Oh! The Sweet Old Days

The author is indebted to Mr. Ahindra Lal Bhuyan for forwarding him that anonymous mail which ignited the spark that led to this piece.

She grew up during the 80s.

At the age of 12, she was proud of her first “maxi”.

Phantom & Mandrake were her true heroes.

“Camlin” geometry box & Natraj/Flora pencil were her prized possessions.

The only “holidays” she took were to go to her grandparents’ houses.

She gave her neighbour’s phone number to others with a ‘c/o’ written against it because her father had booked theirs only 7 years ago and they were still waiting for the number to come. It was a scene to see when the linesmen were working on the road for connection of the telephone to their house. She was sitting there on the road to know when it will be over with her eyes glued to the linesmen.

An LML Vespa was the only vehicle for communication of the family of four. Her elder sister standing in front of her father, her mother sitting on the back-seat and she in between her mother and the father. She enjoyed the journey from home to school and back suppressing her suffocation under the pressure from both sides. She saw some onlookers on the roadside stopping to see how efficient her father was as a driver. The flying edge of her mother’s “chaddar” waved a bye-bye to such onlookers. Carbon on the plugs and puncture of the wheels were the occasional problems when the driver and each of the passengers had to do some bit to bring the vehicle to moving. The road sometimes behaved in a manner to make them all look like clowns of a circus.

She had been to “Gemini Circus”; had held her breath while the pretty young girls in the glittery skirts did acrobatics, enjoyed the elephants hitting football, the motorcyclist vroom-ing in the “Maut Ka Kuwa” and had fallen down on her mother’s lap unable to control her laughter when the two dwarfs hit on the back of each other with their brooms.

Her parents were proud owners of HMT watches. She “earned” her own after the HSLC exams.

She had at least once heard “Hawa Mahal” on the radio which could be switched on when it was struck gently from the back by her father only.

Then came the black and white Beltek TV. The entire family used to watch it under the strict vigilance of her father. It was without any invitation that the neighborhood gathered around to watch the Chitrahaar or the Sunday movie. Although it was a black and white TV it wore a colored look due to a green flap attached to it later on.The black and white TV was converted to a colored one by the house rats once they found their abode inside it and decided to redo the interior by applying their own electronic know how.

Then came the actual color TV when the Asian Games started. Everyone else got the same idea as well and ever since, no one came over to their house to watch TV.

Everything was fine except after the death of any political leader because of the mourning they would announce on the TV. After all how much “Shashtriya Sangeet” can a girl take? There was none to be seen on the TV screen with a smiling face, not to even speak of Chitrahaar or any entertaining programme during the mourning.

She knew that “Indira Gandhi” was somebody really powerful and terribly important. And that’s all she needed to know.

The only “gadgets” in the house were the TV, the Fridge and a mixer-grinder. All the gadgets had to be duly covered with a crochet cover and sometimes even with ingenious, custom-fit plastic covers.

Movies meant Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Rekha or Jaya Prada. It was obligatory to watch the advertisements of toothpastes and soaps and detergents and cosmetics to watch a movie of two hours in not less than four hours. Since Doordarshan was the only channel there was no option but to bear the onslaught of the ads. The positive thing was that she could sing the songs of the ads and mimic almost all actions and it was a great show when she performed all these in any family gathering.

Taking a photograph was a big thing. She was lucky to call her father’s Click III camera her own. A reel of 12 exposures was valuable hence it justified the half hour preparation and “setting” and the “posing” for each picture. Therefore, she had at least one family picture where everyone is holding their breath and standing at attention!

They were really happy then.

….and then she turned twenty-four.

We welcome your comments at letters@friedeye.com

14 thoughts on “Oh! The Sweet Old Days

  1. For an aspiring future father hoping for a princess of his own someday, this journey of words and memories was a privilege.

    Watching a part of you grow up into her own person and knowing when to let go…a bit at a time…must be fulfilling, sad and a matter of pride all rolled into one. After all you are the foundation she’s built on.

    Wonderful piece. Made me feel the underlying emotions even though they are still alien to me.

    Waiting for and wanting more from you.

  2. It’s like watching a reel turn in my head…one moment after the other…snapping from a scene on a sunny ivy-covered verandah to a rickshaw ride from school on a saturday….to a makeshift stage with cousins “performing”….to all the late night gossips after meeting family members after long long stretches of time demanded by a resident college or a job or a marriage. Turns from B&W to color as I move along.

    Kudos for this brilliant piece. Summing up so many years of watching a daughter grow must be something more than special….

    Best wishes,


  3. @Gyan Ban, thanks a lot. The poem was the icing on the cake.

    @Purbarag, wish you all the best!

  4. The effect it had on me is hard to describe in words. It is so overwhelming and profound I can almost see Dr. Sahariah, watching as his daughter grow up and can identify with his feeling to see his daughter becoming twenty four, marriageable age. Moreover I think its an honor for a dad to watch his daughter grow up following his lead in each step. The only thing I can say now is that I want a daughter too, if ever I beget children.

  5. This is very well done.Each anecdote is wonderfully articulated. You know it is a good piece of writing if you feel why did the post end ? You just want it to go on. Well all good things must come to an end….so that they may begin again…! Look forward for more such articles in the future.

    I’d like to share something I wrote and would love to share with the author in particular,I have a feeling he just might identify with it a little more than most GenY folks reading this here!


    Those Chitrahaar Nights,
    And the Buniyaad fights,
    Those deserted Mahabharat mornings
    and the Salma Sultan evenings,
    The true test of patience – Krishi Darshan
    “Rukawat le Liye Khed Hai” perhaps the only exception.
    Those Bhaiyon aur Beheno songs on Binaca geet mala
    and the tacky graphics of Alif Laila
    Those mysteries of Byomkesh Bakshi
    Komal Singh carrying the mantle of being sexy.
    Those Friday nights were so bleak,
    entertainment ended with the World this week.
    The girls would curl up
    When Fauji showed up ,
    Kitu Gidwani made the men toss
    Sunday nights belonged to the Air Hostess.
    Trishna was for the classes,
    Dekh Bhai Dekh tickled the masses.
    Arif Zakaria was the man to marry,
    “Shut-up kitty” there’s nothing to worry.
    Spare a thought for the Door Se Darshan
    Tragedies, humor suspense’s or murder
    O those goose bumps on katha sagar,
    We laugh now but they were our life then,
    They might be forgotten today I fear,
    but for most of us they were the wonder years.!

  6. @Nidarshana, thanks for reading it with the attention that you did. The “thud” that you talked about was indeed intentional. I wouldn’t have been surprised had you mentioned the word “shock” rather than thud.

    @Fried Eye and Manjil, thank you so much. I will definitely try to write more.

    @Sankhya, I am pleasantly surprised to watch you grow up with grace.

  7. This piece I hold more dear to my heart than anything else. And Dr. Sahariah would know very well why. Thank you so much. Here’s hoping you always find the time and inspiration to write such beautiful pieces.

  8. Great Narration, and the story we all identify with.

    I still treasure my mom and dad’s HMT watches. They were almost a part of the family, each watch having a unique name.

    I miss my dad’s click III camera which we somehow lost.

    Thank you sir, hope to see more from you.

  9. Great write-up but it climaxed with a sudden thud. Poignant – but depressing.

    On hindsight, Dr. Bhubaneswar Sahariah could produce the intended effect well. Will come back for more..

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