conscientious of ensuring that none of us brother or sisters ever felt unequal to the other so we were all meant to do all jobs always without bias. From cleaning, to zipping downstairs to buy bread or a magazine from the news stand , to making tea etc

Childhood was about innocence and life, of robust laughter and camaraderie, of fair and just, of winning and losing, of bruised knees and tears and above all a can do spirit that never knew doubts and fear. :)